Today my family and I took Weezer, our old dog in to be euthanized. Weezer was a big part of our family for over sixteen years. We got him as some guy was trying to kick him into the middle of a busy road in Lansing. I remember as a pup he was solid black except for a small patch of white on his chest, not the gray dog he became. We already had a dog at that time and they both got along. The day after we got him off to the vets he went. He was treated for worms, got his vaccines, started on heartworm preventative and set up an appointment to get him neutered. Thus our relationship started as we took ownership and were now responsible for him. Within the first few days he started to show some behavioral issues. He had redirected aggression he bit everyone in the family but our youngest daughter. He wasn’t always this way and did not have any one thing that triggered him, he was unpredictable, and he did not always give warning. Everyone we knew said he was a bad seed and we should have him euthanized. Silly me I thought for sure we could work through this, I could change or manage the unwanted behaviors, I could help him as I was sure he was how he was due to no fault of his own. He went through puppy class, he also saw two behaviorists, and with the last one giving us words of wisdom as we left…”Good Luck with him you will need it”. We tried him on puppy Prozac which only made him more aggressive. At times it was rough to say the least but as he got older he got better. I like to think maybe he finally realized I was not giving up. Yes the wait was a long one but they do say some things are worth waiting for and he was. He had an older sister at home when we got him then after we got him we also adopted two younger sisters and two younger brothers. I remember joking and saying he was so ornery he would out live them all and he did. We lost all the pack members of our original pack except Weezer. Within the past year we adopted another brother and sister so Weezer now had a new pack family. Not to mention the past few months he has had a foster sister too. He was still the boss even on his last day of life and the other dogs knew it. When he was younger he went into acute liver failure from the vet putting him on a pain medicine for his back, other than that he has been one of our healthiest dogs. As he got older he was arthritic (was on meds for that), totally deaf, had cataracts (he could still see the neighbors cats in our yard and he would let them know it was his yard), he had all of his teeth (must be from daily brushing) and a few months ago had idiopathic vestibular that he recovered fully from. Can’t say I ever understood Weezer but somehow together we made it through the good and bad. He was not a perfect dog by any means but dogs are children with fur, you can’t just wash your hands of your children even though at times you may want to. Are your children perfect…..well neither are your dogs. Some relationships just take more work than others. I will never understand how people find it so easy to wash their hands of their dogs. Hard to believe Weezer has been with us through our youngest daughter in kindergarten, graduating high school and getting married (she was always his favorite and he hers). He was a good friend to all four of our kids, he watched them grow up, at times they had to overlook his faults, but on the upside everyone survived and learned. Funny how I remember he never once had an accident in our house; I can say he was our only dog to have excellent potty training skills. He never really acted his age, in December he went to CAHS for a picture with Santa (his younger days he would have bit Santa but not now) he still played with the other dogs in the back yard up to a few days before we let him go (he would still take the ball from them and walk away and drop it) he still walked a mile a day which just dropped from three miles this past fall. I am thankful he was in good shape for his age till the very end.
I came home from work on Tuesday and there was something different with him, he did not come to greet me, something was off, his eyes looked sad to me, he just laid there on the living room floor, he didn’t want to go outside or even follow me to the kitchen (which he liked to do in hopes of getting a treat). I thought give him a couple days, maybe he would be ok again as he has done that before, bounced back. We called him the timex energizer dog as he would take a licking and keep on ticking and he would keep going and going and going. I did not want to let him go after all we have been through so much together. We were always there for each other. He was a good friend and companion. Weezer counted on me to do the best for him as I always have. I could not let him down. I owed him that. I called the vet on Thursday and scheduled for Friday at four-thirty. I felt sick to my stomach, and so very sad. I knew I was doing what was best for Weezer but that did not make it any easier. He was telling me he had enough; I needed to let him go. I was hoping he would go peacefully in his sleep. It became obvious his body was not going to give in but it was time. I had Friday off from work and spending his last day with him was emotional, I knew what was going to happen, he did not. Our foster dog (we have had for about five months now) she is not yet a year old never hung with Weezer as she was a puppy and did what puppies do best, bug the older dogs, Weezer did not like being bugged so she learned to stay clear of him and just play with the other dogs. On Friday for some strange reason they were best buddies all day long, if he went in the kennel she followed and they fell asleep together, if he got a drink she followed and got one, if he laid in the middle of the living room floor she was right next to him, if he went outside she was right by his side. I will always wonder was it because Weezer did not go after her as he was not feeling like his normal self so she thought they can be friends now or was it she just knew he needed a friend that day and was not going to let him be by himself.
It was time; the girls loaded him into the back seat of the car one sitting on either side of him. I was thinking it seems so strange that we as humans decide when to let go of a friend. At this point I was crying so hard I really don’t know how we made it to the vets. He walked into the vets as if to say I am ready. He left paw prints in the snow and our hearts. We all tried to gain composure knowing we were doing the loving, right thing even though for us it sure didn’t seem that way. I signed the paperwork, paid the bill; the vet assistant asked if I wanted the ashes back as I was having him cremated. She then brought out a blanket and Weezer who was now exhausted from walking around and smelling so much in the vet’s office laid on the blanket, the vet explained the procedure and gave Weezer an injection in a back leg (muscle), within a few minutes Weezer was very relaxed, sleepy. He actually looked comfortable like his pain from his old body was no longer a hindrance to him. We were all telling him we loved him, he was going to meet up with the other dogs as they were waiting for their pack leader once again. I thanked him for being ours and for the things he taught me. We then picked him up in the blanket and moved him onto the table. We all gathered around him, the kids were by his face so on his way out he could see their faces as he loved them so, they wanted him to know they were still with him as they had always been. I tried not to look at my husband as I knew I would break down and not be ok. He always takes care of things and this time he just couldn’t. In my mind I wanted him to say let’s not do this let’s get out of here. They shaved a small spot on his right front leg but his veins were not good in that leg (old dog veins) so they shaved a small spot in his left front leg, the vet injected the needle into Weezers leg, drew back blood and slowly injected and that was it, his tired old body was gone. The vet listened with his stethoscope, it was over, Weezer was no longer with us. We stayed a few minutes, said our good byes and we left. I tried telling myself he was better off now and happy with the other dogs, but my heart was breaking.
I carried his leash, collar and bandanna home, set it on the couch the other dogs jumped up and sniffed. It was over. Sixteen and a half years of sharing my life. Pets touch our lives, they become interwoven in them. As I fed the other dogs their supper, I packed up Weezers bowl with his name on it, his toothbrush, leash, collar and bandanna. Why pack it up, guess I really don’t know. Right now it is all I have left of him and I just can’t let go, not now, maybe one day. As I sit here writing this I know they say that writing is a part of the healing process, it unburdens your heart. I don’t think it’s working for me. I am trying to look at it as I released Weezer to something better. He will always be in my heart. I will always remember him. That last act I did for him was both the hardest yet kindest. In closing I will say Weezer was not a perfect dog, I have had many dogs and as of yet not a perfect one. He was a good dog and we loved him so. I am glad he shared his life with us. He put up with us as we did him, like Weezer none of us were perfect either. For people who can’t understand how I feel about him it is sad as they have missed out on so much, what all a dog can bring to your life, the good and bad and the ugly, what they can teach us….I have many life lessons learned from my dogs such as: unconditional love, acceptance, living in the now, non-judgment, forgiveness, play a lot, get your sleep, have a best friend, exercise is good, simple things make us happiest, good listeners never repeat, take naps, show appreciation, be loyal, drink lots of water, protect/guard your loved ones at all costs, nothing is as comforting as sleeping next to someone you love, never pretend to be something you’re not, sometimes a growl is all it takes to get your point across you very rarely have to actually bite, have a goal or purpose, everyone needs to be a clown once in a while ,little things matter a pat on the head or a hug is better than a new collar or toy, nothing is more important than food to eat shelter from the weather and being with those you love, and a true friend is a friend for life .
In memory of Weezer, our special friend, much loved, greatly missed
Mike and Jyl