A year ago last November our family dog, A sweet little shelte named Stewie, began having severe health problems brought on by kidney failure. We nursed him along as long as we felt was humane, flushed his exhausted little system with fluids, and finally made the difficult decision to put him to rest eternally.
Stewie was a quirky little guy. If you ever said "I've got to go to work!" and started for the door, he would hook his front paw around your leg and start to growl ferociously. Then, if you continued for the door, he would hang on tenaciously as you dragged him across the hardwood floor like a fluffy canine Swiffer, growling all the way.
Stewie responded to his name, but he also responded to "Chewy" "Pooie" and "Stupid". He loved to howl along to "Happy Birthday". Birthday dinners at my parents house are relatively chaotic, but even more so when you have a dog howling along to the guest of honor. In fact, Stewie would howl along to most general types of singing, and also when I played "Danny Boy" on the piano. He would nearly piddle himself with excitement the moment you entered the house, and would not cease barking until your gave him his propers. He would follow my father around the house, constantly underfoot. This inevitably led to my father ranting "Goddamned dog! " I think Stewie secretly liked being called "Goddamned dog!" because it never seemed to deter him. He had a whole lot of personality, that Stewie.
We all witnessed his rapidly declining health with heavy hearts and called upon our cousin Brody, A veteranarian, to discuss our plan of action. She agreed to come to our home so Stewie could pass on peacefully in familiar surroundings. Two of my three sisters (Betsy was in France, which was probably for the best, as this was kind of HER dog), my two nieces and I waited uncomfortably for Brody to arrive with her death kit.
On one hand, we were trying to lavish Stewie with attention. On the other had, we did not give him any indication that we were anticipating the arrival of his very own personal grim reaper. It was ackward to say the least. I wanted to cry and shower him with hugs, affection and sobs, but did not want to alarm him and render him privy to his impending fate. We stared at eachother and at the dog, who lay emaciated and listless on the floor, occasionally gathering the strength to look up at us, wag his tail, and twist the knife we all felt plunged deep in our hearts.
Being uncomfortable with the silence and the grief, I did what I usually do in that situation and thought of the most inappropriate thing possible to say.
"You know, we could use his remains to make a zip-up dog-suit and dress Molly's cat in it when we miss him."
"We could save Brody the trouble and just throw him under a moving car."
"After Brody puts the dog to sleep and leaves, let's NEVER EVER invite her over again. When we see her will point at her and wail 'You killed our dog!' and cry, okay?"
My nerves make my head go to very strange places. The sad part being my inability to keep some of these things "inside thoughts".
Brody arrived, and was so very sweet and patient as we all said goodbye to our dear little comrade. She shaved his little forepaw, just like he was a dead dog walking. My God it was heartwrenching. She gave him something to relax him, and then gave him an injection that made him try to force his tired body to get up, that made him yelp once, and that finally made him lie down forever. We were all in tears. Some of us (okay, Molly) were sobbing uncontrollably.
My mind automatically went to that practical place (I get it from my father) and I started to say things like "Dog's don't live as long as people do" and "we really gave him a great life". I must be like, the worlds most annoying person in these situations. I am surprised no one kicked me in the head for being such a sod of a windbag. Like I actually know anything.
Brody took our dear shelte's vacated body and had Stewie cremated. We have his ashes in a box on the shelf in my parents closet. We love to say "SIT Stewie! SIT! Good Boy!" and "Stay! Stay! Good Boy Stewie!"
We think we are terribly funny.
We still miss that little guy.