SOMEONE ONCE SAID that having a good dog brings you years of joy and happiness, and companionship, followed by a single day of crushing anguish and sorrow; and after that, weeks of unbearable grief and prolonged mourning.
They were right.
This is my beautiful Zoey. I miss her so much but I do have beautiful memories. It just hurts right now.
This is Ella May when she first came into my life at 5 weeks old. She was my faithful companion and protector for over 14 years. She had a big personality and was very sassy. The two things she loved most were food and her friends. She will be greatly missed.
They were right.
My Lab Murphy was a good dog, and although he was occasionally strong-willed, aggravating, and stubborn as Labs are prone to be, he was always ready to please, always ready to play, or go for a walk, or go for a ride, or just be with Maggie and me. He’d lay at her feet and watch TV with us, and woe to any other dog that might appear on the screen, for he’d chase them away with a barrage of fearsome barks. If perchance you came to the house, Murph would welcome you with a wagging tail and a submissive posture, and you would swear he was smiling – happy because you were there. He loved people, but he loved Maggie most. Wherever she was, that’s where you would find Murphy.
With heavy hearts, we had to send Murphy Home today, and I felt the crushing weight of anguish and sorrow I knew would come. Cancer and edema had claimed him. Weeks before, he had part of a lung removed due to a cancerous mass, a laryngeal tie-back to relieve his labored breathing and a bone biopsy on his left hind leg that also proved to be cancerous. I wanted to believe that medical science could repair him, but they could not.
When his hind legs swelled to twice their size, the vet said his lymph nodes weren’t doing their job and recommended laser and massage therapy. I thought it would work. I wanted it to work, and I would have given anything to make it work, and for a brief time, it seemed to have the desired effect. But it was not enough, and the vet said to keep him as comfortable as possible. It was a phrase that put a dagger through my heart. It meant only one thing. There was nothing we could do for him. His lungs were taking on fluid, once more making it hard for him to breathe. The vet said he had about two weeks before he suffocated.
The selfish part of me did everything I could to keep him around. I sought out 2nd and 3rd opinions and spent whatever I had to spend in order to fix him. Why? Because he was still my dog. Still my Murphy … bright, alert, and playful at nearly fourteen years old. But his hind legs were useless, and his front legs were arthritic. He was suffering, but being a Lab, he did not show it. If they could have fixed him, I would have spent thousands more to pay for any procedure that would help him, but no amount of money could save my boy.
I finally stopped fooling myself. Murphy suffered through it all without as much as a whimper. He endured a bevy of pain, and I needed to be man enough to do the same for him. We found a vet that came to the house to euthanize him at home.
Home, where he felt loved and safe and unafraid. And I felt like Judas.
I know it was the right thing to do for him, relieve the suffering he refused to show. So why does doing the right thing hurt so damn much?
The vet took Murphy’s body with her for cremation – and I broke down.
“She has my dog,” was all I remember saying as she pulled away with Murphy. It finally hit me what I had done. Tears washed down my face, and I sought to be alone. I watched the many videos I had of Murphy—videos of when he was young, and strong … and full of life.
My God, how I miss him.