This post is likely going to ramble. Be forewarned that I’m writing this for myself. If you, the reader, are seeking entertainment this isn’t the post for you. As the young ones say this post is full of “the feels”
Friday evening my dog died.
It was sudden, unexpected and heart breaking. Only an hour previous he was wagging his tail as he watched me preparing my dinner for the night. He was his usual happy go lucky self and there were no signs of the impending tragedy. After I let him out to do his business he came back in and looked to be hurt. It didn’t seem to significant though. I looked at his paws and legs and saw no obvious signs of injury so I had assumed it was just a sprain from running around in the backyard.
During the next hour he became more and more lethargic and his breathing became laboured. I still didn’t know what was going on. He looked at me with his beautiful big brown eyes and seemed to be asking me for consolation. So I did. I pet him and held him for a bit, letting him know it’ll be ok.
But it wasn’t.
He got worse. He walked to the bedroom and slumped to the end of the bed instead of jumping up on it. I still assumed he had a sprain so I picked him up and placed him on the bed. Duke isn’t, or I suppose I need to say “wasn’t” a small boy either. He’s around 60lbs. A Blue Heeler crossed with a German Shepard as far as we knew. What I noticed then that began to worry me is his lack of fighting back. He’s not a fan of being picked up and unlike most times picking him up and placing him on the bed was not very hard at all.
I feel like I should have known but I suppose there was no way of knowing really.
I went about cleaning up after myself in the kitchen and left him there to feel better. But he didn’t get better. He got worse. From the kitchen I heard his cry muffled by distance and the walls of my house. It haunts me now. It was a cry not of pain, or anger, or the normal typical dog cries you hear. It was a cry of unadulterated fear. Fuck does it haunt me now.
I scrambled from the kitchen to the bedroom to hear him crying again. He looked at me from the bed and in his eyes there was panic. He was trying to roll over but couldn’t. I helped him roll but he still wasn’t comfortable. I was getting incredibly worried at this point. This is the same pup that a day after surgery for being neutered he was sprinting through the field with stitches in him. He was as tough as they come. The only thing he feared was the crawl space and my disappointed voice. Hearing his cry, that cry of fear and anxiousness is heartbreaking.
I held on to him and reassured him, ” it’s ok bud. I’m here. It’ll be ok. I’ve got you.” I hugged him and he calmed down but his breathing was very strange. Not gasping but, sort of huffing, like it was taking a lot of energy to exhale. This isn’t right. Something is wrong. He’s not just in pain. I’ve got to take him to the emergency vet. I left the room to get ready and he cried that awful scared cry again. “Don’t worry bud I’m coming right back.” I pulled my jacket on and my boots and rushed back to the bedroom.
He looks at me and I can tell what’s in his eyes. Is it pain? Is it fear? Is it resignation. I cup his head in my hands and kiss his forehead. “Come on bud lets get you looked at.” He huffs once more and I pick him up. There is no fight in him at all. He’s limp in my arms and as I carry him out to the car I become aware that I can’t hear him breathing. I can’t move fast enough. I’m in the car in no time and lie him down in the back seat. “Come on bud. Stay with me!” He opened his eyes once more and I kiss him again. “It’ll be ok. I’m right here”. His eyes roll back and all I can do is hope he’s just passing out and nothing more.
The drive to the vet was agony. He’s in the back seat by himself and I’m reaching back the entire time rubbing his stomach as I drive. Talking to him. “It’ll be ok. It’ll be ok. Just a little further bud. We’re almost there.”
When I reach the vets I race to the back and retrieve my best bud Duke from the back seat. He’s completely limp now and I can’t tell if I can hear a heartbeat or not. I think I do, but that turned out to be my own heart pounding in my ears. I carried him to the door and the vets take him away. A short while after I hear the same crying I heard in my bedroom. This time it reassures me. If he’s crying he’s still alive. He’s going to be ok. He’s going to pull through. He’s going to….
The vet comes in at tells me, “I’m sorry but Duke has already passed. He was dead when he arrived. We tried, but he didn’t respond. I’m so very sorry.”
What a punch to the heart. He wasn’t supposed to be gone. He was supposed to be around for another decade at least. My god. What happened?
The vet does some investigation and tells me he had fluid around his heart. That my big tough cattle dog likely had a tumour or cyst near his heart and it split open flooding his chest with fluid. When he was crying at home it was because he was scared. He was dying and I was too stupid to know. I just lied the and said it was going to be alright while my friend was dying in front of me. That hurts so much.
There is so much guilt that wells up when you lose someone, but probably more so when it’s your pet. I was flushed with guilt for every time I had to discipline him. Every time I denied him a treat or snacking on my food. Every time I was too tired to give him a walk or the time I spent at work while he was home without me. The guilt and pain from that is just eating me up. I come home now and no one is there to great me. I go to be and no one curls up at my feet. I miss hugging his big furry body. I miss holding him. Playing with him. Talking to him. He was a true friend. He looked after me when I was sick. If I was emotional from a movie or show he’d cozy up beside me and look into my eyes. His way of telling me it’ll be ok. God damn it I miss him.
Duke was a great friend. Not the type that you go and share a beer with, but the strong silent type that never judges and always loves. I’m going to miss him terribly and as I weep and write this all I can do is hope that he knew I loved him.
Goodbye my friend.