In August of last year, Fritzy -- our 11 year old miniature Schnauzer -- was put "to sleep" because of kidney failure. We had done our best through the summer to keep him alive and the first week of August we let him go.
In October of 2005 I had put my heart dog, Wolfie, "to sleep." He was somewhere between 17 and 19 years old so I should have expected it -- but he had been healthy and hale everyday until the Saturday he suffered a massive bleed in his gut.
I agonized and second guessed myself about both decisions. Euthanization is hard, even when the dog is very sick. I sometimes wish that we could perform the same service for sick humans -- I know I'd choose it for myself rather than suffer an agonizingly slow death -- but then I think how very traumatic these decisions are to make. Anyway, both Wolfie's and Fritzy's deaths were quiet and peaceful. Hubby had away when Wolfie died and I had to make the decision and handle his passing alone. It never occurred to me not to stay with either dog; you are with them in life and you don't abandon them in death, even when your heart is breaking.
With Wolf I was bereft. Both Fritzy and I went into deep decline. I've written about this before -- but after Fritzy and I viewed the body (I had to go and get Fritzy and bring him back to the vet so he could understand what had happened to his pal) and had gone home to grieve, I heard Wolf's distinctive snuffle breathing all afternoon, until Hubby got back home to complete our family unit. When we all cried together -- that was when we knew Wolf was gone. With Fritzy, however, all three of us (Hubby, Gus, and me) were in the room with him. He lay quietly after the injection, the vet told us it would be a minute or so, and suddenly we all knew the exact moment his spirt had "left the room."
I was laying in bed this morning, canoodling with Luie, who came to us at Hubby's insistence, a week after Fritzy died, and remembering Fritzy. Luie is a character. Completely blind in one eye and able to see a little light and shape in the other, he is a whirlwind of motion. He runs and chases and investigates and talks. His "woo-woo" is a wonder to hear. He is always good humored -- and he seems to like playing jokes. He loves with great emotion -- but he can't stay still long enough to express it during daylight hours. Life is his playground.
Each dog has had their own personality -- Milly, our first, was the queen of everything she surveyed. Wolf was my lover -- as selfish as it sounds, my biggest heartbreak when he was gone was that no one or no thing would ever love me the way Wolf did -- heart and soul, he was mine. Fritzy was beautiful -- and persnickety. He wanted things done his way -- he knew where he wanted to sit and sleep and what he would eat, and he would go off alone if we defied him. Like me, his heart broke when his pal, Wolf, died. Gus, who came two weeks after Wolf's death, is serene. He is small and gentle and always calm. He does not complain. He likes to watch. He is the perfect dog, actually, for old folks. He loves to sleep most of the day and all night. He can hold his bladder for up to 18 hours with no complaint for he would never think of making of a mess. And then there's Luie.
Sometimes, I think the universe took Fritzy from us so quickly because there was Luie, in Tulsa, waiting. Sometimes, I think that Wolfie, seeing, from wherever he is, that my broken heart had to be healed somehow -- called Fritzy from us and imprinted Luie -- and voila! the rascal came to mend pieces of my heart together.
However, it happened, this morning, in bed, I was remembering Fritzy and lamenting once again my decision last August to end his life -- when I realized just how quickly and quietly his little spirit had left that room where the vet put him into his final sleep. I think he must have been ready to go, having been sick for so many months. And somehow, he must have known, that though he could NEVER be replaced, a little blind boy was waiting in the wings and desperately needed a home and an expensive eye doctor.
Fritzy was a wonderful dog, smart, loving, strong-willed, beautiful, and protective. Strangers were drawn to him because he was so pretty but they quickly knew not to touch. He was very vocal with strangers. He liked his alone time but he also wanted lots of cuddles and kisses every day -- and would demand them until they were delivered. He would paw and maneuver until he would get us to put aside the book or magazine or TV remote and focus directly on him. When he got sick, he never complained. Last July he lay in our bed, not wanting to eat or play or run outside -- but wanting to cuddle and be loved. He let me know in so many ways that he was ready for us to let go -- and then, when we did finally come to that fateful decision he was gone in an instant. His memory, unlike Wolf's, does not haunt me. That in itself is a lovely parting gift.
And then, with his going, came Luie. What a voyage of discovery we are all on! Wherever Fritz is I hope he knows how much I love and miss him -- and I hope with all my heart that somewhere he and Wolf are playing tug-0f-war with their favorite toy, Bite the Man. Meanwhile, I've got a wild child to take on an early morning romp.