“How lucky I am to have someone that makes saying goodbye so hard. “ Winnie the Pooh
Today we lost our Angus, our eldest basset hound. The decision to put him down came on very suddenly. It followed symptoms of lethargy, clear signs of discomfort and his lack of interest in food which only got worse as the days went by. I took him to a pet emergency hospital today because it was clear his distress was not going away. I knew what we were in for in terms of the numerous tests needed to try to get at the root of his symptoms. The tests results of his liver were particularly alarming and suggested some serious issues but no simple path to reveal exactly what they were. The x-rays did not make it clear either. The vet cautioned that finding the path towards the problem would need to be aggressive. She was also not convinced the prognosis would be good for such an old soul.
As she spoke, I felt a deep heaviness in my heart and tears began to fall. I had hoped for different words. Don’t we all in the face of such uncertainty? It seemed clear that the best thing for Angus was not the thing we had hoped for, like some digestive discomfort one can solve with a simple prescription. As well, having worked with animals over the years I considered the signs Angus was exhibiting were likely serious. I didn’t want him to suffer, nor did my husband Jim, and I was clear neither of us wanted Angus to go through invasive procedures which could put him in greater harm’s way. It seemed very clear what had to be done. I lay with him until he made his crossover. In the face of my considerable emotion, I felt the peace of the transition.
Angus came into our lives in the summer of 2013. He was a little over 8 years old. He was put up for adoption on Craig’s List by his owners, a younger couple with two growing children, who rescued Angus a few years back. Jobs took them away from home often. The mother, Jennifer, felt Angus would be better off with another family. She warned me that Angus was pretty shy around people and may not warm up to me at first. I was not daunted, rather intrigued. I told her of our love for bassets and our own history with rescues, so we arranged a meeting right away.
Angus was rather oblivious to me when I entered the home, but once I sat down, he walked right up to me and sat squarely in front of me, eyes focused on my own. Jennifer was surprised by this action on the part of Angus. He never does this, she said. I took it as a clear sign this one was a keeper, certainly I felt he was telling me that I was his. She further told me that Angus did not like men too much, but I told her we could work on that. Once the decision was made, Angus was put on his leash, and walked out to the car with me. He jumped into our car without hesitation and on our way we went.
For the two and a half years we had him, Angus was well behaved and a joyful addition to our home. At his first meeting with Jim, Angus adopted him too. Angus claimed his corner on the couch and never hesitated to communicate his desire for a treat or dinner. He played with and helped to raise our Corgi, Katy. He was a voracious communicator and a creature who loved his comfort.
The house is quiet today, too quiet, and the loss we feel is deep, but we find comfort thinking that Angus is in a good place. We are stunned by the suddenness of his passing, but manage as each minute passes to find the wonderful elements his presence gave us. We know our lives were richer having Angus in it. We miss him immensely.
All of us are faced with many decisions in the course of our life, and not all are easy ones to make. How do we reconcile our choices? Our pets give us much love, and take our lead with a certain trust. The unconditional nature of their love is a life lesson. When faced with choosing for them, it is hard to figure what to do in regard to their welfare. We don’t want to fail them. We don’t want them to think they are not loved. If possible, will they understand our choice and why we do it? On some level, I believe they do.
So to our friend I say this much: It was a good ride, Angus. Have fun sniffing the good smells and finding your way around heaven. The love you offered was the best. You taught the power of acceptance and trust. What a gift.