Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Yesterday was a first for me. You tend to think that when it comes to the things of life, surely I've been there...done that, and I have. I don't even know how many funerals I've been to or presided over. The only folks who've done more are the funeral home folks. But yesterday after literally months of contemplating and agonizing, we took our dog Frazier, 17 years a part of our family to our friend and vet Dr. Larry and had him put to sleep. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision. He'd been struggling for a long time. His quality of life was really, really poor.
For me, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. We laughed with Dr Larry about how Fraz got run over the first few days after we had picked him up outside the Houston SPCA. The kids were young and we had lost our former American Eskimo dog King after a good long life and well...it was time for another dog. We couldn't afford to buy a designer dog of any sort so we trekked down to see what dogs were available at the Houston SPCA. About the time we were being greeted by the receptionist a young couple came in with this 6 month old schnauzer dog in tow, they couldn't keep in their apartment. We struck up a brief conversation with them, told the young lady behind the counter, "we want this dog." But that's not the way it works so she quietly instructed us that we'd have to take it all outside, arrange the transfer between ourselves and so we did. For like 75 bucks we did the deal outside, loaded up 3 very happy kids, (parents too) and headed home with Frazier, his cage, his bed, and his food bowl.
His favorite thing early on was to bolt out the door, and make a break for it just as fast as he possibly could go. Within just a day or two of bringing him home he made that break, ran outside and headed straight for the street, only to be rolled under an oncoming car. That was our first call to Dr Larry. He rolled under the car and thankfully not the tires which flattened out his hips pretty badly but he recovered. For the rest of his life he would sit on the floor with his hips spread totally flat and back legs pointing out like he'd been run over or something.
A few years later we had moved to a house just a few blocks over and were cooking one Thanksgiving day. Kim ventured out into the back yard, with Fraz, and saw the neighbor across the fence in her back yard. Why not go meet the neighbor? Sounds good. They met at the back fence and so did the two opposing dogs, whereby Frazier defended Kim and proceded to attack the neighbors dog through the chain link fence. He managed somehow to get ahold of the neighbors dogs paw and chew on it so bad that they had to call Dr Larry out on Thanksgiving day for a repair job. We never did get close with those neighbors after that, I'm not sure why.
There were so many other joys of having a good natured dog like Frazier. I don't recall him ever biting anybody else but the neighbors dog and me! Yeah me, good natured me. Even in the patient room yesterday as we waited even though he hadn't felt well for months, couldn't see, struggled to walk, and flinched everytime I put my hand on his head, we briefly played one last time. I would tap the side of his mouth, he would open his mouth and lightly snap...tap...snap... tap...snap. It was something we did his whole life. A couple of times over the years he snapped a little too much but he never really bit anybody but me...and maybe Jared but never any children or strangers.
He was always great around kids, of all ages. A couple of our grown children's friends wrote yesterday on FB about things they recalled and about life with our dog Frazier. He loved popcorn and people food though we didn't give him much of the people food, just as Dr L said. He liked grapes, watermelon, and bread...boy he loved bread. For years if you left the loaf of bread near the edge of the counter and he could see it was there, he'd jump up, grab the loaf of bread and have at it. I never did see him do it but found the half eaten loaf on the floor countless times. Oh yeah, no people food. He survived a cancerous growth on his foot not too many years ago, thanks to you know who. He gave us great joy and sorrow. He was without a doubt, part of our family. And because of how much he was a part of our lives...our childrens lives...our friends lives...yesterday... man...that hurt...it still does. I cried like a baby and I don't cry.
The doggie door is closed today at our house and won't be opened again for awhile. I'm sure I'll continue to look and listen for him for quite some time...and miss him. For all those who have experienced such a loss, I know you know. Thanks Fraz for being a part of our family. With such an enjoyable relationship as they can be, surely, all dogs go to heaven, don't you think?
Thanks for listening,