Just before I came home last time, my mom had to have her dog put down. It was time, as his quality of life had declined and he was suffering the ravages of a slow senescence and resultant system breakdowns. I was proud of how my mom and brother handled it, and though it's always awful, part of being a responsible pet owner is accepting responsibility for safe and humane treatment from start to finish.
Figaro was the runt of the litter, the character- a near perfectly round hairball of a Pekinese, and handsome in a way the breed usually isn't. He had a deviated nasal septum and a narrow respiratory tract- as I said, he was a runt. The end result of this was that he snorted a lot when he was excited, and snored quite loudly for an 8-lb dog. He was a perfect puppy, and, happily, never lost the puppylike desire to play and be affectionate. I'm not a small dog person, but he was awesome-
|It takes a confident heterosexual man to pull off this pose.|
As my father's last days wound out, Figaro was always at his feet- supremely loyal, and, after my father's passing, the dog aged quickly.
At 12, he was still as puppylike as ever, but when my mom broke her leg this year and spent 3 months at a rehab hospital trying to get the bones to set, Figaro wilted on the vine. One of the best stories I heard was how my brother brought the dog into the rehab hospital to see my mom after she had been away from home for a month, and Figaro went absolutely bonkers, after which, at home, he perked up again. But none of us can win against the determined march of anno domini, and his time came to an end.
My parents had a habit of getting a new puppy when their dog began to slow down from age. I credit this with the long-lived and content series of dogs we've had over the years. The combination of youth and age seems to have had a synergistic effect in terms of behavior and longevity. My mom's health precluded that, this time, but that's OK. After losing a little titan like Figaro, I think it's OK to wait a bit.
|The cone of shame|