Boo is gone. Both of my "original" babies are gone now, and it seems like the passing of an era. And even though I still have Tilly, the house feels so empty now.
My little Boo, who had been with me through all my ups and downs. Who had become my little shadow...no one could think of me without thinking of him. All of my friend's kids knew me as Boo's mom. 14 years of love and growing and growing old.
He'd been healthy his entire life, but the last two years saw drastic changes. Blindness. Partial hearing loss. Two tumors removed. His gait also went through a change, subtle at first. The first year saw merely a strange little step here and there. Another goes by and it's impossible to make it up and down steps. Arthritis, the vet says, though this new vet believes it was the result of a tumor. In the last two months, he barely left his bed.
I also began to notice a subtle sort of confusion. Boo would pause at random points, his "gaze" locked onto nothing. His gait became even more unsteady, to the point where he could barely hold himself upright when going potty. Two nights ago, he stopped eating. When I lifted him, he was as limp as a rag doll. I thought perhaps he would go peacefully that night and made him comfortable, but he held on. The next day I took him to the vet.
He seemed more alert than the previous night, and I started to feel a bit of hope that maybe this was an infection, like last time, and we could beat it again, but on the trip to the office, I noticed how prominently his little spine stood out and how sunken in his haunches had become. His breathing also seemed more labored than usual, with a sort of rasping shudder at each intake of breath.
His adventurous spirit raised its head just a little once we reached the office, and he eagerly sniffed and explored...but had to pick himself off the floor every few steps as he stumbled and fell. The doctor said we could do an endless battery of tests. We could also try to treat the symptoms as a simple infection and try to make him as comfortable as possible, but when I asked her what she would do, she said something that really resonated with me. She asked what was the one thing I could say about Boo. About his personality and what made him…well…him. I told her that he was the bravest dog I've ever seen and loved and embraced life. Then she asked if that was still who he was. I thought about him as he is now. Jumping at every noise. Too weak to explore beyond the confines of his dog bed. Barely being able to take two steps without collapsing. Yes, he was still brave, but his little body was so ravaged and tired. Perhaps we could have treated the nausea, given him fluids to counteract the dehydration, and given him medicines to manage the pain, but the legs would never regain their mobility. He would spend the rest of his remaining days (which I did not believe would be long) confined to his bed…not seeing, not hearing. If I did that, I would be doing it out of selfishness, and because I didn’t want to let him go.
Making the decision was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I sat in that room endlessly repeating “I don’t know what to do” and crying until my voice became hoarse. I called friends. I called family. But once the choice was made, I felt…no, I KNEW it was the right one.
They gave him the sedative, and I held him in my arms until he fell asleep. I told him I loved him. Petted and scratched all of his favorite places. Whispered how we would see each other again. Sang him the silly song I had made with his name all those years ago. The happy song I would hum and sing to him during our quiet, cuddling moments. And then I let him go…
If you can hear me, my brave little man, I want you to know I meant every word.