Don’t our beloved canine companions deserve to leave this life with all the comfort and dignity we can afford them? Don’t they deserve the comfort of our loving arms wrapped around them as we gently bid them good-bye? Don’t they deserve to look into eye that show them love… don’t they deserve to see the face they adored… Such a small price to pay for the love, loyalty and devotion of a lifetime.
Warning – Tissue Alert!
Just An Old Dog
“He’s just getting old,” the man said.
“Do you want to be with him?” asked the doctor.
“Are you taking the body home?”
I’m standing in the back, out of sight, and the feeling of dread washes over me. That happens a lot when I’m at work. Listening to the conversation, I hear the question “Do we have room for him in the freezer?”
I take a deep breath and walk forward. “I don’t think so” I say. “We had a paralyzed dog that got hit by the car this morning, remember?
How big is this dog?”
The Man looks at me, “He’s big,” he says.
I walk around the counter, to view the dog. He is big, at least 100 pounds, his head finds my hand, and I automatically stroke him.
“He’s too big,” I say, looking down at the dog, he is old. His watery brown eyes meet mine as he raises his grey face to look at me.
“Well, the bodies are scheduled to be picked up tomorrow.” Said the doctor. “We can keep him over night, and put him down in the morning, when we have room. There will be no charge for the overnight stay. Or, you can bring him back in the morning.”
The man looked at his dog. “I’ll leave him here, his hips are getting bad, and his skin is a mess. The allergy medicine just isn’t clearing it up anymore.”
The doctor looks at me. “Go get a run ready for him.” He tells me. I turn and leave the room.
My heart is breaking, I cant help but think of my dog, who will be 13 years old soon. I can’t imagine doing this to him, can’t imagine how afraid and alone he would feel if I left him behind to die. I put two thick blankets down on the concrete floor of the run. I then added a bowl of water, and a bowl canned dog food. I then slowly make the walk back to the lobby. I grab a slip leash as I walk by. I enter the lobby, and the old grey head again finds my hand, tail slowly wagging.
“Whats his name?” I ask.
“Buddy.” The man replies.
I gently put the slip leash over Buddy’s head. “Do you want to keep his collar and leash?” I ask the man. He nodded and bent to unhook the collar from around Buddy’s neck.
I turned to take Buddy back, he resisted. “Ohh, come on Buddy, it’s okay baby.” I said to him in a soothing voice. He followed me back. He calmly looked at all the barking dogs we passed, but kept his pace.
I entered the run with him. He sniffed the water and food, then turned to look at me. He had such a look of anxiety on his face, and his ears were pricked up now. Maybe listening for his master, hoping he was following behind us. “It’s okay Buddy.” I said, trying to stay calm, I didn’t want him to pick up on my anxiety. I rubbed his head for a while, as tears ran down my cheeks. I had to go, I turned and shut the gate, locking it in place. Buddy’s watery brown eyes locked to mine through the gate.
“I’m so sorry.” I said.
I will go to work tomorrow, with a lump of ice in my stomach. Knowing that Buddy will die, on a cold metal table, surrounded by strangers. I will feed him another can of food for breakfast. I will walk him out to use the bathroom, letting him sniff around longer than I’m supposed to, because I know it will be the last time. The last time he will smell the air, the dirt, the grass. The last time of just being a dog.
When the time comes, and the doctor tells me to bring him up, I will hug his head to my chest, as I hold the vein off. I will caress him and whisper what a good boy he is. I will tell him he is the best dog in the world, how much he is loved, how special he is. I will whisper these words to him until he takes his last breath, until his old body goes limp in my arms. I will cry for his passing. I will do all the things that the man who brought him here should be doing.