....is getting a pet. Because someday you know that you'll have to stare back at them as the vet gives them a shot that takes the life from those eyes staring back at you. This is what I had to do on Monday. I had to fulfill my volunteer obligation that I signed up for almost 14 years ago and put 1 of my 2 dogs to sleep. Because that's basically what you do, is volunteer to go through this when you get a pet. You know that at some point in your life, you will have to do this. Hopefully sooner than later which was my case. But still, it is absolutley the worst thing you have to put yourself through. It brought a 37-year-old man right down to his knees. Here's the story....
A few months ago my black lab, Cole, started having breathing problems. He would all of a sudden have these spells of very labored, shallow breaths. But they would only last for about 5-10 seconds and they would go away. This would happen maybe 2-3 times a day and then he would be back to normal. My wife and I would notice it happen and just pass it off as old age. But as time went on, these spells became more and more frequent. So we took him in and had him checked out. But they could find nothing seriously wrong with him. So home we went and back to normal we were. Or so we thought.
Last Saturday afternoon is when things started taking a serious turn for the worse. He started one of his spells and this time, it didn't stop. The shallow breathing continued hour after hour. He was still able to get up and get to his food and water. He was still able to get outside and do his business, so we were hopeful that his breathing would get back to normal. And as we went to bed that night, he still wasn't back to normal. We listened to him do that all night long. There were times when he was able to get to sleep but the breathing continued. And when we woke up Sunday morning, he was still in the same spot as he was when we left him. And the breathing was still bad.
Now, it's Sunday, and his vet clinic is not open. And unless we take him to an emergency clinic and pay out the butt, we can't do anything for him. So, I start looking for somehow to get a hold of his doctor. After a short period of looking, I managed to find his home number. He agreed that something serious was going on and he told me to meet him at the clinic in 30 minutes. So we get there and he hooks him up to a bunch of machines and run a bunch of tests. He discovers that his heart is not beating properly and this is what's causing his breathing issues. His heart would have a bunch of good beats, and then go though a bunch of bad beats. And it was during these bad beats that his bloodflow was not happening right and causing severe weakness. Which would explain why he didn't move the night before. So the doc put him on 3 different pills and told me to call his cell# in the morning.
So, Monday rolls around and we manage to get a 2nd dose of pills in him. I go to work with thoughts in the back of my head that something is going to happen. At about 9AM, my wife e-mails me that he still hasn't moved and she is now having to carry him to get outside. He is not eating or drinking anything and he doesn't appear to want to even lift his head. So I start texting the vet about eveything that is happening and that he appears to be worse than when he saw him the previous day. So he tells me to bring him in and they can run some more tests. So I take a 1/2 day off work and bring him in. They hook him back up to the heart monitor and now all of his heartbeats are bad, so bloodflow is not happening at all like it should. He is severly weak, dehydrated, and can't breath. That's when I made the very painful decision to put him down.
They set up a room and give him a sedative to calm him down. I lay him down on his blanket from home and they step out of the room to give me a few minutes to say goodbye. I sit down on the floor next to him and the tears start to flow. I bend down, lift his head, kiss him on the nose, and tell him that I'm sorry. I tell him that he's been a great dog for us and we will miss him everyday. He looks up at me like he knew what was going on and gave me 1 last lick on the face. I motioned for the vet to come back in and about 45 seconds later, my Cole was gone.
It's not very often that I can say that I was brought to my knees knowing that there was nothing I could do. But on that day, I was. Staring back at that sweet face knowing that I was about to give somebody permission to take the life from his body is a feeling that I wish on nobody. It is devastating.
But I will always remember taking him pheasent hunting and that instead of bringing back the bird, he would try to tear into it right there on the spot. I will always remember that whenever I lay down on the floor, he would always come over and cover my face in kisses. I will always remember when he had a milkbone he would try to bury it in the couch. I will always remember that everytime the doorbell rings, he would bark so loud that he would scare away the UPS man. These are the type of things that I am hanging on to. These are the things that have kept me going the last few days. These are the things that I will never forget.