Wednesday, January 01, 2014

This feeling calls for everything that I am not

Spike came to us 10.5 years ago, on my birthday weekend. After we got Peanut and moved to Seattle, we had been thinking about getting another dog. I really wanted a beagle. TJ did not. I saw an ad in the Micronews, the now-defunct internal newsletter at work, for a family looking to find a new home for their 3 year old beagle.

Last week at the dog park, Spike @ 13 years 9 months

I remember the first time I spoke to his previous owner - he called me back during a class I was taking at work. I was so excited about meeting Spike (who started out his life as Scooby, not a good name for a beagle IMO). TJ and I drove over to their house that night, nervous and trying to make a good impression because it was clear they were willing to wait to find the right, good home for their dog.

We thought the best idea would be to dogsit Spike for a weekend so we could make sure he and Peanut would get along. Spike was pretty much all wrong for a second dog choice - he was older than Peanut, hadn't lived with other dogs before, and was also male.

They spent the weekend checking each other out, and quite frankly it was clear Spike didn't like Peanut at all. He wanted to be the dominant dog, but "that stupid big puppy" just didn't get it. Reluctantly by the end of the weekend we were about to return him. Then I looked out the window and saw them actually playing a game of chase, and both were having fun.

So he stayed. He's not a good dog, but he's a nice one. He is not interested in pleasing us, he barks in the yard (sorry neighbors) and never did get the hang of walking nicely on-leash. He got really sick in 2007 after he escaped over the fence at the dog park and ate something gross. He had to be hospitalized for that incident.

Now he's nearly 14 years old. He's got some arthritis, his kidneys are only working at about 25%, and he's got a tumor in his bladder that can't be treated.  A few weeks ago, our vet said he only had a matter of weeks and anything we did was palliative.

I am sad. But we are also lucky. Lucky that we had 10 healthy fun years with him. Lucky that he adjusted to babies in the house, despite being a non-kid-friendly beagle. Lucky that we have some time to say goodbye and love on him.

Spike and Peanut are my first dogs, so I've never had to go through this. I spent a lot of time assiduously ignoring the possibility that one day they won't be with us. 

But now it's time for me to step up. My insightful husband told me a while ago that our dogs would teach our daughter one final life lesson when it's their time to go. It's a lesson for me, too. 

Spike's time is very soon. He started limping today and is obviously in pain, which we're managing with medication. Our vet (bless her) has been calling every few days to check on him. I don't know what the next few days has in store for him, but we will provide him with a warm spot on the couch and all the lunchmeat and aebleskivers he wants. 

Your family loves you, little guy.


  1. GAH....You got me crying. I am so sorry you have to go through this. Having just done this with Pookie in May - I get it. Having the time to prepare for the loss is a gift. I'm so glad I had that with Pookie too. I knew I made the right choice and decided to really focus on all the good he brought into my life. Hugs to you ...

  2. My heart aches for you. A few years ago we had to make the difficult decision to end our dog RIley's suffering, and though it hurt so badly, it was the humane thing to do. Sending my love!

  3. So sorry to hear this - not a fun way to start the year. But yes, it is a good lesson.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. Xxx

  5. Oh Anandi, this is hard. I try not to think about it, and hopefully we've got a long ways until we do (she's 7, though officially a "senior" per the vet). Lots of hugs to you...

  6. This brought tears to my eyes, too. This is the hard part of loving dogs - they give so much love but their time here is so short. I hope you guys find solace and joy in all the pampering you get to do as you say your goodbyes… I'd also recommend the book Going Home by John Katz. It made both Justin and me cry, but it also made us feel really good about everything we did for Sydney. Take care!


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