Monday, January 25, 2010 7:09 AM

A Sad Goodbye

This past Saturday was a sad day in our neighborhood. Miss P.'s 10-year-old German Shepherd, Mr. D., who had been ailing the past few days, had to be put to sleep. He had been doing well, up to about one week ago, when he started having problems with his back legs. Miss P., thinking it was the hip dysplasia acting up, procured anti-inflammatories from her holistic veterinarian, but D. continued to decline. Clearly, something else was going on, so she made an appointment for Saturday morning, when she, J. and I could all go together with Mr. D.

J. and I had been looking in on D. a couple of times a day the preceding week while Miss P. was at work, so we knew he would need to be carried. It had gotten to the point where he wouldn't even drink water when it was brought to him, and he could not get up. Even at this point, I was still hoping that something could be done; maybe the drugs didn't agree with him, I thought. But Miss P., knowing her dog, was preparing herself for the worst. She knew what we could not; he was, after all, her best friend.

Miss P. sat in the back seat with D.'s head in her lap as J. drove us to the vet's office. When the staff was ready for us, we carried him in and placed him on a mat the doctor had put down on the floor. J. and I waited outside, and a few minutes later the vet came out to give us the news: She had felt a mass in D.'s abdomen, and there were signs of internal bleeding. Did we want to go in to say goodbye?

J. had to make a quick exit, but I stayed on with Miss P., stroking D.'s body to calm him. Miss P. and Mr. D., nose to nose, communed while preparations were made. The whole time, he never even whimpered, brave boy that he was. He also never took his eyes from Miss P.'s face as he passed, quiet as a lamb, in the arms of his soul mate. Sad, but beautiful, too.

Miss P. has been through some hard times lately, and Mr. D. helped see her through. He was special, of course, but she had "G. Sheps" before him and she will have more now that he is gone. As she told J. last year when he communicated her parents' concern about her living alone, "J., I will always have German Shepherds!" I mentioned to her just the other day that, just as I am "part cat", she is "part German Shepherd". I won't be at all surprised if she dedicates her vacation this year to settling in a new, younger version of Mr. D., with whom she will forge a different, but equally satisfying bond.

Sweet dreams, big guy! You will always have a special place in this cat person's heart.
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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