Thursday, December 03, 2009

Doggy December - Day 4 - Decision

LC and I came to the decision to put her down.

Tess had been a wonderfully loyal and loving dog to us, but only us. She was increasingly distrustful of other adults and was becoming a mortal enemy to children. We knew that our duty as parents and as hosts of other children who would come over and play with Sapphire was to ensure that they would be completely safe, monitored and happy.

There was no way we could guarantee this, even though we thought about having a special enclosure built that we could put her into when there was 'company.' An enclosure would hide the problem, but not cure it - what if one day a child thought it would be fun to undo her gate or stick their fingers through....?

We contemplated giving her to a farmer, but frankly she had a lame leg and would not be able to 'work' for long periods and only knew city life. She would still be a danger to children on the farm and possibly to livestock. She would also have run the risk of being 'put down' in a far crueller way or being beaten for misbehaving. Nor did we like the idea of giving her to someone as a guard dog - she was a beautiful creature who craved our company and affection and it would have been heartlessly cruel to leave her somewhere, keeping guard, but without any stimulation or personal contact with someone she loved.

The following morning I made the call to the vet. The girl on the other end of the phone couldn't have handled things more sensitively which of course made me cry all over again.

The booking was for 6.15pm that day because there was no point in delaying such an awful thing. LC and I spent the day calling each other every hour or so to see that we were both OK and trying to win the debate over who would be the one to walk her there and be with her. I wanted to go; but so did he. I wanted to be the one to stroke her black velvety ears and tell her how sorry I was, but then so did he.

Dear, sweet LC didn't want me to have nightmares about it so he was the one to take her, on the strict proviso that he would come home and have a good cry about it - none of this being a brave man and keeping it inside.

My boss saw me crying at my desk and sent me home. "I've had my dog for fourteen years. You need to be home with yours today." Not everyone would say that and I'll never forget his empathy regarding my pain.

LC turned up at home as well. We played with Tess for about two hours: throwing her beloved tennis ball, ruffling her ears and her chest, laughing at her antics and cuddling her every time she rested from her darting about the garden. She had absolutely no inkling at our sadness as she was too eager to make the most of the opportunity to play with us. It made me cry all over again to see her lame back leg quivering in pain as she rested, yet she still wanted me to throw her the ball.

All her life she always chose to play with us over any pain in her leg or any bowl of food. Those sparkling, little brown eyes remained focused on the ball, only looking to me if I'd delayed throwing it to her or when she leaned up against me to have a breather.

Sapphire started crying: she was hungry and wanted her dinner. I went inside to feed her and LC got the lead out. Tess jumped up in joy: a walk! Woo Hoo! Off they went.

LC was back within half an hour, quiet and strong as always.


SouthOzBloke said...

I'm so sorry.
We had to have ours put down almost a year ago and that was really hard but deep down I knew it was the right thing to do.
A year has almost passed and we're ready again. Once I make our fence a bit higher we'll have another happy, clumsy devoted family member running around the house again.

franzy said...

I'm pretty glad that Google Reader presents your columns in reverse order.
I started with this one and got to read Tess getting better and ending up as a puppy!

Our Gaz used to nip people on the ankles, but only middle-aged women and only as they were leaving. Because he was big and tough. Yeah.

JoeTaxpayer said...

I am in my 40's but can remember like it was yesterday when our dog died. We had her for over 10 years. People who never had a dog can't understand, they are more than family, as their love is always unconditional. My heart goes out to you.

River said...

Can't comment, have to go and wash the tears off my face.

Luke said...

I'm sorry to hear that your dog will be put down. It's always such a tough decision to make, but invariably, one must take the dog's best interests into account.

Kath Lockett said...

It still makes me cry, even reading my own crappy version of events on this blog.