Just a few minutes ago, I hung up the phone with M. He's at the emergency vet with our dog, Jack, and we had to make the decision to put him to sleep. It really wasn't a tough decision, for which I am grateful. He apparently was practically in a diabetic coma (we didn't know he had diabetes and he has had regular vet care - not blaming our vet, just working my way through the "how could we have not known guilties") and had internal bleeding (no idea how that happened, either). He was pretty much dead by the time M got him to the vet. He had stopped breathing with me here at home and was pretty unresponsive. I tearfully said good-bye to him in our driveway and wished that I could go, too, just so M didn't have to do this alone. But with our babies sleeping upstairs, I went back inside and waited for the call.
His vitals were very poor and getting worse. Basically, if we didn't intervene, he would have died on his own. Our choices were: 3 - 4 days in intensive care and $8,000 - $12,000 in medical bills and no guarantees as to the outcome or to end his suffering. It wasn't really an option. And when M got home, he sadly told me that he was still signing the paperwork to have him put to sleep, when he actually passed away on his own. We are both sad that he was with strangers when he died.
We had a few scares with Jack along the way. He had pancreatitis twice. He had back problems that made him so sick that I thought he was a goner for sure. One time, he had a seizure in response to a medication for those problems, and I thought he had died. He was fine by the time we got him to the vet, which is less than five minutes from our house.
But things had been pretty calm for the last couple of years. I would teasingly say that he was going to live 'til 25. Tonight, he proved me wrong.
I have a lot of mixed feelings right now. Obviously, number one, I am sad. I also feel guilty. I haven't been the greatest pet owner for quite some time now. I am often overwhelmed between two dogs, one cat, and two kids under three. Jack was a lot of good things, but he was not an easy dog. When we picked him out at the humane society 11 years ago, the guy at the front desk told me that I didn't want him and that he was TROUBLE. I didn't listen.
We had him home for two days and he seemed like the Perfect Dog. Then, we left him alone to go to breakfast one morning. We returned home to find the apartment trashed. Seriously, it looked like a hurricane had come through. Our Perfect Dog was prancing around by our feet, eager to see us. We laughed, cleaned up the mess, and hoped it was a one-off. Nope. It was only the beginning.
Jack had separation anxiety. Dog trainers, obedience classes, and finally, a prescription for Clomicalm made it manageable, but it was still a daily challenge. When left alone, he would urinate and defecate on the carpet. Crating him wasn't really an option because he would go insane if caged. He could get out of any normal crate, so we had to get creative to contain him. While we could figure out a way to keep him in (by wrapping a thick chain around the bars of the crate), he would try to get out anyway and scrape his nose until it was swollen to twice its size, bleeding and raw.
We didn't have the heart to see that happen, so he had to stay in our garage while we were away. Despite weekly clean outs with bleach, soap, and water, I felt as if our garage always had a "doggy" odor from all of Jack's activities. It was frustrating to have guests over because he would bark the. entire. time he was in the garage. Recently, he had started having accidents in the house even when I was there and he'd just been out.
He was my first "baby." He was our first major purchase together and a symbol of our early relationship. He was fiercely loyal. Most of his problems were because he just wanted to be with us. He had been abused before he came to us and it took him along time to really trust us. M was the only man he wasn't afraid of.
He caught many, many tears in his fur during our infertile and miscarriage years. He was my constant companion. He would lay on the rug in the bathroom while I took a bath. He never would go up to bed without me. No matter if I had just yelled at him for one of his many not-so-savory bad habits, he was always happy to see me and eager for a pat.
He was enchanted with Will when he was born and fiercely protective of him. Even now, when Will would wake from a nap and start calling for me, Jack led the way up to his room. If strangers came to the house, he would bark and was actually pretty intimidating, though he was a small dog.
I could go on and on about both his misadventures and the good times we shared. But there aren't really enough words to fully explain everything and how I feel. All I know is that the house is too quiet today and my world is minus one doggy heart that was filled with love. And my own heart is a bit broken.