Four weeks ago today, we had to put one of our four dogs down. The name of this sweet boy was Tonka.
He was an Australian Shepherd (Blue Merle).
It was our first “personal” dog ending.
The loss of a pet is emotional
Above and beyond the simple “loss of life,” comes other aspects of pain.
And the pain is dependent on many things. In our case, it was an ongoing “cancer.” He wasn’t hit by a car, or something as dramatic or instant. It was a (relatively) slow and painful process.
We had to struggle with many unknowns. Is this treatable? Can we cure it? Is the diagnosis correct?
However, we had to deal with half a dozen veterinarian practices over time – which gave us many profoundly different prognosis. So confusing and uncertain. We were doubtful before, but we have practically lost faith in most veterinary practices. It’s actually getting to the point where “googling” a solution is a safer option. Sad, but true.
But in the end, no matter what we were told, or what we tried to do – his condition got the best of him. It was quite gruesome at the end. A massive nasal tumor that ate through his jaw and was just plain terrible. When he started losing teeth randomly, we knew the end was near.
Our boy Tonka hung in there like a champ. Didn’t express any real outward signs of trouble until the end. The last night he sadly reminded us that something was dreadfully wrong. The final act we tried desperately to avoid was upon us.
Tonka was a character
Our pooch Tonka was a few weeks away from hitting his 10-year milestone. He didn’t make it (although we believe he was “alive” in the womb exactly a decade before he bid farewell).
This dog had one of the strongest personalities we’ve ever known for a canine. A perpetual pain in the neck that needed a constant “talking to,” but we loved him for that at the same time.
His incessant drive to get the missed treat from the other dogs, or his “first in line” determination, or his excellent attention-span, were just a few of his “dominant” characteristics that made him unique.
And despite the aggressive “faults,” he made up for it in many other ways – one of which was being the absolute best “car dog” in history! Perfect in all aspects!
Accepting loss is not easy – but you come to grips
What makes losing a dog “before his time” hardest is exactly that. “Why so soon?”
But even worse – is why him? Why Mr. Tonka? Why did he have to encounter that poker hand of life, when he was so full of energy and personality?
I often say that maybe some of those special dogs who have exemplary characters (and end life earlier than their friends) almost are pre-programmed to be such outlandish pooches. Because they have to live “15 years of life in just 10.”
Perhaps we got an “ultra-concentrated” version of a dog because of a pre-determined fate. Who knows.
In the end – we had to do what we did by letting him rest. His condition was irreversible and would have only gotten even worse and more painful.
And in retrospect, perhaps the way in which he got sick had an impact on how we are accepting the reality of it. We were faced with the not-so-pleasant outcomes repeatedly over many months. The subject was front and center, and couldn’t be brushed under the rug. It was in plain sight.
So when the time came – we were sadly not “unprepared” for the outcome.
But that doesn’t change how sad you will feel when your loving buddy is no longer with you and your family. Your living space is changed in a peculiar way. You’re somewhat relieved (if that doesn’t sound too shallow) that his suffering is over, and the closure process begins – especially after all the drama.
The emptiness in your heart is what remains, and will slowly re-build over time.
Rest in peace, Tonka!