This has nothing to do with diet, exercise or weightloss. This is just about being a human who loves her dog.
Martha was the best. Dog. Ever. You might think yours is great, and he or she probably is, but my dog, at this moment, on this blog was the Best. Dog. Ever. And the Best Dog Ever deserves a last day that parallels some of the best times she’s ever had, geriatric style, so that’s what we set out to do once it became clear that Martha was ready to leave us.* It all started with a weenie roast outside. If you could call it a hobby, one of Martha’s favorite hobbies was laying in the grass. It was even more fun when the family hung out, so Bradley spent her last late afternoon cleaning the patio interspersed with massages and loves for the old lady, followed by hot dog roasting, hanging out, excessive petting and sharing our Martha memories. We lasted outside until dark and the fire was out. It was a wonderful way to spend her last evening.
We headed to Martha’s favorite park, Wallace Swamp Creek on the morning of her last day. There’s so much to smell there and, while its not officially a dog park, it’s one of the few places we’ve found where friendly dogs seem to rule and run off leash. Martha is not the only geratric patron, and the few people we ran into in the park on Friday gave her their best and their blessings as they said hello and goodbye.
When she wasn’t being carried, she looked around, breathed deep and stood strong. She didn’t see the squirrels, flowers, bunnies, millipedes or other dogs, but she knew she was in her favorite place with her favorite people.
She walked a little bit. She was slow, she shuffled and almost fell when she traversed a little bank, but she went. It was tiring though and made her pretty thirsty, so when she saw the river she waded right in!
She drank and drank and drank! During the last three weeks at home she showed a keen appreciation for fresh, cold water. Whenever we would change her water dish, she would dash over to her bowl (‘dash’ being a relative term) and lap it down as quickly as possible. I think the river flowing directly into her mouth was the best thing we could have allowed her to experience. She waded further and further into the water, getting wetter and wetter. At one point, we realized she would lose her balance in the current if we kept letting her get deeper so we had to get her out. Her dear papa picked her up, dripping from the river, and continued down the trail.
While we were at the park, Gigi saw a bunch of little daisies and decided to make a daisy chain for Martha to wear for the rest of the day. She never took them off. After about an hour of wandering around her favorite stomping grounds, we picked her back up and carried her back to the car. We headed home where Martha headed right to her bed and laid down, just tuckered out. That was a lot of adventuring for a 98 year old girl!
Then it was time for goodbyes. We each sat with her, stroking her ears, massaging her neck, scratching her chest, rubbing her legs and told her how much we would love and miss her. Martha closed her eyes, thumped her tail once or twice and laid her head down. She heard us. She knew.
When we arrived at the vet’s office we carried her in, paid the bill and it became real. All around her were tears and affirmations of love. We were in a frenzy of panic, preparing to miss her, but Martha was the calm at the eye of the storm. She laid on the table and never moved. She didn’t object when they gave her the catheter or when they moved her from room to room. She was dignified and beautiful in that moment and she seemed to teach us something. I think she may have known what we were there for. She relaxed, closed her eyes and went to sleep. We knelt around her touching her with love and snipping a bit of her fur, when Bradley recognized that we accidentally dressed as the Scooby Gang one last time! How appropriate that we usher out our best girl while dressed in the group costume that had her as the key player! It was a lovely moment of kismet, but you can see yourself that she was totally crashed out, completely unmedicated:
But after that, the vet came in, Martha went to sleep and then she left us. We stayed in the room and told her we loved her still. Her spirit scampered around us like her puppy self and we sang Golden Slumbers, This is the Last Time and the songs we wrote for her and sang to her as a puppy. It was a good last day, though short. She is going to be missed every single day. She was a good friend- the best friend. Reliable, kind to a fault, enthusiastic and so full of love. Rest in peace, Martha Dear. Xxoo
Martha dog, Martha dog, running through the yard.
Martha dog, Martha dog, life’s not very hard!
Martha dog, Martha dog, always on the run.
Martha dog, Martha dog, life is very fun.
*Four weeks before Martha died she started growing a big, hard tumor on her neck. It rapidly took over, finally circling about 2/3 of her neck. It wore her out and prompted food refusal, made breathing difficult, swallowing painful and, as a result, her body weakened significantly. We made the appointment when she could no longer hold herself up to go to the bathroom, when she couldn’t walk further than 10 feet and when she refused all food- even delicious ham, roast beef and hot dogs that make non-vegetarians drool. It was not an easy decision to make, but after her response at the vet’s, I have no doubt that it was the right thing to do. I have no regrets, I just miss her like crazy cakes.