If you want to skip this one, have at it. But I have to write it. Right now it’s the best way I can cope.
Earlier this morning I had my dog put to sleep.
That’s Angus. I’ve posted about him before. I got him when he was 2 months old. He was abandoned and split from his family in a terrible way. His “owner” dumped him and his siblings out in the February cold. My buddy found him and his sister huddled together to keep warm. He asked me if I wanted him and I took him.
I took him because I was drunk at the time. I really wasn’t ready for a dog and I really didn’t want a dog. Never mind that all the dogs I had ever had in my life up to that point had been family dogs. I had never taken care of one on my own.
At first things were rocky between us. He loved me and latched on to me hard, because he had nobody else. I didn’t know how to take him or his constant desire to be with me. At night I’d put him in a cage so he could get used to being in it, since he would have to be in it while I was gone at work. He would cry all night and I would yell at him to shut up. He was so little and probably so scared, but I yelled. I didn’t know better.
If I could turn back time and do it all over again, I would. And I would do it all so much better. I would have let him sleep in bed with me, for one. As he got older, he did. He’d flop down in the bed, right up next to me. Sometimes he’d damn near shove me out of bed when he flopped. He was funny that way. And in many other ways.
That’s how big he was when I got him. When he did something wrong I’d put him in his cage and leave the room. He would cry and I would try to ignore him, all the while being pissed and annoyed at him. Finally I’d let him out and he would want to lay next to me while I sat on the couch. He would try his hardest to jump up on the couch, but he just couldn’t quite reach, so I’d have to pick him up. He would wag his tail and climb all over my lap, biting and licking at my hands.
I didn’t really feel as if I wanted him for a good while after I got him. I even went online and placed an ad in the local paper, including that picture I posted above. The morning I placed that ad (it wasn’t going to run until the next day), I kept looking at that picture, and I cried. I couldn’t get rid of him. I couldn’t do that to him. Not after everything he had been through already in his short life.
I pulled the ad.
A few nights later, and still annoyed at him being around, we finally had our bonding moment. He once again followed me into the kitchen and I could feel him behind me as I stood at the sink. I just knew he was standing there wanting whatever it was I was fixing, which was nothing. I yelled, “EAT YOUR FOOD!” I turned around and he was standing at his food bowl and it was empty. He was looking up at me with his tail wagging.
After that things got a lot better between us. We would play and romp. He was always happy to see me when I came home. When he was little and he would go outside, he would sit in the front yard and watch everything going on around him. He would just sit and watch it all. Birds flying, cars driving by, people walking down the street. He would just sit and watch. It wasn’t until later when he decided it was more fun to bark at everything, regardless if it was moving, or even a living thing. He just loved to bark.
Then the one night, just before bed, when he decided he wanted to play. I was sitting on the couch and had my hand on my knee. He jumped up to get at my hand and when he landed on the floor I heard a little pop and he began yelping and writhing around on the floor. My heart sank.
I ran him to the local 24 hour vet and discovered he had broken a tiny bone in his knee. The vet said he had never seen or heard of that bone breaking and wasn’t even sure how it could happen. I had to take him to a specialist. He had to stay there for two days, and while he was there the doctor was going to fix a little hernia he had in his stomach and snip his balls. All at the same time.
When the two days was up and I went to get him, the doctor told me he might be slow to move for a few days. That was a joke. He gladly left the place with me and as soon as I opened my door he jumped up into my Blazer and was ready to go home. He had a dish around his head for a while, but eventually his knee healed up and he was just fine. It never bothered him again, and his bone grew around the tiny screw they inserted to hold the bone together. That surgeon did a great job.
I used to roll around on the floor and he would happily try to lick my face, while jumping around and barking at me. He would also run from end to end in the house. When he would get in those moods, he was out for blood. He would get in the pounce position and I would put both hands firmly on each side of his face. He would snarl loudly and try to bite both hands. Then he would take off and run around the house, growling and snarling. Then we’d do it again. When he wore himself out, he would lick my hand then lay down while huffing and puffing.
He was special, not just to me, but also to my grandmother, whom we both lived with. When he was little and I’d get mad at him and put him in his cage in the other room, she would go to his cage and talk to him and pet him through the bars. I’d yell at her, telling her he was in trouble and to let him go, but she just couldn’t. She fell in love with him right away.
When I went off to work, she would watch him. He never stayed in his cage. She also allowed him to have bad habits. For every thing I tried to teach him, she let him get away with something. For one, she would let him chew on her old shoes. I told her that he would think chewing on all shoes was okay. She said he would only chew on old shoes. And then he ran out of the room and returned with one of her new shoes in his mouth. As if it were planned. That put an end to him chewing on shoes.
She fed him from the table, which I told her not to, but she insisted. It was so bad that when she’d turn her back, he would jump up with his front paws on the table and eat our dinner. I put a stop to that quickly.
The biggest thing she did for him was, she bought ham hocks and gave him one every day as a treat. I told her that would kill him, but she didn’t listen. He loved those hocks.
One time she picked up a round bone from the store and brought it home. I came home from work and she was hysterical. He had that bone around his jaw and couldn’t get it off. His lower fangs got in the way and his mouth muscles were all tensed up. He was drooling everywhere and pushing at the bone with his paws. I freaked out because there was nothing I could do and I was going to have to take him to the vet, which I couldn’t afford.
I got him in the car and… he was so excited to be going somewhere, he relaxed his muscles and it just fell off. I threw the bone away.
A couple days later I came home from work to find she had brought him another one home and he was, once again, in the same predicament. I yelled at her and she told me it was smaller than the last so she thought it wouldn’t happen again. Smaller? Great.
I got him in the car, only it didn’t come off that time. I drove him up the road to a park. I thought maybe if I got his mind on smelling all the stuff that he would forget about the bone and it would drop off again. And it did. So we walked around the park and he smelled all the stuff.
My grandmother started feeling ill and wasn’t doing so great, so she went to stay in a nursing home. This was tough for me, as I worried about her greatly. Angus would whine sometimes and sit next to her chair. Before she left he would regularly sit between her legs while she sat in that chair and she would pet him. He would often look up at her and lick her face.
When she went into the nursing home, she knew she wasn’t coming home. We didn’t know it then, but now I know that she knew. When I went to visit her one time I took a picture of Angus to her. She cried. She never got to say goodbye to him. My mom told me, after visiting my grandma on a few occasions, that my grandma would ask how Angus was. She never asked how I was.
Years went by and everything went pretty well. Last summer he got into some weeds in the back yard and had a seizure. I don’t think I was that scared when he broke his knee. He recovered okay from that, we got rid of the weeds, and he never had another seizure. At least I never saw him have another one.
Everything was going pretty well after that, until a few months ago when he started walking really stiff. It just happened out of nowhere. I took him to the vet and the vet gave me some medicine for him to try. He immediately livened up again on it, but his walking was still pretty bad.
It only got worse. He had the hardest time walking around. He’d often fall and have a hard time getting up. Most recently, when my wife and I would come home from work, he would be so excited to see us he would poop on the floor, then he’d fall in it because he couldn’t stand while pooping.
Just laying around he would whine, and I’m sure it was from pain. He was miserable and I was miserable for him. I hated seeing him like that, and at only 8 years old. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and I’m still battling myself on whether or not I did the right thing. I just don’t want him to be in pain anymore, and now he’s not. He helped me make up my mind. When we got to the vet, I picked him up from the car and placed him on the ground. He couldn’t get his footing and drug his back legs all the way through the parking lot. We didn’t even get to the front door of the place. He just laid on the asphalt and panted. He would try to get up and give up, just laying on his side. I knew then that I couldn’t let him go on like that. I would have picked him up and carried him, but I couldn’t get my arms under him with him laying like that.
My wife had gone to sign us in, and then came out to say they wanted to be paid up front, so she stayed with Angus while I went in. Just as I was paying they came walking in. I guess he wanted to go where I went. Once he got inside, he collapsed again, so the staff got a towel and used it to lift up his back end while we walked into a room. They gave us all the time we needed. We said what we had to, and then it was done. No time will ever be enough time, but it was all I could handle, and he didn’t need to suffer any longer just to suit my wanting to be with him.
On our way home my wife and I stopped at the park where I took him to get that bone off of his mouth. We did a little more crying, then came home.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but I think I’ve reminisced enough. I’ve done enough crying while writing this and I think I’m ready to finally go to bed.
I’m so very sorry Angus. I wasn’t a great dad to you but I loved you so very much. I know I did wrong many times. But I hope you know I loved you, because I know you loved me. It’s time for you to be grandma’s dog again. Be a good boy buddy, and keep her company until I can see you again.