Today started off like any other ordinary day. Get the two kids off to school. Get myself ready. Feed both the dogs. Gulp down the coffee. Breathe deep and get ready for the million tasks at hand. The only difference was that this morning, I had an appointment to take our dog Linus to the vet. He hadn’t been acting like himself the past two weeks and once he stopped being interested in food, we knew we had reason to worry. Linus came to us last year, right before the holidays, my mother was fostering him through Paws New England and we just fell in love with him. He was this emaciated cocker spaniel who seemed to come alive in the presence of my daughter, Emma. Their instant connection was undeniable and so, even though we weren’t in the market for a second dog, we adopted him immediately, excited to give him a really good home. Linus was in rough shape, his road to us had clearly been a long one. The organization in which he came, gathered that he was most likely deaf, having found him with maggots in his ears which ate through most of his canals. He was partially blind as he had trauma in one eye (a piece of metal or something of the sort cut his eye) and the other had a series of other issues. He was so skinny, I mean, terribly skinny. His leg had been broken and left to heal on its own. I mean, truly, his list of issues is like one continuous sad story. His personality was easy, he slept most of the day, perking up when Emma came home from school, when it was time to eat and when he wanted to snuggle. They estimated him to be somewhere between 8-10, which we thought was optimistic. From the start, we knew he was older but no one could give us a number for sure. Most of his teeth were broken which is the best way to tell a dog’s age.
Our year with Linus, just flew by, so quickly. He became a member of this family so easily, blending perfectly from the very start. And everyone who met him was smitten with him. He was a gem of a dog.
The vet I took him to this morning was new. Our usual vet seemed to shrug Linus off at the last visit, citing too many of his issues to just getting older. This new vet, was highly spoken of, having just helped nurse my in-laws puppy through quite the scare. I had a feeling what she would tell me this morning may be a little disheartening but I thought it would simply be a cocktail of medicine and perhaps some difficult days. In my mind, he would come out the other side and we would eat snacks together while laying on the couch. But instead, she told me that he had a huge tumor on his abdomen, which had moved on to his spleen and had caused internal bleeding. Instead, she started talking about him making it through the weekend and how trying that might be. Instead, she talked about how painful and dramatic his death would be at home. I had to ask her: “What would you do? If this was your dog? I need to know, I can’t make this decision myself.” In my mind, I couldn’t fathom that this routine visit had turned into this. However, when I really started to think about it, all the signs had been pointing this way. Something very sudden had happened to him the last two weeks and it was clear to all of us. Having just been to the vet, I just didn’t think it could be this bad. She told me that she thought he was 14 and by the way he was trembling, his pain was unmanageable. She told me that it was better if it was today. Over the weekend, if he bled out and had to be suddenly put down, it would be in the emergency clinic, which is cold and terrible.
So, I dismissed Emma from school early and broke the news to her. We came home and fed him all his favorite snacks. We sat and cuddled with him for what time we had left. Then we took him to McDonald’s, yes, you read that right, this dog loved french fries, and I stuffed his face with all his favorite treats. For a moment, he looked really happy but it was fleeting. We drove to the vet, placed him on the bed in a room laid out clearly for this purpose alone and said goodbye. My daughter left early but I couldn’t manage it. I didn’t want him to think we left him there alone. I sat down next to him, snuggled him in his blanket, caressed his ears and face, while watching him slip away.
And then I just cracked. I lost it. It was like everything wrong inside just came to the surface. As much as the past year has been great, it’s also been really hard. It seemed like all the heartache came rushing towards me and I just sat there and cried desperately. I just couldn’t understand. I can’t understand. I have trouble processing death when it’s so close. It’s like one second they’re here and then they’re gone. It just doesn’t make sense.
You’ll be missed Linus. My heart aches. Deep. More than I thought possible. Saying goodbye really never is an easy task.