(I honestly don't feel like I can write a concise post about this so please forgive me.)
On Monday we had to have our 11 1/2 year old English bulldog, George, put to sleep.
His health took a pretty quick decline the past couple of months. He wasn't getting around well anymore. We had to help him onto and off the couch and in and out the back door. He couldn't get up the steps to Mom and Dad's bedroom where he slept and he was too big to carry up and down every night. We had to give him pain pills almost every day to help with the joint pain. (Though he enjoyed getting them because he got a whole piece of peanut buttered bread along with the pill.) His legs would slide out on him when he'd walk and we later found out he had neurological damage to his left side which could have been caused by a stroke or brain tumor.
Monday afternoon he had a seizure. Jeanie called up to me in a panic and I knew something was very wrong. He was unresponsive for about a half hour afterwards. Then he fell off the couch and I had to put his dazed self back on it. He was just laying there shaking and breathing heavy like he did when something was hurting him. We called Mom and Dad to come home and took him to the vet afterward. He looked so normal sitting in the car that I didn't want us to take him to the vet because I knew what was going to happen. It was horrible to know that was the last time he'd ever be home. We just scooped him off the couch and took him to his death.
I kept thinking that he knew what was going on. His back legs were shaking when he was laying down. Maybe he was just cold on that tile floor. I worried, and still do, that he was scared. It just felt so wrong to determine his fate like that with him in the room. Maybe he was ready though. That's the problem with dogs. They can't talk to you and tell you how they feel. I'll never know if he was so peaceful because they drugged him up or because he was okay with everything. How do you save someone from the most inevitable part of life?
The decision was so hard I can't even put it into words. We knew he was at the end of his life and that any tests or procedures done to him probably would not make him better. It still felt wrong to me. My brain said it was the logical thing to do, but it didn't make it any easier. Poor George hobbled around in the exam room until he just laid down, breathing heavily. The vet thought he couldn't see anymore. He could barely walk. He was hurting but too tough to just give up doing what he wanted to do. It was clear his health wasn't improving. We'd been waiting for the inevitable for months. Now the whole family was together, able to be there for him.
I've never seen my family upset like that before. It's not something I like to remember. I don't want to remember George hurting at the end either. Though through everything his sweet personality was still the same.
George was a true member of our family and his loss has left a massive hole. The pain of letting him go is like nothing I've ever felt and is something I never want to feel again. He was so loved and truly irreplaceable.
Everywhere I look in my house reminds me of him. Yesterday I kept looking over to his water bowl to check if he needed fresh water. It's going to take a while to get past this anguish. If I stop actively paying attention to something or conversing with somebody my thoughts wander to George and what we all went through on Monday. I hope with time the agony of that day will fade and the 11 wonderful years will be remembered.
Now I worry that I'll forget the little things about him that I love so much. I worry I'll forget the intricacies of his personality and how soft the top of his head was. I'm scared I'll forget the sound of his snorty breathing, the prance-like change in his gait like he was proud of himself when we told him he looked handsome or when he finished going outside, how he moved his eyebrows just like a person. I'll forget how sometimes he would whine if we were talking to each other and not to him or how he loved to lay in the sun out back. I'm scared I'll forget the tricks he knew, how he played with us, and how it felt to wrap my arms around him.
Not only do I worry about forgetting, but I feel his absence everywhere. I miss him pushing the step stool up to the kitchen table and standing on it to beg for food. I missed him when he wasn't there to lick the last couple drops of beer from the bottle. I missed reaching my right hand over to pat him on the butt when I was on my spot on the couch. I missed giving him his treats and refilling his water bowl because he loved fresh water the best. I missed seeing my parents light up when they greeted him after work. I missed the sound of his ringing the bells on the door to go outside. I could have sworn I heard him snorting around downstairs when I was getting dressed this morning.
Everyone who met George loved him. He was the sweetest dog you'd ever know. He was gentle, hilarious, and so full of love. He always wanted to be in the company of people. He was incredibly well-behaved - he never tried to run away and was great with other dogs and all people. His eyes lit up when you talked to him and his little comma-shaped tail would wag. He was a super handsome bulldog too. There are too many good things to say about George. Most of all he really really loved us and we loved him just as much.
I knew this day would come and I was dreading it. I knew I'd be a mess for who knows how long afterward. Sometimes I have to catch my breath it hurts so badly. He was the first and only dog my family has ever had. I will always love my George. I just can't believe he's gone forever. No dog will ever be like him or fill the void he's left. It's just hard to deal with. So I'm sorry if I'm a little absent here for a while. I just don't feel like doing much of anything right now. I guess it's taking up a lot of energy trying to hold myself together and perform like a normal human being in public.
I'm thankful he was my good boy for 11 years, which is long for a bulldog, but I miss him. He was my best friend. It's crappy that dogs get to spend their whole lives with us but we have to live without them one day. Leaving the vet without him was the worst feeling. It felt like my family wasn't complete anymore. It's not going to be easy to live without Mr. George, my good boy, Georgiekins, baby, smooshy face, softy wrinkle head, bestest friend.
As Dad once said, "George, I do believe you are magnificent." He really was.