Today I received devastating news from one of my wives that she to had euthanize our oldest dog, Kenya. I haven’t felt the pain of losing a pet in over twenty years; it’s just as devastating at age 41 as it was at age 19. I had forgotten how excruciatingly painful the loss can be. Kenya was a magnificent, beautiful, 9-y/o, Bordeaux Mastiff and I loved her dearly.
Kenya’s veterinarian and family friend, had cared for Kenya and her siblings for years. She shared that Kenya likely suffered from liver cancer; and that her liver had failed, her abdomen was slowly filling with fluid, and that Kenya should be put to sleep to end her suffering.
About this time last year, the veterinarian had recommended Kenya alter her diet and take more walks. Kenya was the “Fat Baby” in the family, but she trimmed down 15-lbs during the summer. One of my favorite parts of the day was going on walks with Kenya. We’d talk about the neighborhood lawns, the traffic, the weather, other dogs, deer, and especially the horses at the stables down the street. Kenya was protective, yet polite, kind and loving. She loved playing in the sprinklers, rolling in the grass in her “special spot,” and found duty in protecting the family from neighborhood squirrels and birds… even the occasional rat. She was intelligent and loved to crawl into her swimming pool to beat the Texas heat. She also had sleep apnea, almost as bad as me; I recall several nights we’d both be told to roll over for snoring. She would always lay on my side of the bed when I was gone, and on top of me when I was home. I loved giving her baths outside and combing her coat. Kenya would greet us in the morning by launching her self onto the bed to give kisses or by laying spread-eagle in front of the shower to greet us as we got out of the shower. In the evenings, while enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, she would lay close enough to the table so I could rub my bare feet on her soft fat belly. She was a 130-lb lapdog, with an underbite only a parent could love, bad breath that no one could love, she loved to give kisses, and schlop foot-long strings slobber on whoever was fortunate enough to meet her acquaintance. She genuinely cared for members of the family and I have never seen her be unkind from the moment she came into my life. Kenya was the alpha and oldest of three four-legged babies in the house. Her absence will be felt for a long, long time.
I was unable to be with Kenya during her final moments. I’m so thankful for her companionship and the unconditional love she gave me. I wish I had hugged and loved on her more. I wish I could’ve explained why I had left, and could have told her I loved her one last time before she closed her beautiful eyes. It’s been said that “dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Although I agree with the saying fully, I don’t imagine I will want another pet, my heart just isn’t strong enough to bear the loss again. I have fond memories of dogs as a child and adult, so I’ll just save a little bit of heartache and simply cherish the memory of the dogs that touched my life with theirs.
What about you… Have you lost a pet that has left an indelible impression upon your heart? What are some of the ways you chose to heal the pain of that loss?