Dogs, they are the greatest pets in the world. They are steady companionship, indiscriminate love, and there for you when no one else is. Sadly, our lifespans are much longer than theirs, and thus decisions have to be made when their quality of life is no longer there. It’s a horrible decision to make. They don’t speak so we can’t know when they are in pain. Even when in pain, they tend to make the best of it. So you have to watch for signs, to determine when is best. Of course we would all love the decision to be out of our hands, that you wake up and it turns out they died in the night. But that rarely happens, and even though medicine is so much better now, is it worth putting them through so much pain just so we can have them around. Its actually seems selfish that we would do that to an animal that loved us even on our darkest days to put them through such pain.
The above picture was taken seven years ago. My friends were always shocked when they would come over at Christmas and look in the family room and just see the entire room filled with big dogs. I am sure there is many over protective mothers who would have had a heart attack to see my four-year-old nephew dancing in the middle of them. Most of the dogs lived in different states, saw each other only a few times a year, and yet none of them fought or bit each other. It was like they new they were part of our larger and crazier family. These were happy times and I will always think back fondly of all our beautiful Bencik Pack.
The other day our dog Jupiter took a turn for the worst, and we were forced to make a decision that I had no interest in making. He had Old Dog Disease(Idiopathic Vestibular Disease) really bad. During the summer he had been paralyzed for close to a week. He eventually gained some mobility, and after a few months we were able to take him on walks. He did improve, but never reached more than 80% of what he was before. He stumbled around for 8 more months before taking another bad turn. He had really bad dementia, was so skinny that people looked at us like we were abusive, and ran into walls all the time. How he did not break every bone in his body is a mystery to me. Our vet felt like there was a lot of neurological things going on, even suggesting that he might have tumors in his brain. So after a lot of deliberation, we decided to put him down. He no longer had a good quality of life, and it seemed cruel just to let him suffer any longer. He lived a great life for 16 years and we were honored to have him as our family pet. Jupiter was the last dog alive in the Bencik Pack.
Being forty now, and an animal lover for so long, I have had to do this more times than I want to remember. In 2008 I had to put my dog Pisco down. Right after the vet put him down, I wrote down the feelings I had from doing such a horrible thing to the dog I loved. I don’t think I could ever capture the raw emotion again, nor put my self through writing about it again, so I have included it below.
Grief is a funny thing. It takes you completely over, and yet you have not real power over it. One moment you are thinking of one thing, and the next your face contorts into some hideous mask and tears just over power you. It brings on anger as well as enormous sadness. Every time you think you have it under control it smashes down on you like a load of bricks.
You might wonder why I am on such a morose topic, and what would bring someone who is generally a happy person to such a state.
Well yesterday I had to put my best friend and dog, Pisco, down. And I have been in a state of grief for the last week over it. Pisco has been partially paralyzed for the last year and a half, and completely paralyzed for the last 4 months or so. I have been helping him with everything he needs, and he was a completely happy dog, who just happened to be paralyzed. He still loved to sing and attempted to his best effort to protect his bones and anything he thought was his from Bourbon and the cats. He still loved to be around people and protected the house from everyone. He was a great dog. It was one of his final blows that he won the dog wars against the upstairs tenants, who moved out the day before he died. He won, it was his house in the end. And I am so glad that it was.
Most everyone who is on this list knows and loves Pisco, so I felt I should put out the announcement and also so I would not have to keep telling everyone. I found Pisco when he was a puppy in Miami Florida, wandering the streets as a stray. He walked into the house and immediately peed on the floor. And since we were hanging out with some Peruvian friends of mine, drinking Pisco sours, it seemed only right to name him Pisco. He made it back with us on that exciting road trip from hell, surviving a skid out on the highway in Ohio due to ice, and a cold night in a freezing van as we waited for the shop to open. He made it through two long term girlfriends, and two very bad breakups, many career changes, and about 5 house renovations, which he hated more than anything else. He loved all the house parties, and had to inspect everyone to make sure they passed muster.
In the end he developed an infection in his blood, the cause is still unknown. The infection nearly killed him, but he actually was fighting it off with the help of U of Penn, but as often happens, new problems arose. A huge patch of skin on his shoulder just died, for no apparent reason. And the vets believed that he had some major internal problems causing all the problem, possibly cancer. We may never know what really did it, but all his skin became paper thin and any slight wound would cause bleeding. I knew he had been through enough, and there was no real cure for him. I could not put him through any more pain, just so I could spend more time with him. As much as I wish he was still here. In the end though, he went out like he came into my life, which I find to be pretty ironic. I was carrying him out to get some sun in his last day, and he did what he so loved to do, and started peeing as I was carrying him out. Living up to his name and leaving my world the way he came in. But he never will be out of the world for me, he has made my life a better and happier place, and he will be a part of me forever.
I loved Pisco more than anything in the world, and I will miss him forever.