Today we had to make a difficult decision to put down our big, smelly, oaf of a dog who caused us many headaches but was a loyal companion and a big cuddler, the infamous Shade. He was 16 years old, which is nothing short of a miracle for a big dog like him.
Lately, Shade had started losing control of his bladder and bowels and we spent the last six months trying to accommodate him, keep him clean, and stay one step ahead of his frequent bathroom breaks. But, alas, there were a lot of accidents and pretty soon he was confined to his kennel, with breaks in the evening when we could keep a closer eye on him. We washed blankets hundreds of times, and spent hours cleaning. Plus, it was not fun for the poor dog. We tried medication, which gave us a brief reprieve, but the problem continued and it was soon time to make a tough decision. He had many "old age" problems, including losing his hearing and sight (not entirely, but definitely lost some of his "crocodile jaws" skills when he could snap a piece of food out of the air like nobody's business!). He was covered in benign tumors and had a strange "horn" growing out of his head. He was a mess, but he was a happy mess.
When Jeff made the decision to make today his last day, we decided to give him the "best, last day ever!" Yesterday, Jeff took a half day off work, came home, and gave Shade a good bath. He then took him a long, long walk in the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Later, Shade hung out in the garage with him, while Jeff puttered around. Then, they took a nap together, snuggling on the floor. Next, we took him to McDonald's for dinner and he got his own quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a Coke! We went to a church nearby that had a fantastic light/music show and Shade got to run around, get petted by the church ladies, and people promised to pray for him and our family. It was very sweet.
After we got home, Shade enjoyed a nice bowl of ice cream with whipped cream on top - just like his master! Later, he got a huge blanket nest for a bed, next to Jeff's side, and he slept all night in our room with us (something he hadn't been able to do for months because of the accidents). In the morning, he reluctantly extracted himself from his warm bed and went downstairs where Jeff prepared him a big breakfast of eggs and veggies. Shade gobbled it up!
We took him with us when we dropped Arlie off at gym, then went to the trail for a nice walk in the rain. Shade enjoyed a Hershey bar before the walk, and he had a grand old time sniffing around the park. Back in the car, we picked up Arlie at gym and then we all went to the vet. By this time, there were a lot of tears, doubt, sadness. At the vet, we were taken into a private room and they brought us a blanket for Shade to lay on. He was a good boy, laying down for us, and we snuggled him while they shaved his leg and administered the medicine. A few seconds, and he was gone. We held him and cried and Jeff said "You were a good boy, Shade."
Goodbye, old friend.We will miss you. The house will be so quiet without your Chewbaca-like noises, your incessant barking, and your high-pitched whine. No longer will your ginormous claws dig into an unsuspecting person while you try to be a lap dog - all 70 pounds of you! Ok, so there are some things we won't miss TOO much. But your enthusiasm for walks, short rides in the car, and just being a side-by-side companion for Jeff will be truly missed. You were a loyal hunting companion, even if you wouldn't retrieve. Your sweet face, soft ears and snuggly self provided warmth for all who cuddled with you. No one could do crocodile jaws like you! You inspired many a blog post and kept life interesting, if not exhausting and exasperating. You will be missed! Good dog, Shade!