Today is my first day without my sweet dog Dallas. He hasn't always been in my life, of course, but since I adopted him over twelve years ago, he's been a constant and reliable presence. I've had good moments and bad in the last twenty four hours. Moments where I am weeping for what I have lost, but also smiling and laughing when I think of those times I never want to forget.
I have had several dogs, all precious to me, but Dal is one of two that stand out as truly great, great dogs that I have been lucky enough to call my own. But today, this post is all about him... and me, and how blessed I have been to have known and loved him...
For the past few months, his mobility has declined. Nonetheless, he graciously allowed me to help him move about -- something the independent and healthy Dallas would have struggled with. We all have life's lessons to learn and I know that this was his. His lesson is also mine, for as much as I am always there for others as a shoulder to lean on, I am this strong, stalwart rock of a person who struggles with allowing others help when I truly need them the most.
Anyhow, over the past few months, medication has helped Dallas to a degree, but it became apparent this week that he no longer could get up on his own. A decision had to be made...not easy, as anyone who has been there knows.
A phone call was made last Monday, but the appointment was set for today, actually. I needed time to work through it, and I also sensed that perhaps he would try to pass on his own. He did try...a few times, I thought he was at that point. He just couldn't quite seem to get there, and he was struggling with pain. So, on Wednesday, I called the vet's office and moved the date to Friday.
Then, not wanting Dallas to see me cry, I went outside and saw Dave (who is doing some work on my house at the moment) and told him the news. Although I haven't known him too long, he has watched my morning routine with Dallas as he has arrived for work over the past month: I would slide Dallas outside on his dog bed, help him up to relieve himself, then gently help him back down to the bed. Then, (since he could no longer enjoy a walk) he would have fun watching the kittens as I sipped my morning coffee.
Dave said, in such a kind way, that Dallas had been hanging on for me. Until then, I wasn't quite ready to let him go. Once I made the decision, it was as if he knew, and he began to go downhill. I knew in my heart of hearts that Dave was right.
To tell the rest of this story, I need to digress a bit and recount when Dallas first came to live with me. My yellow lab, Muldoone (the other dog I mentioned earlier), had died a few months before. Eventually, I found Dallas and was certain he was going to be my next dog. However, once Dal arrived, the wound from losing Muldoone opened up again, tears flowed, and I wasn't sure I made a good choice. I actually contemplated returning Dallas.
As I laid on my couch, sobbing, Dallas gently crept up next to me and licked my tears away! I knew right then that he was a "keeper".
Yesterday, in the wee hours of Friday morning, I woke up because I heard Dallas wimpering for me. I had been sleeping on the floor next to him all night, so I gathered him in my arms (he's not a small dog) and kissed and cuddled him, as he seemed to want me to do. I looked deeply into his eyes and knew he couldn't fight any more, or continue to hang on for me. I told him it was OK to go...
Then, those tears that I had been fiercely keeping in all week and didn't want him (or anyone else) to see, opened like floodgates, and I just sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed. Once again, even though this time, he was in his last hours of life and his last hours with me, he licked away my tears -- and, I let him...