Well...this is really it. In a very short amount of time I will be letting my once-in-a-lifetime dog go. It is so surreal. A little over fourteen years ago I got him out of a kennel at the pound to take a tick off his chest. He laid on his back right next to me begging me to spring him from the joint. He has been with me through fourteen years of my life, and much of it has been together. A friend of mine recently lost two of her dogs, and she precisely stated "they are like a time line in your life."
Chance, Ethan, and I went to the park the other day. While Ethan and I were at the swings Chance enjoyed some long sniffs around the garbage cans. We really couldn't go on much of a walk, but we did enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
I have a trip planned for this weekend. I am going back for my 10 year vet school class reunion. Chance will spend time at my parent's house in the country while I am away for a day. I was thinking back about the time in vet school with Chance, and I remember:
-Chance running around with a bunch of dogs while we studied in the Anatomy lab after hours
-Learning that my dog would gag if he smelled blood, a scab, or a bugger (GROSS!)
-Chance getting in a tussle over his frisbee while he was in the park. We scavenged around in the large animal clinic for sedatives and suture to fix him up.
-Being in shape because I attached a leash around my waist to a harness Chance would wear so he could PULL me around the block
-Waking up early freshman year to make it to the park for a good squirrel chase
-Living at the 4-H house as the youngest 'house mom' on campus with Chance....he once helped me get a group of TP'ing fraternity boys to cool it & leave
-Snuggling up each night with Chance under the covers... I used to think it was weird that people let animals sleep in their bed before I got Chance.
Marc and I are planning a party for Monday night for Chance. So far we have decided he will want pigs in a blanket and a cake. We are going to have a celebration of his life, and I am going to try REALLY hard not to cry. It really upsets Chance to see me cry, and I am going to try to hold it together for my child. Until then I will continue to prepare. I need to pick up another bag of those gross snausages because they were his favorite before I knew better. For now he has his own jar of human beef jerky sticks, and I have been giving him some of our food as a topper to his meal each day. He gets lots of good treats to hide his medications and supplements. He gets as many kisses on his head as he can stand, and I have been trying to give him a nice massage when ever possible. I have noticed that being touched has its limits. He will allow one to two minutes of it before he walks away to go lay on his bed.
It is time. It has been time. I am not ready. I find myself thinking not as a veterinarian but as an owner. His coat is too shiny. He can still walk (not well...especially not well after he falls down the two steps that he has to make it up to get into our house. We carry him up and down). He can still eat. But...he can't lay down. He has to have his squishy dog bed. The luster is gone from his eyes. He sleeps all the time. Neighbors ask me "what is wrong with your dog?" as they see him try to get around outside. His body is worn to the point that I am uncomfortable asking him to keep on living for me. When it comes down to it he has really been there for me, and it is time that I am there for him in the most important way possible. I hope I can keep it together...
Dr. Strobbe lives with her Son, Ethan, in Ames Iowa.