Monday, November 16, 2015
Last Saturday morning we took Mike, our remaining sheepdog, to the vet for an assessment, and, after some consultation, we made the difficult decision to have him euthanized. We’d gone through the same procedure with Duffy several months ago. The decision with Duffy was more clearcut since he was diagnosed with bone cancer, had fractured a leg, and was in severe pain. There really wasn’t any choice in the matter. Mike was more of a quality of life issue. He’s been unable to get up from the floor by himself for months, has needed help getting up and down the stairs, had become incontinent, was suffering chronic pain from severe arthritis, and couldn’t be left alone in the house for any period of time without experiencing extreme distress. We could have continued as we have been, providing him with a lot of physical caretaking, but, with the prospect of no improvement and continued decline, Mike’s painful situation didn’t seem to warrant it. I think we made the correct decision, but it’s hard nonetheless. We were with Mike when the vet administered a sedative and then a drug to stop his heart. It was painless for Mike, literally a matter of being put to sleep. Lots of tears for us.
Mike and Duffy have given us untold joy for over thirteen years, and we’ll experience their loss for a long time to come. The dogs were my loyal companions on hikes in local parks, long neighborhood walks, camping expeditions, occasional road trips, and just hanging out in the house. They were widely known in our neighborhood and provided the occasion for lots of casual contact with fellow dog owners and passersby. Despite being brothers from the same litter, Mike and Duffy were very different in temperament. Duffy was the alpha dog — more aggressive, dominant, and anxious. He was the rowdier of the two. When I think of Mike, the two words that pop into mind are “sweet” and “gentle”. He was much more laid back than Duffy. I can’t think of a single time where he ever barked at another dog on the street, and he stopped and stared at strangers, hoping to get a few pets. He liked to lie in bed and lick our feet, and he was an expert at balancing on his back for minutes at a time with his legs outstretched and paws up in the air. We still are attuned to his presence in the house, expecting him to be around the corner or to remind us that it’s 5:00 and time for dinner. Katja was certain that she could hear him whimpering in the dining room yesterday evening.
We’ve worked through losses in the past with pet dogs that we’ve been very attached to, and I know that we’ll cope with this all right and eventually get back to normal. For myself, I’ve lost two loved companions and a significant and happy slice of my daily routines. We’re at a life stage where we probably won’t get another dog. I’ll have to figure out what will replace Mike and Duffy, or if that’s even possible at all.