Saying good bye to canine friends never easy
People say that a dog is man’s best friend and they are correct, but sometimes a man, or woman, has second thoughts. There is pain in the statement. There is finality that must be considered.
About six years ago I had a great friend. His name was Bodey. He was a golden retriever. I’m not going to lie and boast that he was the best bird dog on the planet. He wasn’t. But he was a companion that rode shotgun next to me every day on the way to work.
When he was five, he started to do things he never had done before. Normally, he knew to go out to the end of our property and do his business. He knew that “his business” was not to be done in our family room. Nonetheless, he started to have problems with going to the bathroom when we weren’t home. No biggie, I thought, but it started to become the norm rather than a once- in-a-while mistake.
We took him to the vet and learned that he had cancer. Our entire family then took a step back, and knew that it wasn’t Bodey’s fault for messing the carpet. He simply couldn’t help it.
We had tests done. We spent thousands of dollars to get him “fixed,” but as anyone who has dealt with cancer knows, all we could do was postpone the inevitable.
I will always remember the ride to the clinic to have him put down. Ten miles. Five miles. The parking lot.
And then, the shot.
A few months later after swearing I would never own another dog, we found one. Lobbying from my wife and kids had sent us to a new breed: the flat-coat retriever. The breed is more or less like a golden retriever, but jet black in coat and maybe a bit smarter. The dogs are hunters for sure, but also service dogs for the blind, and lovers of all who would pet them. Stoic. Handsome.
I was sold.
We met Neko a few months after Bodey had passed. He was in an ad-hoc fence built by the breeder, rumbling around and looking for people to love him. He instantly bonded with us and despite me never wanting to own a dog again, I caved.
Neko set the bar high. He quickly learned the boundaries of our yard. He learned the spot to got potty. He was ready to find some pheasants, but didn’t get too because my dad had a Brittany spaniel that was a hunting ace.
He was just simply a dog that never left our side. Maybe he didn’t perfect the flush. Maybe he never won field trial awards. But he was Neko, and he was the best.
On New Year’s day our family was sitting around thinking of what to do for the day. Neko had just had his morning breakfast and then ran out to the weeds.
He layed on the carpet, he began to twitch, and then the seizure hit. All hands were on deck. Lisa and Blake comforted him. I called the emergency room and got instructions on how to help him. Compressions. Air. We did it all.
Blake pet him, telling him there were treats waiting for him. Lisa stroked him saying, “Neko, it’s okay, you’re a good boy.”
And then it was over. He was gone. And we all cried in disbelief that our buddy was no longer with us. It had to be a bad dream, but we are awake. It happened so fast, and ended so finitely.
The dog that anyone met and said was the most loveable, cheery, and best mannered dog they had ever met was gone.
As I write this column, tears fall onto the keyboard. I can still remember telling my Lisa that I don’t ever want a dog again, because of the pain it causes when they expire. That sentiment sits in my brain.
But I do sit back and think about the joy that Bodey and Neko provided us for their few years. I can still think of Blake sleeping at Neko’s side when he lobbied hard enough to sleep on the floor with his best buddy. Those memories were pure, and good, and sound.
People who own dogs know that they are part of the family and give a great amount of joy for their so limited years.
The key, I think, is to savor the good times, and gradually heal from the end-times.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. The death is tragic.
But a person must try to focus on the bliss, the companionship, and the love dogs bring to us. To accept that they will only be around for a short time.
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I am already looking for the next puppy. A person must try to cherish the time spent, and not the time in mourn, to be a dog owner.
The day Neko died, Blake told me that his dog was in heaven, with his Grandpa Clarence sneaking him treats.
If that is the case, Neko is happy, but we will all miss him.