As some of you know, my beloved Fred spent nearly a week at the vet's before Thanksgiving. He was sent home because "although he's really sick, he won't eat, and he's a grouchy patient." I laughed. After three days of still not eating his medicated food here and vomiting up the meds I shoved half-way down his throat to make him swallow, I decided whether Fred lived or died, we could do it better than this, so the meds went in the cabinet and the regular dog food came out. For the next few weeks, all was great. Then I woke one morning to find puddles of food and water and a not so great looking Fred.
Knowing it was pointless to go back to the vet, I petted my dog and said, "Whatever it looks like, I'm in it with you."
For the next week, Fred's health went downhill in a hurry. On Wednesday night, the 17th, I took him for a walk in the rain, something we have loved since he was a puppy. He only walked to the end of the drive, but he wasn't able to make it back. I carried him.
The next day, he was weak.
About 0300 Friday morning I heard a nose, Fred couldn't walk. By 0400, he couldn't push himself up. His still bright eyes looked at me, and his tail wagged. I smiled and sat by him. "You are such a warrior. You have the fiercest heart I know."
But even warriors sometimes lose.
(Stick with me and put the Kleenex away. Fred is far from done with his adventure.)
I moved him to my bed, and we lay here a bit on his Coca Cola blanket, like we used to do when he could jump on the bed by himself (because at 70+ pounds, I was not picking him up and putting him up here). He just looked at me with his big brown eyes, and I look at him. Sometimes long looks say everything.
I had promised the kids I would take them to see the Hobbit that morning, and I kept my promise figuring Fred would be gone when we got home. When we left, I petted him and told him he was a great dog and I was thankful for our adventure but understood if he needed to go. Whatever he decided, I'd take care of him. (Yes, I'm the kind of nurturing "Marine" sort to even say that to my dog.)
When we got home, he was gone. I called the vet and made arrangements to have him cremated with drop off the next day.
(Seriously, put down your drinks now.)
I had committed to doing the food for the kids' sleep over at a friend's overnight Christmas party, and I had to finish baking, so I did and then took the kids to Lori’s, came home, and had to load the still 50+ pound dog into the back of the truck to take him to the vet’s for cremation.
I’m telling you. You would have hurt yourself laughing at me trying to move this dog. Good golly. The dog is a Lab, and when he stood on his hind legs, he was pretty much face to face with me, so I’ve got this 50+ pound emaciated small person who has died with his front legs sticking straight up over his head, and his back legs at a 90 degree angle to his body, AND because he died of liver disease, he has drainage coming from his mouth, so I’m trying to avoid his mouth area and that area of the blanket because it is wet. I can’t get him in a trashbag because he is too big, so I’m trying to get this absurd mass out my front door without him falling out of the blanket, which I do, but....
I think I am further off my front entry than I was, so I think I’m going to step down, and my heel caught the step. I didn’t fall. Could you imagine falling on that dog after he’d lain in the floor dead for half a day? He’d have exploded, and there is not enough perfume in Macy’s to make that better. But in the effort not to fall with this literal dead weight, I stepped to the side with my other foot and caught the edge of the sidewalk with the side of my foot. So now I have one ankle that hurts from the step and the fracture on my other foot screams loudly, and in the very quiet darkness of our neighborhood at around 10:00 pm, you could hear me scream, “Good Lord, Fred, could you make this any freaking harder?!”
I did get the dog in the truck and thankfully had the forethought to lower the tailgate prior to the moving of said dead dog. So I plop the blanket bundle on the tailgate and try to slide him into the truck. Can't. The rhino lining is textured to keep things from slipping...things like dead dogs wrapped in blankets. No problem. I'll just climb up on the tailgate, go around, and pull him in. No. He is foot to tail the length of the tailgate. I can't get around him. Finally, I reach over the dog, pull the blanket so Fred does a weird forward roll slide, and get him far enough in that I can close the tailgate without pinching him and possibly creating a smelly problem.
Next morning, I pick up the kids and head to the vet's. I was less than 15 minutes away when the nice state trooper decided he needed to introduce himself. I've never been pulled over before, so yet another new adventure to add in the list. Thankfully, it was pleasant, and I got off with a warning because I have no front license plate on my truck...because there is no place to put a license plate. So now I carry the license plate in my truck.
Finally, got to the vet's.
My vet’s office was hit with the flu that weekend, and there was only the receptionist, so I was helping her get Fred into the plastic bag, and for reasons I do not understand, his body was limp as a rag. I tried picking up the end of the blanket for her to slide the bag under and around, Fred slid out the other side. We tried rewrapping him in the blanket, and he would roll with it in a way that he rolled out. We finally got his body into the bag, but his neck was so limp it would catch on the lip of the bag. Then she nearly drop the whole thing laughing when I said, “Fred, I used to love you a lot, but that is seriously waning right now.” Finally we got him in the bag and got it tied. Then, dear Lord in heaven, we had to put him in the freezer. A pygmy goat might fit in that freezer. A Lab? We sort of rolled him in a weird Cirque de Fred position and closed the lid and held it down so he couldn’t spring open and knock the top up.
After that, I went home and went to bed to take a nap and fell asleep with a smile on my face thankful for the adventure that was Fred.