You may recall reading my posts about our three old dogs. The first one, in May 2021, introduced you to 15-year olds Emmit and Riley, 17-year old Kody, and Jelly Bean the cat. Emmit died shortly after that post. Then in August, we said goodbye to Kody.
Fast forward one year, and the last of the old dogs has joined his brothers over the bridge. It was a gut-wrenching decision. Riley had been with me since he was about six weeks old and had just turned 16 in May of this year. I have been watching him extra closely lately, knowing his days were numbered. Until very recently he had remained sharp, eaten well, and always showed up at the back door for walk time. He was slower, more tentative, but his hip problem seemed to have resolved and in May when he went in for his check up the vet proclaimed him in remarkably good health.
But suddenly that changed. His back legs frequently gave out on him and recently he tumbled off the ramp to the sofa four times in one day. He seemed disoriented, walking into corners and staring at the wall as if to say, “Where the heck am I?” I decided I needed to call the vet.
She saw us immediately, crouching down to examine Riley, he standing on the floor, me sitting beside him. She gently examined him, felt his body, listened to his heart. She took her time, even though I had quite suddenly intruded on her daily appointments. She sat down next to me and we talked. Riley wad dehydrated, his esophagus was inflamed, his liver enlarged.
“We can treat him,” she said. “It might help.”
But the relief would be temporary. The boy was old. His body was wearing out.
To me, it comes down to quality of life. Sure, I could “fix” him. But would extending his life for a few weeks bring him joy or suffering? We sat on the floor of the examining room. The vet looked at me. I looked at her. We both looked at Riley. It was time.
Minutes later, Riley and I sat on a colorful blanket they’d brought for his comfort. I held his head in my lap and petted him, long, gentle strokes from head to tail. I love you Riley. I can’t say it out loud but he knows.
And then he was gone.
We dedicate ourselves to our four-footed friends. They depend on us for food and warmth and safety. But we depend on them too. They give us comfort, love us without judgment, and never let us down. He was my constant companion for more than sixteen years, and I will miss hiim dearly.