Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sleep well, dear heart.

In 1989 we got our first real family dog. We'd had two whippets that we'd had to give away, due to their fence-jumping, and a bitser stray that we'd adopted but had to return after he was a bit too aggressive for then baby-youngest-bro.

I remember my parents telling us that we would be getting a one year old poodle, and I remember being distinctly unimpressed that we would be getting a giant snob-dog. In reality he was a miniature toy poodle crossed with a shi tsu, a happy little ewok man who needed a new home because his brother wouldn't let him eat.

He was never very good with sit or stay, he would only play fetch when he felt like it (and would never bring the ball back), he snored and grunted in his sleep and he loved to chase the champagne cork because he knew it meant he'd be getting some blue cheese, caviar and marble chocolate.

He would let us dress him up, he would let us hold him up like a baby, he would humour us and sometimes go a little crazy, tearing up and down the backyard or around and around the loungeroom. We would nag him to sing for us, he ate all of my peas and he loved getting his hair brushed.

He was there when we had the chickens, he was there when we had the rabits and guinea pigs, he was there when we got Tom, he was there when Tom passed he was there when we got Max and he was there when Max passed too.

He befriended the kitten from next door, he visited my Pa and nearly got his bottom bitten by his nasty cranky dog, he came to the beach and would only let his toes get wet. He won the 'smart dog' games by being able to get the teatowel straight off his head (while Tom would sit patiently and wait for you to help him out), he would proudly strut out in front of us when we took him out for a walk, he loved to come for a drive in the car just to be with us and he loved the game where you'd tease him which chocolate then cover it with your body so he had to dig to get it. He had a waggy tail that sat and swung high like a flag, he had one white toe and a patch of white on his chest, a crusty red moustache from where he would lick and relick his nose and around his mouth. He only dug occasionally, usually under the house - he was only a pretend dog, really.

He'd been getting poorer for a while now (eg, the second last point here), and there were a few times in the last six months or so where mumsy and dadsy thought it would be time to say farewell. One morning in particular dadsy and yougest bro took the day off to have him put to sleep - he'd cried in pain, wouldn't lift his tail, wouldn't eat and wouldn't take water. They got him to the vet, understandably upset, only to find that he'd in fact soiled his tail to his butt and was backed up - a quick trim, a squirt of gastro, and he was as good as gold. His kidneys had failed so he was getting straight glucose every so often to perk him up. He was cancer ridden but in no state to go to surgery. He was blinded with cataracts, completely deaf and couldn't get a haircut because he wouldn't have handled the stress. His instinct was to snap at your hands when you offered him food (although he only two teeth left), he battled constantly to stay upright and he would often lean on whatever he could so that he could stay upright. He never made a noise unless the phone rang or the bird screeched, then he would cry and cry and cry.

This choice of when to cry made us think that he was not in any pain - if he were, he would have let us know.

He'd slept in youngest bro's room since he was no longer able to climb the stairs, a giant stuffed gorilla sitting over the gas heating vent. He had the computer or a radio set on for him all the time, and he'd often be hand fed when he wasn't feeling hungry. He had picked up the habit of dropping in to middle bro's room to toilet before returning back to youngest bro's room to carry on sleeping, however he'd more recently just kept it in youngest bro's room. We knew it was getting bad this week when he'd stay on the gorilla and soil himself, no plans of shifting.

Dadsy called this morning to tell me they were going to take him in - he'd let out a cry last night and had been at his worst all week. I got out of bed and into some jeans and headed over to the house to say my goodbye - it didn't seem real, so I accompanied mumsy and dadsy to the vet. They were in tears and he was quiet, wrapped in a towel and looking around. Dadsy checked in so that he wouldn't have to hang around in the waiting room, his least favourite place in the world. We were taken into a room to wait, then were given a few minutes before the vet returned to continue the selected procedure. Dadsy couldn't stay to watch and mumsy didn't want to leave him and I decided to stay as well.

They clipped back some hair on his leg, the knotted fur revealing dry grey skin and lots of dead cells. He found a vein he could use and that's when I broke down. He inserted the needle.

Elvis cried. He let out a call and he growled, his howl slowly growing quieter and then he was gone.

I tried to give him one last pat but he just wasn't our dog anymore. He was a shell. Gnarled, used and discarded.

I pulled it together for the rest of the day until I was almost home and this song came on. The song, the lyrics, the imagery and the sound of his last cry are just too much.

He calls me to the ocean
Takes me wandering through the street
A restless imagination
But for now, I move my feet on the ground
'Cause I feel like going home

I can float above the ceiling
I like drifting through the air
I tend to lose my concentration
But right now the clouds don't appeal to me
I feel like going home

Sometimes late at night
While runnin' from the rain
Running from the voices
Filling up my brain
Now I wish they'd leave me alone
And let me be
To go off on my own
Let me be to go home
I feel like going home

I miss you, Elvis.
Sleep well, dear heart.


D'Jen said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for you, Enny :(

I know it's not much consolation but he's in a much lovelier place now where he gets to live the way a little ewok dog should live, and he is very happy.


Enny said...

D'jen - thanks. I think it's his crying that makes it all the harder...

Trish said...

It sounds as though he didn't want to leave you all. Aren't dogs just the most beautiful things?

Amanda said...

Oh Enny, I'm so sorry. Dogs are lovely little creatures, and letting them go is so difficult and heartbreaking.

I'm thinking of you


Teej Mahal said...

So sorry hon.

Enny said...

trish - they are, and I would like to think that's what the crying was for...

amanda - thanks.

teej - thank you.

Anonymous said...

omg Im so sorry for your loss... but he is in a better place now, where he is fit and spry and no doubt chasing butterflies through lovely green pastures.

lots of hugs to you and yours oxoxxo


Enny said...

deb - thanks.

Desci said...

From reading it (or attempting to read it, getting too sad and going back a few days later... ahem) one can tell he was truly loved and lived an excellent life. One you and your whole family should be proud to have provided for him.

Enny said...

desci - I'm sorry to have made you sad. He did live a very happy and very full life - they may actually have some more dogs on Tuesday because they see how much love they have to give... not that it would replace him, more that they hope to give more dogs the same life.

I have a lovely photo of him framed on the coffee table from when he would come into my room and just lay in the sun,