The Death of a Dog
Rex, my dog of 12 years had to be put down on January 9th, 2013. It was a long battle and in the end it was time. I have always said that with animals that are injured or sick, I will continue to fight for them as long as they are willing to fight. They know when to stop and I will respect that. Though I will say that even when you know it is time, it hurts the humans more than the pets I am sure of that. He went peacefully in his sleep while I bawled like a baby all night long.
I rescued Rex from a bad home situation when he was only 6 months old. He had been chained to his doghouse and the disgusting owners moved away and left him there. Nobody knew he was even there until a neighbor walking up the road heard him howling. That nice person rescued the puppy who by then had been there for three days without food or water. She couldn’t keep the dog as she was allergic, but luckily a friend of hers knew me and knew that I was looking for a Golden Retriever.
I got the phone call about the dog and went to “look” at him, knowing full well that I would be bringing him home with me. He was absolutely wild and had severe attachment issues – who wouldn’t after being left chained to a doghouse? On the ride home, I remember having the already 30 pound “puppy” wrestling around and sitting in my lap and thinking what had I gotten myself into.
Rex was more than your typical Golden Retriever. He would make certain that he was underfoot and right next to you, usually with at least one paw touching you to make sure either he knew you were there, or perhaps reminding you that he was there.
When exiting the shower each morning, I would not only have to step over the rim of the bathtub, but over him as well. Not only was he right in front of the shower, but he took up every inch of the bath mat. Thus, my wet feet had to go on the cold wood floors. Most times I didn’t mind, but in the dead of winter, I usually nudged him over so I could have a corner. Or I would at least make him share the little electric heater all the while grumbling to him that he really didn’t need the heater seeing as he had a thick winter coat and I was wet and naked. Most times he just ignored me. Other times he would huff and move over.
Best of all, he was a farm dog and he relished being outdoors with me. He loved being with the chickens, especially when we had baby chicks. He enjoyed playing mother “hen” to them and we would have to watch him otherwise he would lick them until they had weird chick mohawks.
During lambing season, he was more than once butted by the mama ewes as he got too close to the baby lambs. He was always more than delighted when we would have a rejected lamb as he would “help” us bottle feed and play with the baby.
The horse and Rex didn’t always get along, so they were more content to look at each other from either side of the fence, but the sheep and chickens tolerated his presence. They sort of had to, and I think they got that after a while. I swear I used to hear the sheep sigh when he would come into the barn…
Though perfectly happy to enjoy the company of anyone willing to give him a scratch behind the ears, he was faithfully my dog and best friend. Even writing this five weeks later is making me tear up and realize that I am not quite ready to accept that he is gone. The house seems empty. Walks in the woods seem less jubilant without him forging ahead and then bounding back to make sure I was watching.
I am looking into a new puppy, perhaps for this spring or summer as I cannot imagine life without a dog by my side. But for now, I am doing things one day at a time and making sure to live life to its fullest, because of course that is what a dog would do, especially Rex.
Why I decided to post this on Valentine’s Day I’m not sure. Most likely because I needed to express that love never dies, especially for our four-legged friends.
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