Such a beautiful day- billowing clouds and a fanatical wind kept her cool and content as the sun beat warm upon her upturned face. This was not the day she had imagined herself having.
Earlier that morning, she had loaded their 12 year old lab into the back seat of the truck for what she told him would be “an adventure “. His tail wagged excitedly as he attempted the short jump upward. As had been the usual of late, he missed his determined landing point, falling backwards to the pavement. “It’s okay”, she told him. “Let’s try again.” He so wanted to please her and she knew she couldn’t lift his 60 pound body adequately. So he lunged up and forward again, this time making it as she gave his backside a gentle push, creating the confidence he needed.
Rides were among his favorite things and this would possibly be the longest he had ever had. Rolling down all the windows and turning up the music for her sake more than for his, the journey began. As the 40 degree morning air made its way onto her body, she shivered. He, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier. With his head out the window, he sniffed the ever-new scents as they passed cow pastures then highway trucks and finally the all-too-mouthwatering smell of fast food chains baking their morning biscuits. He had not been allowed food since last night’s supper.
Settling into the curbside parking space, he watched with her as animal after animal came and went through one of four office doors. Silent he was- until one of “his kind” limped out onto the sidewalk. A handsome male he was. Roughly 3 years old by his size. His front leg was in a splint and his tail wove itself down and under his body. He was scared. And it showed. A very loud bark erupted from Wilson’s throat. And the puppy stopped dead in its tracks, turned and whimpered at him. Reaching over the seat to rub his head, I whispered, “That could be you being afraid! Show him how to be brave”. Wilson quieted himself and I rewarded him the privilege of lapping up the water I had brought for him straight from the bottle rather than from his bowl. How delighted he was to receive his reward!
All too soon, it was his turn. And to the technician’s delight, he waited appropriately while I fastened his leash onto his harness, then jumped out and went willingly with her.
The doctor came out to tell me that the physical exam had been done. As we knew, the infection was bad and without help through medication. Surgery, if deemed appropriate, would be needed. Or it could be cancer raging in his bladder. The only way to know would be the ultrasound we came for.
The doctor then asked me about his wheezing which had also been a concern of ours. I learned that it is actually a genetic condition in older labs whereby the phalangeal tube begins to narrow. She informed me that due to his current condition whereby his wheezing was advanced he might not be able to make it through surgery even if we decided to go that route. His breathing tube had basically narrowed to the size of a small straw. Our options were narrowing rapidly.
Hating to ask the inevitable question, I probed for other answers. Was an ultrasound even necessary? She comforted me to assure that we would have answers if we proceeded. But her major comfort was in telling me , “He’s a lab. He wants to please you so he rallies. But no matter the outcome of the tests he only has a few weeks to perhaps a couple months ahead where he will continue to deteriorate. “
I had to make the call. As per my conversation earlier that morning with my husband, I asked for the ultrasound to be performed along with a needle biopsy of the fluid in his prostate and his bladder. Then came the wait. Four plus hours to second guess my decision. Four plus hours to tell myself he was likely not going home with me. Four plus hours to pray for peace and for God’s wisdom rather than the wisdom of the world.
The wait began.
Six hours passed. And then the hardest moment ever came. Results of his ultrasound showed that further tests were needed. And surgery – which he likely would not live through due to his phalangeal paralysis. The decision was being made for us and I didn’t know what to do except the obvious.
While I really don’t need to relay more details, suffice it to say we miss him immensely. And I clearly have no way to end this post except with pictures of our memories with Wilson.
If you have lost a pet, believe me when I say that I know some of how you feel. Loss is loss. And pets become loyal companions. So now I’m smiling. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we need companions until they are gone.
We are blessed to have had him with us for 12 years. 12 GOOD years.
May God meet you where you are today. He surely has met us.