My heart had been heavy, for quite a few weeks, my mind laboring intensely about what was the “kind” thing, the “right” thing to do. I’d read so many articles about euthanasia, understanding not only what it was, but when it was appropriate, and, like most things, everyone has an opinion. Actually, I had probably already made the decision as I watched the decline of my good friend, Hobbs; however, I wanted validation about my decision. Eventually, I ran across a short article by a vet that said she has simple criteria: Think of 3 things that your dog really loves to do, and when he is no longer interested in 2 of those, it may be time to consider euthanasia.
Hobbs’s 3 things, in order were:
1. Eating – This dog would eat all day if you let him. He LOVED to eat.
2. Walking – In his better sighted days, if he saw me grab the leash, it was time for the Hobbs happy dance, spin move, of course, accompanied with much barking!
3. Chasing – He loved to chase anything that moved fast, or heck, that moved for that matter. His specialty was squirrels and rabbits – His overall record, though, was an unblemished 0-1000, or whatever. He never caught one, but then it was always about the chase for him.
As many of you know, I found out in October of 2011 that Hobbs was diabetic. After a bit, we finally got his diabetes under control, somewhat. It was always a struggle, as his body seemed resistant and his numbers were consistently high. Eventually, the first thing to go was the chase. We’d see a rabbit on our walks and he’d make a perfunctory move towards the rabbit, or squirrel, but it was more reflex.
Next to go, or decline sharply, was walking. We used to walk 5 miles / morning. Eventually Hobbs would walk every other day with me, then every 3 or 4 days, eventually once a week. He was down to about 2 miles, but still happy to go. Around December of 2012, he was down to 2 blocks. Yesterday, when I gave him his final walk, it was all that he could do to make it a 1/2 of a block.
Finally, eating. When I would make a move towards the kitchen, Hobbs was always on my heels. Always. Until about a month ago, that was the case. Then, though he still had an appetite, he was less interested in following me. About two weeks ago, he lost all of his appetite, only smelling the food and walking away, preferring his water bowl instead. The doctor prescribed eating stimulants, which worked to a point, but ceased to function about 3 days ago. He just wasn’t interested in eating. He was eating about 4 cups of food per day (his chicken, brown rice, broccoli that I made for him). In the last 3 days, he probably ate about 2 or 3 cups, in total.
I decided that he’d had enough, that I would not subject him to further tests, additional medicines, poking or prodding. On Thursday morning, I called Lap of Love, a veterinary hospice, and scheduled an appointment for Hobbs for 4:00 PM on Friday. During all of Friday, I doted on him until he got tired of my petting and went over the corner to be by himself. He’s never been a lapdog. It was a beautiful day, mid-60s, sunny, a little breezy.
I took him for his 1/2 block walk, spent about 20 minutes in the back yard with him, then went to buy him some lunch. Lunch was 12 Chick-Fil-A nuggets, which he ate immediately. It was not with his usual watch-your-fingers-gusto, but he seemed to enjoy them, then he went right back to sleep.
As he had been a part of Vera’s life, too, I called her to let her know about it. She rearranged some of her meetings to make sure that she could be with me to support me and to help send him off. The procedure was quick, painless, and quite peaceful. I cried. I missed him terribly, but knew that I had done the right thing.
Afterwards, I went to my friend James’s house and we had a party to celebrate Hobbs’s life. James used to watch him for me when I’d go on various trips. We both knew that had Hobbs been there, he would have been looking at each of us, waiting for “the hook up”, in other words, something from our plate. We laughed a lot about his antics. It was a nice release.
This morning, I awoke about 4:00 AM, the time that Hobbs would awaken me for one of his bathroom breaks. He’d come into the room, shake, making noise with the ‘bling’ on his collar, then walk out of the room towards the back door. My job, of course, was to follow, open the door, wait for his return, open the door again, close it, then go back to bed until needed again. I was well trained!
For sure, I’ll miss my friend. There’ll never be another like him. For now, I won’t have another dog. I’ve decided to wait at least a year and see how I feel about it. It was great being able to spend 13 years with such a special guy!!!