Recently, in the busyness that is my life, I have come across an experience completely new to me. It was one that I had hoped would never come to pass and that I had been dreading for months.
On Monday, September the 8th, I euthanized my family dog. My first puppy. My playmate as a kid and comforting presence as a teenager. She used to make sure I was up in time for work in the morning, although I don’t think her motives were entirely pure. I still believe that she only did it to get me out of my warm, cozy bed so that she could climb in and bask in the comfiness.
She was born sometime in November, 1997. For a dog of her size, she was well into her geriatric years. There were many things that influenced our decision to finally lay her to rest, but one big one was her inability to do the things she loved. Chasing balls, chasing really anything that moved including one rabbit in particular who she never did catch… This would leave her stiff and sore and probably regretting her brief lapse into puppy-hood.
I still vividly remember the day she came home with my dad, an early Christmas present. His timed reveal was thrown off because just as he was lecturing us on having to be good for the next twenty years, she popped out of his jacket and surveyed her new surroundings. Her name was Smooch, after running up to my dad and kissing him thoroughly when he went to pick her out as a puppy.
As she got older and sorer, she no longer beat me up the stairs as she always did. I would often slow down and let her get by me as she hurried slower and slower with each passing year, just because I knew it made her day. She always had to be in view or with her family, and scouting the upstairs first was at the top of her priority list.
I will miss the way she would do laps around the ground floor, so rambunctious in her excitement that someone had come home. Even though she would still do this from time to time as she aged, the laps got slower and the corners eventually too tight for her to make in time without making a little bobble here and there.
The decision is so final that I had a hard time coming to terms with making it. Even though I knew, in both my professional mind and my emotional one, that I was making the right decision, I still felt like second-guessing myself. When my family finally came to me and inquired about the process, I knew that there was no more avoiding it. As my first dog, I had a hard time letting go.
Now, I have grieved and I have even felt a glimmer of relief that her life will no longer be uncomfortable or painful. She will no longer wander as if she were lost, or groan as she got up from a nap. I will no longer lose sleep thinking about whether or not she is in pain, or lonely, or confused. I know that she lived a happy life full of memories, loving people, snacks she wasn’t supposed to have and tennis balls. One full of bonfires where she would herd the guests and their vehicles into their parking spaces, and mooch food from the gullible ones. She was so good at that, and rightfully earned her nickname, “Mooch”.
While in college for veterinary technology, I came across a poem that I knew immediately would one day be the one I used to console myself following Smooch’s inevitable passing. Let me first say that I am not one for poetry, nor have I ever been, but this was a piece that was undeniably suitable and has brought me some small consolation following this loss. It still brings a little tear to my eye to read it.
Smooch was a good dog, the best really, and I will miss her as long as I have the capacity to feel loss. Sometimes the most appropriate decisions are the hardest, but she did her job being an admirable, wonderful pet and I believe I owed it to her to do the right thing.
You will forever be loved and deeply missed.
Goodbye, my friend.