I met him in a Target parking lot and fell in love in an instant.
He wasn’t the first puppy I had looked at, but the right one. Just a few months prior, at a breeders suggestion, I was allowed to bring a pup home from her litter for a trial run. Pedro. He was absolutely adorable. Everything one might want in a Golden Retriever pup, except that after our allotted four hours, I knew the timing wasn’t right. The connection wasn’t there. I returned him to the breeder with thanks and an explanation. I had not a doubt that he belonged with another family.
I wanted another pup and knew it would happen at some point in the future but was OK with putting the idea on the back burner for awhile. And then, after stopping in at a friends house one February day I was greeted at the door by her, an eight week old, red-haired Golden Retriever babe in her arms. I oohed and ahhhed and petted and cuddled ......loosing track of the fact that she was even standing there. When I mentioned that a new member of our family was something I’d considered for awhile, she followed up with the information that she thought one of her pups litter mates was still available. Did I want the phone number? It couldn’t hurt to check it out.
I knew how I had felt holding her pup, but wasn’t completely sure I was ready to bring another living, breathing, shedding and un-trained being into our home, which was why I mentioned to Marc that I meant to simply ‘take a look’. The breeder offered to meet me at a location closer to my home since she would be out that way anyway.
The Target parking lot.
Round body. Soft red coat. Black marble eyes. Gentle demeanor. Without question or hesitation I transferred him from her arms to mine where his nose settled into the hollow of my neck and his warmth settled into my chest. With barely a word the deal was sealed. As it turned out, he had been returned to his breeder after spending three days with a couple who knew he wasn’t the dog for them (thank you). But I didn't have a doubt. This dog belonged in our family. With that first nuzzle I knew he had a place alongside me, Marc, our three boys, a dog and a cat. And I knew his name: Logan after one of our favorite places on earth, Logan’s Pass in Glacier National Park.
Seven years later his symptoms came on quickly. In retrospect maybe they had been there for a month or so, but it wasn't so unusual for him to throw his food up after gobbling it down all too fast, occasionally skip a meal or to sleep the day away. He was a dog after all. I took him in one day, when after giving him a pat on his way out the back door, I was shocked to feel the bony protrusions of his scapula. A split second glance registered the outline of vertebrae down the center of his back. Afterward, he declined my offer of cheese. This is a creature that hung out with me almost all day, every day, and in just a few minutes I noticed that he, all of a sudden, looked and acted uncharacteristically different. Like a different dog.
A couple of visits to our regular vet, then an ultrasound at a specialty clinic showed the grim prognosis. The cancer, by the time it was discovered (most probably histiocytic sarcoma) had spread throughout his GI tract and other internal organs. An aggressive bully, insensitive and out for its own gain, it robbed him of 10 pounds, his ability to ingest food or water and stole most of his energy except for an occasional tail wag.
In the face of bad news I can be logical. Stoic. Able to take the next step forward in order to move through the motions of whatever needs to be done. I was able to ask questions, listen to their answers, take notes, make phone calls, talk to my husband and our sons. I relayed information and knew that the rest of his family was in agreement: whatever we chose to do had to be all about Logan and not one bit about us. He was a loving, loyal, gentle, appreciative, generous and happy creature. Not one of us wanted to prolong his life in the face of pain or suffering. The decision, when the time came, was simple, easy and made painful sense. It was time......and before either of us voiced it, Marc and I had been seated quietly together, independently thinking the same thing. So at 9-something PM on a Sunday night, he was loaded onto a rug in the backseat of our car for the last time.
On this day it is difficult to realize that I will no longer hear a groan as he changes position in his sleep. No wet panting in my face when it’s time for me to ‘GET UP!’ No eager offer (from him) of a morning game of chase around the coffee table. There will be no sound of tail thumping before I even make it ‘round a corner or into a room. No cheering him on right around 7 PM each evening in his frantic search to find a sock he can present to Marc at the front door. No bits of kibble strategically placed under the kitchen table for who-knows-what doggie reason.
I have a washer full sheets and a blanket that made him comfortable during his last few days. His bed lays empty at the foot of mine. I miss him deeply and with my whole being. There will be routines to undo; moments I will need to correct in order to remind myself that my anticipation at seeing him is no longer useful.
And I have spent brief moments...... vacillating........wondering...... ‘Did we let him go too soon?’ ‘Allow him to suffer a couple of days too long?’ Sometime ago I remember hearing or reading or being told that the best day to put a pet down is the day before you think you need to.
We did the right thing.
And he is making a bunch of souls very happy in Heaven right now. I am sure of it. Smiling, running, chasing, protecting, patrolling and announcing his presence. Laughing (because research shows that dogs do laugh) and twirling ‘round and ‘round, chasing his tail, in his signature happy-dance move.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead. XO Margaret