Fear, Loathing, Loss, and Pain

If you’re not a pet lover, please avoid this blog for a few days. Because that’s most likely what it’s going to be about, at least for these next few entries. Non-pet lovers tend to not understand a connection between a man and his dog. I don’t understand why I’m so affected by it myself. If I can make it to poker night tomorrow, I’ll try to post my usual poker night story.

Anyway, our dog Shelby is scheduled to be put down tomorrow at 10am. She’s like 12.5 years old and has been steadily declining of late. We’ve tried a variety of things but all she’s done is get worse, losing control of herself and having a harder and harder time getting around. The vet says it’s come down to a quality of life issue now. It pains me to see her try to get up from laying down and when she goes up our stairs from the family room.

I’ve known what was inevitably going to happen for at least a week now, but just could never sit down and write it down. I’m not really into this now either. At various times during the day, my thoughts have come up with things that I wished to put down about my dog, but they escape me when I actually get around to it.

Shelby is the third dog that I’ve owned in my life. I’ve always been a dog person. I’ve grown to care for cats but never to the extent of dogs. My first dog was Tiger, named either after the Detroit Tigers or the dog on the Brady Bunch. Tiger was around until he was killed one night by another dog in our yard. My parents hid him from me when I got up for school and then buried him before I got home. I was in 6th grade I think and was very upset that I was robbed of the closure of seeing him. Tipper came next. I don’t know how I came up with the name. When my Dad moved into town after I was in college, Tipper was the one that lost. The problem was that Tipper had developed a habit of dissappearing around the neighborhood for days at a time and had spent a lot of time on a chain. He went to stay at my uncle’s, but my uncle didn’t want to have a dog chained up. He showed up once at my old house while I happened to be there. I spent a lot of time with him and hated taking him back to my uncle’s place. The next time Tipper dissappeared, no one saw him again.

Needless to say, with Shelby I just wanted to have a dog that was able to live out her life and then pass on, without some incident, disease, or life intervening. But maybe that’s the exception, rather than the norm. Probably the same for humans. I’ve always seemed to be more affected at having my dogs taken away then I have with most people. I know that sounds horrible. It’s just different. They almost become like your children. And really, for the wife-al unit and I, Shelby was our first child. She was the first commitment type thing that we did together. Another example of how pathetic I am in my attachment to my dogs is when I was in 7th grade and getting ready for confirmation (it’s a Catholic thing). We had interviews with the priest. He asked if I had any questions for him and I asked about pets who die and what happens to them. He answered me that the belief is that there is a special place in heaven fo those animals who are really loved by someone. I hope that’s true and my three dogs will be waiting for me with my other family members when (if?) I get there.

I’ve thought of loads more to say over the past week about this, but nothing else is coming out, except for the terrible guilt that I keep feeling. Because in reality, tomorrow I’m going to be killing my dog.


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