Six months into our marriage, I had finished school, but didn’t have a job yet. I was bored and lonely, so I
demanded requested that Ryan either get me pregnant or get me a dog. Clearly not ready for a human baby, we began the search for a canine companion. After an unsuccessful visit to a PetSmart adoption event, we ended up at Pets ‘n Pals, a local no-kill shelter. We chose a 6-week old puppy whom the shelter believed was a lab/Australian Shepherd mix. He whined the entire ride home (and every car ride after that – including a three-day trek to Illinois), and from then on, he was known as Toby Whinypants (and we now believe he’s more likely a lab/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix).
He’s the biggest lap dog I’ve ever known (topping out somewhere around 100lbs). He has been my constant companion and loyal guardian. He’s as naughty as he is loving. He’s an expert dumpster-diver and always wants to be in the middle of the action. He has a heart of gold, impossibly soft ears, and a dopey smile that brightens up even the darkest days.
And tomorrow, after twelve years, we will say goodbye to our faithful buddy.
This decision hasn’t come easily… I’ve been gripped with guilt and confusion for several weeks as I wrestled with our options. It’s so surreal to think of walking him into the vet’s office only to walk out without him. But really, his walk has turned into a loud, labored hobble as an old ACL injury and severe arthritis have taken their toll. We have to pump his body full of medication on a daily basis (glucosamine, Novox, and 56 units of insulin which he so bravely allows me to administer). He sleeps more and bosses the neighbor dogs around less. His beautiful amber eyes are clouded over with cataracts. And his sleek black snout and eyebrows are fully blanketed in silver. Despite his ever-wagging alligator tail and his huge grin, I know he is suffering. And I owe it to him to help him leave this world with a little bit of dignity still intact.
Rest in peace, Big Dog. May you have unlimited counters to surf and the fluffiest bed to snore on, somewhere over the rainbow.