Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sad days at the Den

December has been a bad month at the Den. First off I just returned after a five day recoup in the hospital for a leg infection and yesterday, Dec 26th, at 4:30pm (CST) I brought our German Shepherd, Salem, to the vet to have him put to sleep. Let me say that this still is the hardest thing I had ever done. A few years ago I had to put my Samoyed, Kandee, to sleep. She was the first time I ever had to make that kind of decision. I bit my lip as I said 'yes' to the vet, and unfortunately I said 'no' to being there when they did it. I felt so damn guilty for not being by her side as she went down. It broke my heart and still does when I think back to that day. (And then a few years later, our red and white husky Autumn passed away in the backyard alone from an epileptic attack. That made my wife feel real guilty.)

Well yesterday was that same day all over again, but this time I swore that I would be by his side. While I waited for the vet to come in, I immediately flashed back to all the great days we all had together. From the time he was brought home as a pup, through his awkward galumphing stage. We call it galumphing because of those long legs and big feet all going in different directions as he ran (or walked) and growing faster than the rest of his body. He still had those galumphing moments here and there even after puppyhood.

He grew into such a handsome dog. With sparkling eyes, beautiful disposition, resounding triumphant bark, and the most kissiest dog ever. His breath was something to consider, but that dog loved to give kisses to anyone who brought their face close to his. He had a heart bigger than the world and a loving spirit to match. His adorable inquisitive head-tilt with ears perked high just made you smile and want to shmoosh his face. But he loved that. There wasn't much that dog didn't love to do.

His tenderness showed through the most at night when everyone is gathered in the living room watching TV. He would lie on the couch and put his head on whose ever leg was closest to him. Breathing softly through that big squishy black nose of his. And if he wasn't on the couch, he was on the floor where the kids made use of his large size and used him as a makeshift fuzzy pillow. Great on cold nights. But he didn't care, he loved them. He would lift his head, look down as the kids adjusted themselves comfortably, look at my wife and I, lay his head back down with a sigh of contentment. And he would stay that way for hours. The children absolutely loved Salem. But they were completely torn apart when we had to explain that today was the day Salem wouldn't be coming home. They didn't take it well. My daughter asked my wife, when will Salem wake up so he can come home. I wish it were that easy.

What I'll really miss is all those quirky moments of his, that looking back just didn't click, but now make an impression because he is gone. Like for instance, anytime he was downstairs and I would walk by the staircase, he would pop his head around to see who it was. He would just stand there staring and when you acknowledged his presence he would fly up the stairs to be petted and face shmooshed, tail going a mile-a-minute. *snicker*

When the vet finally came in, she asked what he was in for, and I lost it. I held out so damn good in the waiting room, filled out the necessary forms without a semblance of a whimper or tearing up. But as soon as the vet said why was I there, I couldn't hold back. It took roughly 5 or so minutes before I was able to compose myself and answer. All the time Salem was looking at me with the 'whats the matter' look on his face. The look that I have seen so many times before whenever I had a bad day. He was a great security blanket for a quick emotional release. Well that day I really let loose.

When I finally composed myself, I told her what he was there for. She explained that larger breeds suffer the maladies that he had been going through as they grow older. I thought to myself, "Yeah, that's them. But not my Salem!" He was such a bountiful ball of energy. And to see him in such a state was heartbreaking. It was because of this state that I knew that this was the only alternative I had. I couldn't stand to watch as he grew weaker and weaker and suffered so much. He needed to finally sleep.

The vet excused herself as she went to get the injection. It was then I lifted his tired face to mine and he gave me one final kiss, and I gave him his last facial shmoosh. His tail wagged weakly under the blanket I brought him in as he looked into my eyes. They were still sparkling and so big. I gave a small kiss on his nose. The vet returned and explained that they would be giving him an overdose of a tranquilizer. It would put him asleep before it would stop everything else. So for better terms, he would feel drowsy, then go to sleep, and finally expire.

I sat by his side and gently massaged his ears, which always comforted him all the years before growing up (the content grumbling he made was a sure sign that you were hitting the right spot). I watched as the vet shaved his forearm (foreleg) and then inject the first dose, it made him drowsy, after a short bit he closed his eyes and fell asleep. She then injected the second dose, I laid my hand on his chest and felt his last breath as his lungs stopped. I then felt his heartbeat slow and then stop. My little galumpher was gone. My heart sank. I felt this great void sudden open up. I must of sat there for another five or so minutes still softly massaging his ears and gently stroking his head and fuzzy white chin. Autumn and Kandee are going to have their paws full when he arrives. *smiles*

Goodbye Salem. We love and miss you so very much you little Galumpher.
Salem Witchmoon



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