Saturday, May 8, 2010

Everything sucks

I thought about not writing about this here, because it's just so depressing. But I have to. (How's that for a winning lede?)

Wednesday morning last week, I went to wake the dogs up and let them out, and right away knew something was wrong. Rio (of turd fairy fame) had moved a few steps from the bed the three dogs share, and was lying on the floor on his side, whimpering quietly. His front legs were quivering. When I moved to the door and called the dogs, as I do every morning, he pushed up on his front legs into a sit and looked at me.

"Rio, come on buddy," I said. He tried to push forward, but that was it. His eyes were wide. He tried to shove forward, but his bum stayed put.

Now, I've lived with Rio for a year. He's a little bit of a drama queen. A hurty paw, a tiny sliver in the pad, could leave him three-legged. A subtle breeze could elicit a squealing plead for mercy.

But this was no drama queen moment. He was paralyzed from mid-waist down.

Over the next couple of days, the vet tried a few of the less expensive diagnostic and treatment options, but the prognosis wasn't good. There was little hope for recovery. He was going to be paralyzed. He was going to be incontinent. And his personality wasn't going to change; he would still be an anxious little guy. The kind of dog who, at the slightest bit of stress, would lick his paws raw.

And now, as he wizzed all over the pee-pee pads we'd tucked underneath him, with medication and stress-induced diarrhea all over himself and his bedding, it bothered him. He fretted. He tried reaching his back side, tried licking himself clean. He buried his head in his paws when we were cleaning him.

You see where this is going. We decided to put him down. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever been a part of -- and I won't even begin to imagine or explain what it was like for R.

As I've gotten to know dogs over the last few years, I've realized the degree to which dogs have soul -- and I don't mean they have something crafted by God that other animals don't have. I mean they have the kind of soul James Brown talks about. Dogs totally look at you and see you, (all Avatar-style) whereas cats look at you and you might as well be a lamp. Perhaps your cat looks at you and sees a lamp that gives good belly rubs or a lamp that puts food in his bowl, but you're still a lamp.

The last morning we had Rio, we took him to McDonalds and bought him an egg McMuffin. We took him to the park and pet his velvet toffee ears. And we stayed with him until the end. If you've never put an animal down, you can probably imagine what it's like, and how much it sucks. I thought I could imagine how awful it would be before I had to go through it on Friday. But here's the thing: It's so much worse.

The day we put him down, I went to the going-away party of one of my best friends, who's moving to Utah (Ugh). The next morning, R left for most of the next month for work. Oh and the tire store called and won't put my summer tires on because they're bald and 'we have a nice tire we can put you in for $6,000 and why don't you also bend over for us lady.'

I think I'm going to write a country song. I'll start with something about how I haven't been sleeping right. How at first, I can't get to sleep, then, in the morning, I want to stay in bed all day. I'll also write about filling up two bowls with breakfast instead of three, and about Margaux pacing the back yard with too much energy, looking for someone who wants to play.

And now, with apologies, here are some pictures of Rio. He was even cuter in person.


  1. I am sooo sorry. I know how horrible it is to have a pet die - the exact thing happened to me in August with my dog Tundra.
    Guh - now I'm crying all over again!

  2. Sorry! I know, it's just awful. Dogs are the best.

  3. I am so, so sorry. I have been through this, and it sucks.

  4. Rio was a sweet boy. I'm so sorry you had to go through this - definitely one of the toughest things I've ever done. And no matter how obvious it is that you made the right choice, it never makes it any easier.

  5. a) Those are great pictures.

    b) Even as a former cat person who now also loves dogs but isn't home enough to have pets, I understand what you mean about the differences between cats and dogs. That's why you can leave cats alone at home for two weeks but can't leave your dog alone for two hours–dogs are much more "human".

    c) It's so awesome that you gave him an Egg McMuffin. McDonald's should use this as a marketing ploy.

    d) This sucks.

  6. I'm so sorry. It really is just the most awful thing to have to do. And also, I read recently that dogs are one of few creatures that actually laugh. They definitely have souls.

  7. What a sad, beautiful tribute to your sweet doggie. Did you stay with him until he passed? Years ago we had to put down a beloved pet friend. The vet said we should leave, I refused. I understood why he said that, but I couldn't let my friend go alone. I didn't want him to be afraid.


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