A week ago, I took The Old Boy and The Lurcher into the woods together for the last time.
Our old dog, Wilf, had been diagnosed with a large, inoperable, abdominal tumour just over two weeks previously and I had spent a hellish fortnight mithering about what to do for the best. He was still eating and loved a walk, but he found it difficult to get comfortable lying down and followed us around the house, panting and looking at us. Then on the Friday night, he came and lent up against me for a pat and I felt fluid gathering on the underside of his chest and abdomen. This is called oedema and was a sign that some of his organs were beginning to fail.
For me it was also a sign that it was Time.
The next morning he seemed brighter, and the fluid build up was almost gone. But I knew it would be back, probably before the day ended. He had had a bad night and had been forever panting and changing position as he slept beside my bed. Despite the drugs he was taking he was obviously uncomfortable. I offered him breakfast but he wasn’t interested, so we went for a walk in the woods instead.
He enjoyed our walk but sat or lay down at every opportunity. He also growled at a friendly dog that got too close to him; he’d been doing rather a lot of growling over the last few weeks, this was unusual for him as he’d always been pretty social. On the way back he was staggering and fell over a couple of times, but was still cheerful when I lifted his back end into the car.
When we got home, he ate some of his food then lay down for a bit. It was obvious that life was unlikely to improve for him, and so I made the Big Decision that he would be put down.
He was sedated without the kids noticing and came and laid down in the lounge while they played on the wii. I told them he was really unwell now, and was going to die soon and they all had a little cry and gave him some strokies. The Lurcher laid beside him, in an almost identical pose.
Then DH took them into the kitchen for lunch while the Deed was done. I wept while the needle was being prepared and he lifted his head up and pawed at me; he’d always hated me crying. Of course this made me sob even harder.
Wilfie slipped away from his life quietly and painlessly in our living room last Saturday afternoon. I sat beside him and bawled my eyes out quietly as I cleaned up. Then I blew my nose very hard, wiped my eyes and went into the kitchen to tell the kids and DH that our family was now one dog down.