Instead of writing a post about a grape salad recipe I had planned, I’m sitting here writing about how I had to let my sweet dog go to Heaven yesterday. Writing about grapes and cream cheese would just seem like a big fat lie when I have this pain going on in my life.
Twelve years ago, I went to the Southside Animal Shelter in Indianapolis to meet a puppy I had seen online named Sam. A tan shepherd mix with a snout black as night. The shelter had rescued Sam and his siblings from the kill shelter and he was the last one left of his litter. I don’t know how I got so lucky that no one picked him before I got there, but I’m glad I did because it was love at first sight.
They said he was the biggest of his litter. And by the sound of it, he was also the loudest. He was whining and crying to be let out of the crate while I paid for him and signed all the paperwork. But by the time I was ready to scoop him up and put him in the car, he was fast asleep amongst all the chaos.
I picked Cassidy up from school (she was in 4th grade then) and we promptly went to the pet store to get our new family member some goodies. We talked on the way about how he did NOT look like a Sam. Cassidy chose the name Rudy and as she was creating his first ID tag, I looked over her shoulder and noticed she was spelling it R-O-O-D-Y, cute, like a 4th grader would. I started to correct her and she said, “This is how I spell it!” So there you go.
His name was Roody.
We called him Roody. Then we called him Roody Boody. As the years went on (and I started dating my now-husband Rudy) we just called him Boody. And sometimes we just called him Bood. (Usually when he was in trouble.)
This dog loved to run. I mean, REALLY loved to run. Like, run and never come back. I was always afraid he would get out of our fenced-in yard and get hit by a car. When I would take him on walks, he never walked straight ahead. He would weave back and forth because I was too slow. After our walk was over, he probably traveled twice the distance.
We were members of a bark park in Indy and Boody absolutely LOVED it. It was much bigger than our small yard and it had a POND. He would run and run and run, sniff a butt or two, and then run some more. The first time we went there he ran full speed and jumped directly into the pond, not knowing he wouldn’t be able to touch the bottom.
He only did that once.
But just because he was afraid to swim didn’t mean he wasn’t still in love with the pond. He would run around it and run along the edge of it just enough to get muddy. He would run into other dogs that got near it, like he was claiming it for himself. MY PONNNNND! Then drink about two gallons of it, throw it all up, and start running again. Oh, Boody. I can picture him now, running with his mouth wide open and his tongue hanging to one side with a smile on his face. Yes, a real smile. Dog owners know what I’m talking about. Dogs can smile. And my Boody smiled when he was running.
I asked my parents to dogsit once at their house out in the country. My dad thought it would be easy to train Boody to come. All he had to do was let him off-leash and he would listen, darn it.
The way my dad tells the story, as soon as the screen door was opened, Boody launched himself off the porch, completely clearing all the steps, and took off like he was on fire. He ran down the country road, doubled back, and passed the house again. My dad said he was running so fast, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot him. Boody finally came back to the yard to see what my parent’s dogs were up to and my dad got ahold of him.
My dad only tried that once.
Yes, Boody loved to run. He also loved kids. He loved when I rubbed around his ears with my thumbs. Getting on the couch. Peanut butter. Having his chest scratched. Jumping so high that his head cleared our 6-foot fence. Ice cream cones and rotisserie chicken. He loved getting brushed. He loved us.
Over the last 6 months I think I’ve been in denial about how he had been aging. Or maybe it was that it was so gradual that I didn’t realize how frail he had become. Now writing this and remembering how agile and full of life he used to be, maybe it was a bit of both.
The last two months especially it had crossed my mind that the time was coming soon. I even said it out loud. Then this past weekend it was obvious that I needed to take him in. I say it was obvious, but still, I needed the vet to confirm for me that I was doing the right thing. Who am I to decide when? When I called to make an appointment I said, “I think I need to put my dog down.”
I went to the store and bought Boody a rotisserie chicken. I took all the meat off of it and fed it to him like royalty. Cassidy bought him an ice cream cone and a hamburger. Then we went to our appointment.
I had to get the vet’s opinion. I had to be sure. What if I put him to sleep and he could’ve lived another year? Well, he may have. But he would’ve done it in pain. Another year of no running. Another year of being unable to control his bladder. Another year of dementia. He struggled to stand up when the vet came in. I realized I hadn’t seen that smile on his face in a long time. I asked the vet what she would do if he were her dog.
They took him back to get a catheter in his leg and a sedative. Then they brought him to us and said to take all the time we needed, they would check on us.
I got on the floor with him, took off his collar, and scratched him there. I said I bet that feels awesome. He was loving it. We were telling him it was going to be okay. He started getting sleepy. Eventually his head ended up in my lap. I rubbed around his ears with my thumbs and told him what a good boy he was. I looked into his eyes and told him I loved him. I thought for a second that some people don’t get to do that. I almost felt lucky. I told him he was going to get our spot ready in Heaven for us. The vet came in and I said we were ready. She put the needle in the catheter. I whispered, “It’s okay, buddy. Go ahead. No fences.”
And now he’s running.