We have lived with Spot for nearly 20 years, he is part of our family history. He came to live with us as part of a deal. When we moved from Toowoomba to Tabulam (in the far distant past) we sold all our 240 Volt appliances; one of the people we sold to had a litter of puppies (mongrel terrier crossed with Border collie) and offered to pay a good price for the TV if we took a pup…best trade we ever made.
Spot has been a loyal companion for those 20 years; chasing goanna, but never hurting them, sitting patiently by my side through various crafting adventures, staying in the car while we felled dead trees for fire wood, following at my heels as I walk through the bush. He became such a part of our lives that we thought he would always be there; a permanent fixture.
Last year he began to lose weight and sleep a lot, he also began to forget himself and pee in the house; the vet did an examination and found that he had prostate cancer and doggy dementia. He couldn’t be operated on because of his age and the dementia was untreatable, so we took him home and developed ways to deal with the issues. We never left him alone in the house if we could help it (sometimes this meant leaving someone out of a social event so he would be cared for (I never minded staying home). He was shut in a dog crate at night for the first time in his life because he would get lost at night and become very distressed (his crate was beside my bed so I could hear him if he needed me through the night). We cooked him meals of boiled chicken and rice and fed him 4 times a day when his kidneys and liver began to struggle (much to the disgust of the other dogs). Last week he went back to the vet for his 3 monthly ultrasound and she found that the tumour was now too big for him to be comfortable and that he had had a stroke at some point (which mercifully made it so he felt no pain). I made the hardest decision I have had to make in a long time and made an appointment for the vet to come to our house and end his suffering. Since then we have been keeping him happy and comfortable, just waiting for the inevitable end. Well, yesterday the vet came to give him a gentle passing.
We were all home, except my youngest daughter who doesn’t live here. I held him while the vet gave him an injection and he went quietly to sleep. I cried rivers and the vet had a tear in her eye too (probably in response to my tears). My daughter wrapped him in one of his wool blankets and I carried him out to the hole dug by my partner. We buried him and planted a fig tree over him.
He is buried next to his companion in life; Busy (one of our previous dogs). They were the best of friends in life and when Busy died a decade ago, at 17 years old, I promised to bury Spot with him when the time came.
He has left a huge hole in our lives, it seems he was always with us, always waiting for us to get home from work, always ready to go on an adventure with us. I will miss him more than I can say.
When I think about the relationship between old dogs and their humans I can’t help but think that the relationship lasts longer than some marriages; we spend more time with our dog than with our partner (or is that just me?) and I certainly talked to Spot more than I talk to my partner. There is a deep level of understanding built in that time; he always knew when I needed someone to sit close to me and listen and I always knew when he wanted to go on a walk or play in the yard. He knew what we were thinking a lot of the time too; I remember seeing him sneak off up the road for a little adventure on his own and frowning at him, which caused him to turn right around and come back to the house.
This is just a memorial post, for me more than anyone else, full of photos and memories, to remind me that we shared something very special and that is worth the pain losing him has caused; deep love and connection allow us to feel so much joy, and lead to so much pain when it ends.
It was worth the pain of losing you to know you old friend.