When my mom asked me what I was doing on Sunday, my reply was a couple of loads of laundry and to mow the lawn. What I hadn’t planned to do was make the decision to euthanize one of our dogs.
Rowdie was our senior Yorkie. Originally, he was my husband’s dog who lived several years with his parents, and then joined us three years ago. Rowdie was grumpy, and perhaps rightfully so. He had just turned 14. At night, he slept tucked up against my tummy, and if one of us accidently touched him, Rowdie let us know. Loudly. Like his human counterparts getting on in age, he was set in his ways. At times, especially in the mornings, Rowdie’s gait was a bit cautious as if his bones and joints ached a bit. I carried him into the yard to do his business, and sometimes, because he ate slower than the others, fed him meals in the dog stroller. He only had a few teeth, and those he had were not in good shape. Never did I sit on the sofa without my little old man in my lap or cuddled up alongside. When I made my toast in the morning, Rowdie, and two of the others, stood next to me excitedly anticipating the pop of the toaster. I shared a few bites of the toast with them each morning. All in all, he did pretty well, and enjoyed his life to the fullest.
However frail he appeared, his feistiness rose to the surface when the neighbor’s let out their 3 large labs. Rowdie charged the fence and climbed the grass clippings pile to let the labs on the other side of the fence know he was on patrol. No nonsense would be tolerated.
On the evening of August 21, 2021, Rowdie pulled one of his hind legs up tight against his body. Thinking it was a cramp, my husband massaged the leg, and sat with him on the sofa into the wee hours until Rowdie fell asleep. The next morning at 5am, I took them all outside. Rowdie was fine, as far as I could tell. When they were done, we headed back to bed. We got up for the day around 7am. As is my habit, I picked Rowdie up, and set the other 3 on the floor. We went outside again, and I put Rowdie on the ground. Pitifully, he flailed around, unable to stand or right himself. His tiny body contorted, his head pointed in the direction of his backend. I picked him up and raced into the house to get my husband. Dogs can have vestibular issues – temporary dizziness that usually resolves. Clearly, this was not the case. His tongue hung limply from one side of his mouth, one eye drooped – we suspected a stroke. We had been dealing with an infected tooth, one of the few he had left, and just finished a round of antibiotics. Old and frail, the vet didn’t recommend surgery as he likely would not survive.
Were the stroke symptoms linked to the infected tooth? Maybe, maybe not. We will never know for sure. I held Rowdie close. His breathing labored, and whimpering as if in pain, we discussed our options. Our vet wasn’t open as it was Sunday morning, and we couldn’t bear to let an animal who had given us so much love suffer unnecessarily.
It is said dogs give us many wonderful days, and one of the worst – the day we need to say until we meet again. The writing on the wall became clearer. My husband looked for a mobile vet service on the internet. We didn’t want to go to the emergency animal hospital. We had a previous experience with them and were not willing for the cold, sterile, unfamiliar environment to be the site of Rowdie’s last moments on earth.
We believe in providence, Divine intervention, if you will. The first mobile vet service that popped up was for a vet who provided in-home euthanasia. At first glance, it may sound morbid, but morbid it is not. What better way to set our beloved pets free from their suffering than in the comfort of their home surrounded by all things familiar. My husband called and spoke with the vet. She would be over within the next 20 minutes.
Still cradling our precious senior Yorkie, I walked across the yard to the grass pile to give him one last look. The sun shone brightly on his frail body, his eyes tried to focus on me. I wondered if the neighbor dogs would miss Rowdie scolding them from the other side of their fence. I knew I would.
The vet arrived. I was sitting on the sofa holding Rowdie, surrounded by our other 3 Yorkies. He had settled down a bit by now. Not too many minutes prior to her arrival, Rowdie trembled and fought an unknown enemy within his body. The vet sat on the floor next to the sofa and explained the process. She gave us time and when we were ready, the vet injected a sedative. As I held him gently on my lap, we watched as his tiny body relaxed and he appeared to be more comfortable and out of pain. Chardonnay, Tasia, and Kaiah, Rowdie’s fur sisters, sat quietly beside us. Once the sedative had done its job, she injected the cocktail of medications that would stop his heart and free his spunky, spicy spirit to cross the Rainbow Bridge. She told us he would likely pass away before she finished the injection – mercifully, he did. When the time comes for our others to cross the Rainbow Bridge, I pray they can leave us peacefully, in the home where they were cherished, held in the arms of their beloved humans.
The spirit animates the body. Without it, we are no more than a shell that houses the life force of Divine Love. As Rowdie breathed his last, we knew his spirit was freed, his earthly life over, and now his ashes would sit alongside Harley’s and Sammy’s on my bedside stand.
Many cultures believe a window needs to be opened when a body dies to allow the spirit to leave. After Rowdie suffered no longer, my husband opened one of the windows in the room where he breathed his last. We will miss that little old man, we mourn his loss, and know that he was met at the Rainbow Bridge by Harley, Sammy, and Earnie (our best friend’s beloved furry companion). Together they will romp and play, free from the burdens and sufferings of their earthly lives while they wait for us to join them in eternity.
Our hearts are full, and we are richer for being loved by one of God’s greatest creatures. And now, there are three…..