No more excited barks as I enter my house, welcoming me home from the grocery store or a Zumba class. No more pitter-patter underfoot as I cook dinner, slurping up spilled wine and spaghetti sauce. No more furry, living and breathing throw pillow on my bed, burrowing under the covers at night and resting in the crook of my knees. My freakin' dog is gone. I took him to the vet last Friday morning, and he never came home. Rox has moved on to doggy heaven.
Because I've shared so much about Rox in the few shorts weeks I've been a blogger, I feel compelled to share his last chapter.....
A month ago, Rox had surgery to remove kidney stones. The doctor did the best she could with the mess inside, but it was a rough recovery, and as we now know, he never did truly recuperate (Read post from 2/24 for full synopsis). After being in and out all day last Thursday, I noticed around dinner time that Rox was not acting normal. When I let him out to do his business, I watched closely to make sure all was good there. It wasn't, and immediately I had flashbacks. Can he really have kidney stones again? Already? After being on his special diet? What's a doggy-mom to do? I was prepared to call the vet in the morning. By 9pm that night, the poor guy was pacing and trying to lay down in the oddest of places. Never able to get comfortable, he would whine, cry, and make all sorts of terrible, painful noises. I called the vet's office, hoping to leave a message and hear from someone over night. Never did. By 4am, Rox either finally fell asleep, or just didn't have anything left for complaining. He was quiet for a few hours, laying under my bed (which he only does when he's in trouble or not feeling well). I called the vet and she had me bring him in.
I really felt in my gut that this was it. He looked so sick and tired. I remembered how difficult the previous surgery and recovery was for him, and wondered if going through it all again was even humane. The doctor looked at him, and I could tell in her kind eyes that she was fearful of the same thing. We talked, and her suggestion was to put him under, take a look inside, and if things looked bad, we let the poor dog go. I questioned her about letting the kids come in after school, or me coming back to be with Rox as he slipped away, but she explained that there would be no reason to bring him out of the anesthesia if it was his time. Through my tears (and face contortions), I told her I understood.
How does this lady do this everyday? Tell people when it's time to let go? I'm the one who refers to her pet as "freakin' dog" and makes fun of people who put pics of their animals in frames on their desks (you know the ones, sans kids). I never referred to, or considered my dog my "fourth child." And yet, here I am, bawling my eyes out at the thought of losing him. I needed to call Big Daddy for backup and comfort. I called his office and explained the sit(uation). I told him I would put him on speaker phone so Rox could hear him. After the longest pause ever....Big Daddy choked out his goodbye. I spent the next five minutes holding my baby, hugging him, telling him what a good doggie he was and how much we loved him. I also told him that he had lived a good life, and if he needed to, he could leave us now and rest. It's weird. I remember telling my grandpa the same thing years ago as he slept in his hospital bed. It was the last time I saw him alive, too.
I was in my kids' school gym, setting up decorations for the next night's big fundraising event when I got the call. Doc informed me about ill-placed scar tissue, the risk of infection, etc., etc. I thanked her for all she had done, and told her to proceed with the most humane decision. She said she was glad we took the time to look, so we knew without a doubt, it was indeed the best thing for Rox. I hung up my cell, walked into a backstage closet, and again, bawled my eyes out.
Big Daddy came home early to help me break the news to the kids. I won't go into too much detail here. Of course, they were very upset and there were more tears. MT blinked back his tears, and quickly assumed the role of "cheer everyone up" guy for the rest of the night. I didn't realize how strong he is. I have forbidden any and all books, movies, and tv specials having to do with dogs for the time being. I think Hong Kong Phooey would be too much for us right now - Marley & Me (currently playing on HBO) would surely send us into hysterics.
Sunday, the decorating committee again called me to the school gym - this time for clean-up. I spent two and a half hours undoing everything we had done over the last two months. Exhausted, both mentally and physically, I walk in the house (ungreeted) and find not much has been done since I left. I'm wondering why cereal boxes and bowls are still sitting on the table when it's lunchtime. ZuZu pops into view and begins talking in her really high "I'm excited" voice:
ZuZu: Mom, I cleaned my room! Come look. It's totally organized!
(she emphasizes this word, knowing how happy the thought of it makes me).
Me: Okay, let me just have a bite of this tomato pie. I'm starving! Did you guys have cereal for lunch?
ZuZu: No. But Mom, come see my room. Nobody else can see it until you see it.
Me: Okay, okay. I'm excited to see, just give me a minute to throw this in the oven. (translation: I just spent over two hours pouring out old, stale beer and disassembling centerpieces. Not really interested in your sock drawer right this minute).
I'm standing outside her door, and ZuZu makes me close my eyes. She tugs on my hands as we walk into her room, over her shaggy rug, and onto the other side of the room. This is far away from her sock drawer. What gives?
ZuZu: Okay, open your eyes!
Me: What the - ?!?