Saying Good-bye to Man’s Best Friend

The family Dachshund just turned eighteen on June 9th. He is a skeleton with fur (photo is from years ago).  My son brought him out to my car to to show me the other day, since Wiener now lives with my ex.

I have been the one to do the hard job of taking the family dogs’ last rides to the vet.  First it was for Tess, the half Brittany spaniel, half Queensland blue heeler. Yes, she was a funny-looking dog. Some might even say she was ugly, but she had the best personality of any dog I’ve ever owned. She loved everyone and never growled a day in her life. She walked with no leash, trotting along and always returning when I called her. I attribute all that to her being born on an Iowa farm and having a rusted–out truck as her sun umbrella the day I picked her up for free.

There’s no such thing as a free dog, but in Omaha, in the 80’s, it was about as close as a person could get. The spaying bill was under $100.00. I think that old Omaha vet liked me.

Tess moved to California with me and the new hubby in 1985.  She had Boomer the half Beagle as her new housemate.  They got along just fine.

Boomer went to doggy heaven when our youngest child was a baby. Penny came to join the family when our youngest was two. Penny was part greyhound, another rescue. She loved people and hated dogs.  She grew up to be bigger than Tess and fought her for dominance. Tess didn’t want to give up her Alpha spot, but she was getting old.

After a tough year of keeping the two girls separate, I noticed one day that Tess couldn’t stand up. The kids were all pretty young, five to 13 years old. I had the oldest child help me put Tess in the car, and I left my daughter in charge while I ran Tess to the vet.  When the vet took a look at our family pet, she said, “This dog is not going home with you.”

I was ready to hear it, but my kids needed to say good-bye. Dr. Dowd offered to stay late if I could get someone to bring the kids. My neighbor Clark did the job for me. By the time the kids got to the vet’s, they were hysterical. The vet helped them each retrieve a lock of hair from Tess’s coat, which she secured in a little bundle with tape. Everyone cried, and then the three kids left the room before the procedure.

My great dog and buddy of sixteen years was gone. Now Penny had the run of the whole place to herself. The vet suggested that we not get another dog since Penny had dog aggression issues.

But when our son turned twelve, his dad got him a miniature Dachshund. Now big Penny and little Wiener needed to learn how to co-exist. It was easy. Wiener was happy to be the Beta of the pack.

When Penny was fourteen or so, she had trouble, too. By now, two of the kids had gone off to college, and the husband and I had split up.  I waited for my youngest to get home to help me take Penny to the vet.  Once we got there, the vet said Penny had some weird vertigo thing. That’s why she couldn’t stand up and why her eyes couldn’t track anything. The vet suggested that Penny was miserable.  The youngest called her dad, who came to say good-bye to the family dog.

We all stood there and hugged. Then the vet did the procedure. It was bad but not as bad as my first dog. Penny had really belonged to the kids. They’d spent summer days dressing her up in different outfits while she sat patiently and allowed them to do it.

Now Wiener was alone. He moved with my daughter and me when we left the big house for a much smaller one.  He lived with me after the youngest went off to college.  I got a puppy a few years later, and Wiener didn’t want to play anymore. He was too old.

When Sis moved in with me, Wiener moved over to my ex’s house, where he now resides with five other dogs. Yes, that is not a typo. Five.

Wiener is blind, deaf, incontinent, and constantly barking when he gets stuck in a corner and can’t back up (bad back leg).  I worry that when the time comes, my ex won’t be willing to take him to the vet for one last time. I saw it happen with Boomer, who was telling me daily he wanted to be done. My ex argued that Boomer wasn’t hurting anybody. But the dog had no quality of life.

I’ve asked each of our three children to help their dad with this.  Wiener can’t speak for himself, and they need to help their dad do the deed when the time comes.

It is never fun, but when a pet is suffering, it’s the right thing to do.

 

 

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