*photo of Merlin:
We had to put our dog down this morning. She’s been sick for a few years and we’ve known this day was coming, but it was very hard. Making the decision to euthanize a pet is so difficult. I wasn’t sure we were making the right decision until this morning when we saw her fall outside and urinate on herself. She was unable to stand or walk for long periods of time; putting pressure on her legs made her whole body shake. She suffered from excessive thirst and could never seem to get enough to drink. And yet, her tail wagged when we talked to her. She was always happy to see us.
We talked about it and said that as long as she was still mobile and eating regularly, we’d keep her with us. Recently she started eating less and drinking more, and several times a day, she would slip on the hardwood floors and couldn’t get up without help. This past week she started having diarrhea and vomiting, and her breathing continued to get so bad that she sounded like she was gasping for air all the time.
It was time.
The Husband and The Boy went to the vet for the procedure. The girls and I stayed home. Before they left, we sat with Merlin under the dining room table and said our goodbyes. She looked up at me with those cloudy eyes and her tail thumped softly on the floor. It seemed like she knew what was coming, and she was saying goodbye. Our cat Mabel came over and sniffed Merlin a few times, then sat down next to her. Animals are eerily perceptive.
Hollywood, Bumblebee and I sat crying under the dining room table with Merlin until it was time to go. They left for the vet and we talked about our memories.
I remembered when we first got her. The parents of a little boy that sometimes came around our house owned a dog who had a very large litter of pups. It was early July and very hot, and the puppies were living in an enclosed front porch that had no air conditioning. It was so hot that the mom stopped feeding the pups. They were going to take the litter to a shelter, and Hollywood wanted one very badly. I hadn’t talked about this with The Husband, but after seeing these puppies living in the horrible conditions, I couldn’t say no. I let her pick out a puppy, and I still like to tease her about picking out the ugliest one of the bunch. Most of the puppies were black or brown, this one was orange and brown and white. She grew into a beautiful adult dog, though.
We told Bumblebee the story of when she was a baby and I was walking her down the street in her stroller, a large german shepherd came running towards us. I don’t think the dog would’ve hurt us, but Merlin jumped right in front of Bumblebee’s stroller and snarled at this very large dog. She was protecting her baby!
Hollywood reminded us of another time when The Boy had taken a nap on the floor of the living room. He was all stretched out, lying on his stomach. It was an odd place for him to be napping. Merlin came into the room and went nuts, alerting TH and me to The Boy’s condition. He was fine, but she didn’t know that… Another example of her protection.
I’ll miss taking walks and jogs with Merlin. We haven’t been able to do that for a long time since she’s been sick, but she loved to go on walks with us. She’d get so excited when I put on my athletic shoes. Sometimes we’d have to spell the word W-A-L-K if we didn’t mean it was her kind of walk or else she’d go nuts on us.
I remember one time, when she was very young, we took her on a walk to the park. She loved going to the park or nearby school’s playground with me and the kids. On this particular occasion, she had just been spayed and her belly was still tender and sore. We were careful with her, but she hopped up and chased after The Boy as he went up a twisty slide. She flipped down that slide and flopped onto that sore belly of hers. We all held our breath, but she simply yelped a short “ow!” and was off chasing the kids towards the swings.
She passed away peacefully. The Husband said he held her head in his hands as the injection was administered and it really hit him hard when her body relaxed at last. As the medicine took effect and her heart stopped, she passed gas, a product of muscles relaxing or contracting as her broken body shut down. The thought of her farting on her way to the other side makes me smile. She sure knew how to stink up a room.
We will miss her. It’s a sad time for us, and yet we are closer as a family today; united in our grief and memories of our years with her. She was part of our family for almost eleven years, and we will never forget the joy she brought to us.
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