Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Saying goodbye

The card came today.

Our veterinarian always sends a sympathy card. It really helped when we had to have Tucker put down (he was getting too violent with the neighbors). It brought tears and pain when we had Felicia and Jazmine put down. Today, it brought memories.

When Tucker died, I stayed and watched. Tucker had been abandoned in my brother-in-law's back yard along with six or seven other pups. In short order, we ripped him away from his siblings (all of whom died terrible, sensless deaths). I was damned if I was going to let him die alone. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

When we got the card for Jaz & Felicia I knew what it was. What I didn't know was that the vet had taken a picture of them and printed it on the card. It destroyed me. I thought I was handling our decision to have them euthanized pretty well but broke down when I saw the picture. My wife has hidden that card from me for now.

I saw the card in the mailbox at lunch. I was surprised it came so quick since we had only taken Baron in on Friday. I opened it, wondering if she had taken a picture. She had and it made me sad. I wasn't sad because I saw him again but because the picture showed just how sickly he looked. I was a bit pissed that she had even put a picture on the card since he looked so thin and weak.

When I got home later this evening, I opened and read the card. Inside was a small sticky-note. It said they had a paw print from Baron that we could come pick up any time. I cried again. I am crying now. I miss him.

These little touches are one of the reasons I like our vet so much. She has known Bear as long as we have and, as we were leaving, I could swear I saw a hint of emotion in her eyes. I think she will miss him as well.

I could not have asked for a better dog - first or owtherwise. It conforts me that we gave him 13 years he didn't have. Let me take you back 13 years...

It was a Thursday. I know this for two reasons. One, our local animal shelter stays open late on Thursdays and we had gone by after work. The second reason, I'll get to in a minute.

As we walked through the pens we were looking for a German Shepherd mix. After eye-balling a couple of animals the attendant told us to let her know if there were any we wanted to take out. She also told us that the red X on the card meant they were scheduled to be euthanized the next morning.

We came upon a monstrous mutt. He was flat-out ugly and in desperate need of a bath. The card on his pen said his name was Bear, he was good with kids and knew how to sit and shake hands. His arrival date was that day with a notation of "dropped off"... and there was a red X (that's reason #2).

Shelly wanted to have a look at him. I was hung up on his looks. "But he's so ugly" I kept saying. In the end, she pulled at my heart strings with, "We're his last chance." The attendant brought forth a leash.

Bear walked outside with us calmly. I took the leash first and ran and played with him a bit in the yard. Shelly took him next. Those of you that know my wife know that she does not walk very fast and is physically unable to run. When she took the leash, Bear started to take off again. "Uh uh," Shelly chided and he proceeded to match her pace and walk beside her... the decision was made.

Long live The Bear!!

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