I’ve written before in this space about the loss of our dogs over the years. There are now four dog graves in our backyard and there will soon be another. And it may be the last one.
We were down to one dog, dear old Katie, with her face turned white with age. We knew she did not have too much more time with us. We figured something would develop sooner or later and we would lose her, a red spaniel mix who probably had a little chow in her.
But we never expected the end to come so soon, and so suddenly. Katie had shown signs of arthritis recently, having a little trouble with her back legs. But she seemed otherwise fine. When we let her out in the backyard to do her business, she would often romp and play as if she were a puppy. Then when she saw the backdoor open, she would dash inside as fast as she could. (One time she came in so fast that she hit my legs and almost knocked me over the couch!)
But, Monday morning Mary noticed blood on the floor. And after Katie laid down for a few minutes in the bedroom, she left a blood smear on the floor when she got up. I lifted her tail and sure enough, her bottom was pretty much covered with blood.
We drove her over to our vet, Doctor Joey Bynog, who examined her and told us the news. She had a large bleeding tumor in her rectum, which would block her bodily functions. She had no chance. So, after giving Mary and me a little time to spend with Katie, alone in the examining room, she was brought to her painless end. The genuine compassion and sympathy shown by Doc Joey made the process a little easier. He is a man well suited to his profession. He loves animals and he’s pretty fond of people, too.
There is a funny story about how we got Katie in the first place. About 15 or 16 years ago, we were visiting my sister in the country north of Baton Rouge and she told us this little red puppy had come up out of nowhere and was living in her garage. “Does anyone want a dog?” my sister asked.
My answer was a prompt “No” but Mary said “Yes.” We already had a dog, a wonderful pointer mix named Belle, and I had sworn off puppies. I knew they chew everything up and were destructive, plus I didn’t want the hassle of having to house-break another dog.
Mary made me a proposition that I thought I couldn’t lose. “If this dog gives me a high five, can we keep her?” was Mary’s offer. Sure, I said, thinking there was no way an untrained puppy would give her a high five. Belle did high fives all of the time, but this little mutt? Nah. No sweat.
But when Mary crouched down and raised her palm in front of the dog, I was shocked to see the little red pup raise her left paw and touch Mary’s hand. It was a high five, no doubt about it. So being a man of my word, Katie became ours.
As I said there are four dog graves in our backyard — Belle, two rat terriers — Doodie Claire and Mosby — and Bea, a beagle-basset mix that we lost just a few months ago. Mary loved all of those dogs but Katie was just something special to her. “My baby” was what Mary called Katie. So, this is hard on my beloved wife.
Now we face the question. Do we get another dog with the prospect of going through this pain and loss once again. Or do we say finally, “We’re getting old. No more dogs.” I am leaning toward the latter choice But I think Mary will want another one. The question is still up in the air. But I will admit, the house does seem pretty empty now