When you bring home a new pet, you know they will never live as long as you would like. But, when they are floppy, fuzzy, and reeking of puppy breath, you don't have to think about that inevitability because it will be a long way off.
With our dog Max, that inevitability was set aside for fourteen and a half years. I have always known it could come around the corner at any time, but I kept hoping I wouldn't have to worry about it until tomorrow. Unfortunately, that tomorrow became a reality as we were forced to say goodbye to our beloved dog last month.
For a large mixed breed dog, Max was 100% healthy his entire life. Never had an issue. Except for old age of course. There was a slow, but noticeable physical decline for the past year or so. No biggy, we were working from home and we were managing just fine. The past six months or so, some dementia like symptoms set in and we were soon unable to deny the Max we had always known and loved was slowly, almost imperceptibly, slipping away before our very eyes. His joy, and unbreakable bond with us and the other pets disappeared. His cravings for human interaction and protective instincts were no longer present. Although he could have theoretically hung on physically for a while longer, it just wasn't fair to him, or us. So, in consultation with our amazing vet, we made the heart wrenching decision to end his suffering. It was a beautiful goodbye, just how he would have wanted it. He slipped into a pain free and peaceful sleep while munching his favorite treats. He was tired, and we told him it was ok for him to rest easy.
Watching this always confident dog become fearful of things, and not enjoying things he always had, like car rides, going for walks, playing with Abby, chasing the kitties playfully, hearing our voices, looking into our souls with his beautiful eyes, etc. It is like watching your loved one slip away before yours eyes without realizing you should have already said goodbye to them. By the time we realized what had happened, it was too late. So, I am writing the following letter addressed to Max as a way to say goodbye and help my heart heal. The way I should have told him before he lost his hearing, eye sight, and mind.
My Sweet Maximo,
I am sorry I didn't know your last long road trip was the last one you would ever take. I am sorry I didn't know the last time we snuggled on the couch was the last time you would ever put your paw on my leg as my forever protector. I am sorry I didn't realize that you loosing your sense of hearing meant you would never hear my loving voice again. I am sorry that as your eyesight deteriorated, you may not have even been able to see the smile you still brought to my face every day. I am sorry if you were ever in physical pain. We tried to make sure you weren't with medication and different therapies, but you were so stoic. We just never knew.
Thank you for being my soul mate in dog form. There will never be another like you, and I am so lucky to have had as much time with you as I did. You made my life wonderful and joyous. I never felt alone, because you were always there. I never longed for love, because you always willingly gave it. Your eyes told a story unlike any other. You were more human than dog. Your intelligence was infectious.
You came into our lives at the perfect moment. And you left this world that way too. You saw us through marriage, many moves, house purchases, anniversaries, birthdays, so many fun road trips, college, grad school, stressful times, and great times. You were by my side through cancer, surgeries, treatments, and helped me regain my strength. You were extra protective when I felt more vulnerable than I ever have. You knew exactly what I needed and when. It is like you knew your job was over, and your life purpose was complete, because you held on until I was back on my feet and feeling strong once again. You were perfect in every way.
I will be forever grateful to you Max.
Eternally your number one,
As we mourn one tremendous loss, my dad is wrapping his head around a loss of his own. His latest stomach biopsy results came in, and they aren't great. His plan to continue surveillance has been thrown out the window and he is scheduled to have his total gastrectomy (complete stomach removal) surgery on the 21st of June. This has all come as quite a shock and it is coming up quick. We have all been really hopeful this gene would spare him, but I guess that just isn't the case.
On one hand, I will no longer be the only King without a stomach. That is slightly comforting in a morbid sort of way. On the other, I am more scared and worried for his surgery than I was for my own! I guess ignorance is bliss. Before my gastrectomy, I had no idea what was in store for me in my recovery. Looking back and realizing how hard it was, and still is sometimes, I am having a hard time believing someone I love so much will be going through it too. No one stomachless person's recovery is the same, so I can hope his will be a bit more smooth sailing than mine. He also has me, and all of the knowledge I have gained over nearly two years, so maybe that will be the key. There were a lot of things I didn't know, that could have made a difference in my early days, and I am more than ready to share and help him through.
As you can see, we needed a little joy in our lives at this moment. So, I am happy to announce that we found the perfect little joy machine and named him Gus. He is a rescue mutt brought to MN from down south in search of a better life. Better life he has found. We lovingly call him "The Gus Monster," even though he is a really good puppy. We have swabbed his cheek and sent the swab off for DNA analysis as we have no idea what breeds he may be, or how big he might get. We don't really care, but are definitely curious. I'll keep you posted, or you can follow along on his very own instagram page @guscapades. Yes, I'm that dog mom ;)
As we adjust to puppy parenthood, it has been nearly 15 years since we experienced puppy teeth, and my dad adjusts to life as a new seahorse. Keep those positive thoughts and love flowing our way. We will need it.
Until next time.