Sunday, April 19, 2009
Goodbye Old Friend
It's been a while. I have needed to write this post, but it has been very difficult to put into words. I needed some time...
So, Bear and I were very lucky to inherit the best dog you could ever imagine. Winston started his life with a different family. One of my friends adopted him when he was a puppy as a divorce gift to herself. He was a beloved pet and also provided a feeling of safety to a woman suddenly living alone. A few years later, she met and married her current husband and they started a family. When their second child was born, they discovered that among many other health issues, he was VERY allergic to dogs. They needed to find a new home for Winston and their other dog. I had always expressed love for Winston and regularly threatened to steal him away from them. One day, they asked me if I seriously wanted him.
We brought him home to meet our very old cat, Clovis, to make sure they could co-exist. Clovis didn't like him, but was willing enough to ignore him, and Winston was just thrilled to be there. So, we agreed to take him.
That was indeed a happy day for our family. He was a perfect fit. He was perfectly content to sleep his days away while we were away at work and school, completely secure in the fact that we would be home to spoil him soon. He loved to play catch with the kids and to wrestle with Bear. When we discovered that Clovis had advanced cancer and had to have him put down, he was a loving distraction for our grief. And when we decided to bring not one, but two young cats into the house, he handled it with class. When Banana decided that he made the perfect bed, his only reaction was a long suffering sigh. On his more energetic days, he loved to chase the cats down the hall, but he never made any real attempt the catch them, and they seemed to know it was just a game.
Winston was nowhere near a young dog when we got him, so we always knew that our time with him would not be terribly long. Right before we brought him to live with us, his previous owners found a fatty tumor right near his groin. The vet said it wasn't hurting anything and it should just be watched. Over the years, it grew to be quite large and started to cause problems for him. Large dogs often have hip problems as they get older, and the tumor was adding an extra weight in that area. By the time it started to cause serious problems, we were told that he was too old to operate on...that he wouldn't wake up from anesthesia.
Over the last few months, we noticed a fast decline. He was having serious trouble on the stairs, often having to stop and rest partway up and down and sometimes stumbling and falling several steps. He would stumble and fall when he was walking around. He would cry out in pain when he went to stand. Nights were the worst. He spent most evenings sitting on the couch whining from the pain.
As sad as it made us, it was time to intervene. We spent a wonderful week spoiling him as much as we could and spending a lot of quality time with him. Then we took him to the vet to be put down....
It has been over a week now, and it still hurts more than I can say. There are little reminders of him all over the house, and I often find myself waiting for him to come around the corner. In my mind, I know that we did the right thing, but in my heart, I just want my dog back now.
Winston: you were one of the best things that ever happened to this family. Thank you for everything you gave us. I hope that wherever you are there are plenty of cats to chase and that you are pain free with the energy to chase them all day. I love you so much!