Yesterday I had to have Dusty T. Dog put to sleep. He had a stroke — I witnessed it — and having experienced this with other dogs, I knew I wasn’t going to let Dusty have another. It wasn’t a difficult decision.
My favorite vet appeared at my house with his veterinarian truck — think a 2019 version of All Creatures Great and Small. When I called them at 1:00 he was out somewhere in the country doing James Herriot type things. I had to wait two hours, but I just put the China book on Kindle using new software. It was a good distraction.
By then Dusty had improved, but still couldn’t easily get up or stand steadily on his feet. Dusty loved this vet and tried to demonstrate happiness to see him at our house, but couldn’t really. Dr. Crawford greeted Dusty with a hearty, “Hello, handsome,” and scratched his ears. He did a thorough exam and except for not being able to stand and appearing confused, Dusty seemed fine. “All his vitals are good, but he’s not right, is he. What happened? “
I described it.
“He’s suffered what we call TIA in humans. He’ll improve, but there’s every chance he’ll have another.”
I said, “I don’t want Dusty to go through another day like this.”
“You must really love this dog,” said my vet.
He explained the procedure — which I’m either unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective — familiar with. I said, “It’s OK. I know. I’ve had nearly 30 dogs.”
“Yeah. I like dogs.”
“A little bit, I’d say. So now you’ll just have one dog?” He knows Bear.
“No. I got a mini-Aussie a couple of weeks ago.”
“How do they do together?”
“They play all the time.”
“Yeah, I always wanted a dog but my parents wouldn’t let me. When I was 35 I got my own house and realized I could finally have a dog.”
“You made up for lost time.”
“You have to seize the day,” I said, thinking of all the dogs I’d been privileged to love and put down when the time came. Dr. Crawford and I talked a bit about that, too, how the procedure for which we were prepping Dusty would have been humane for some people we’d loved.
Dusty went to the Enchanted Forest peacefully where he is now playing with his Siberian husky sisters that he loved so much. Lily was waiting for him, or, anyway, that’s how I choose to look at it. I miss him. We were together for fourteen years through all kinds of changes in life.
After I’d cleaned up the house I took Bear and Teddy for a walk and on the way back, we got to talk to the little girl, Michelle. She saw us and was so excited that she would get to see Bear and Teddy and talk to me. It’s amazing to be such an important event in a little girl’s life, humbling and a great honor.
“Teddy’s so cute,” she said.
“Yeah, he’s a good dog. Are you thirsty, Teddy?” I asked him. He was panting. “He can’t really talk.”
“Well, he’s a dog. I have to watch what he does to know what he wants to tell me.”
“Oh. Where’s Dusty? Was he bad?” I get from that that she and her brother get time-outs or lose privileges when they’re “bad.”
She only got to meet Dusty once, and she liked him a lot. That was only this past Monday. It just happened that I was walking Dusty alone, and it was easy to bring him to their fence to meet.
I don’t lie to kids. “Dusty is dead, Michelle. He died today.”
“What happened to him?”
“He had a stroke.”
“Oh. C’mere Teddy.”
“I have take these guys home for a drink of water.”
“OK.” So I walked along their fence (chain link, 3 feet) and Michelle walked beside me then, took off to run to the gate beside the alley, behind what was once a chicken house. When I arrived there she had the gate open and was ready. “Bye! See you next time!!!” Waving at us with all her heart.
I thought that was a pretty good memorial service for Dusty T. Dog
Today Bear is very tired and sad. She spent all of her life so far with Dusty T. Dog and they were friends. Because of her breed, its sensitivity to the feelings of the creatures around her and being unsettled by change, I think it might take her a while to return to the “real” Bear. Teddy is a puppy who only knew Dusty for 2 1/2 weeks.
I’m looking at my empty coffee cup and for the first time in many, many years I won’t put it on the floor for my big, black dog to lick the cream from the sides.