For the third time in eight years, I found myself sitting on the floor in the veterinarian’s office in tears, saying goodbye to one our dogs. I had to have our Yorkshire Terrier, Trixie, put down this morning.
It was time, she was very old as dogs go, 17-year, one month and 18 days old in human time – 71-year’s in dog-years when properly calculated. She had long ago lost her ability to hear, she had only three teeth remaining and blindness and incontinence had come on her without warning.
For all of her life, Trixie was a brave, independent and stubborn spirit. She traveled and explored places with me, chased rabbits and even backed-down two Rottweiler’s that she felt had gotten to close to her human, earning her the nickname, “Rotten-weiler,” for a bit of time.
Once, while hiking the slopes of the ghost town, Bodie, California, I heard her barking furiously. After barking like a crazed-dog, she’d charge forward then race back to me.
After watching her do this a couple of times, I finally saw it: a rattle snake. Trixie not only was trying to chase it off, she was also warning me, trying to keep me safe. She got an extra treat for her bravery that evening.
She was also my ‘four-legged supervisor’ when it came to projects around the home. She was endlessly curious about whatever I was doing, whether re-plastering a wall and painting it to fixing our fence to pruning the rose bushes.
Her curiosity was such that as a puppy, she’d growl at the bull-skull that hangs in our living room. I’d hear her, but never could get to the living room in time to see what had her on alert.
Finally, after a couple of months, I watched as she placed her front paws on the wall, making herself twice her height and studied the skull some ten feet above her head. After a few seconds, she emitted a low growl of suspicion, which was finally satisfied when I pulled the thing from the wall and let her investigate it to her hearts’ content.
My wife and I both saw the change in her behavior and we knew that one day soon, we’d have to make the hated decision. That day came last Thursday when the always the food-centric dog no longer had an appetite and what she did eat, often came back up on her.
And instead of retreating to favorite blanket to sleep, as was generally her habit, she began standing for long periods, head down, back-hunched, listlessly staring into the distance and acting seemingly confused. That’s no way for a dog to live, especially Trixie, who had been so full of life at one time.
So there I sat, red-eyed, face-swollen from tears filled with both sadness and joy, as I reminisced over the memory of “Trixie-licks,” as I called her (she loved licking our faces – especially our noses.) She has more than earned her well-deserved rest.
Finally, with one more gentle kiss on her tiny nose, I let her go, forever. Rest well, my sweet little baby girl.