Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. — Agnes Sligh Turnbull
Many of you have heard this, but I’m aware many have not. Two weeks ago this past Friday, Biscuit, the VBD, died. With Jif there, our vet administered an injection. Biscuit had developed a digestive problem that made him unable to digest food — any food at all — for over a week. Three good vets tried to diagnose and treat the problem, but they were unsuccessful. He spent the last week of his life, days at the vet, getting IV fluids, and nights at home with us.
On the night before we finally made the decision, LG took him outside to see if he’d play fetch. He did. He ran all over the yard, sniffing out, then returning, his toys. We were elated. For a moment, it looked as though he could recover. I ran in and called the vet, who had raised the possibility of euthanasia, to give her the good news, and tell her that it ain’t over yet.
As I watched longer, it became clear to me what I was seeing. Years ago, one of Jif’s cousins, a heavy smoker in his 40s, lay comatose and dying in a hospital bed. Even as he lay dying, he repeatedly, mechanically raised two fingers to his lips, then extended his arm outward; back to his lips, outward. Smoking was such a part of him, his body wasn’t going to stop going through the motions until it . . . stopped. I won’t say that Biscuit’s fetching was that mechanical — truly, it wasn’t, because I believe he did feel joy in the play, and I know LG and I felt joy, playing with him — but it was so much a part of him that he wouldn’t stop as long as there was breath in his body.
I called the vet back and told her, “I think he would play fetch until he fell over, into a coma.” She agreed. We tried force feeding for one more day, and then made the painful decision to help the VBD do what he had, on some level, already decided to do. On the evening he was to go to the vet for the last time, my back was “out” and I couldn’t walk upright. After LG and I kissed his snoot and told him how much we love him, Jif took him.
There’s another hole in my heart. I don’t equate dogs and humans. Truly, I don’t. But losing my Mom and my dog in the course of a year . . . the two losses are not as dissimilar as I might have predicted they’d be. Perhaps partly because I rarely saw my Mom; in many ways, with the insulin injections and the blindness, our lives revolved around Biscuit’s needs. There is not one speck of complaint in the previous sentence, btw. He more than deserved any TLC he got from us, and then some.
There is more to say. About how they tried to give my Protestant dog a Catholic sendoff, about how people can be so insensitive when commenting on the loss of a pet, and about how grateful I am for the love and support…I’ll save those for the next installment. This is enough for now.
I think most of the posts mentioning or showing Biscuit are categorized under his name, if you want to know more about him. (Thanks to Shawkey for the quote here.)