Well, so much for that new update schedule, huh?
As you all can see, there wasn’t an update post on Wednesday and there isn’t one for today (Friday) either. The reason that is is because last Friday, I took our 15 year old Mastiff in for a follow-up checkup to the vet. He had been suffering with back hip arthritis for a long time but the various medications he was on was helping him cope. But lately, he started to exhibit some pretty significant neurological problems big dogs like him usually suffer from.
After a real long discussion with the vet about “quality of life” and even more discussion with my wife, we made the very, very difficult choice to say good bye to our big, lovable gentle giant of a friend this past Wednesday night. If any of you are friends with me on Facebook, perhaps you have been reading some of the posts I have been making about Bruno – our big, gentle giant. But, for those of you that have not read or seen any of those Facebook posts, Bruno was originally my father in-law’s dog. But, for whatever reason, me and that big ol’ goofball really connected and bonded with each other even though we only saw each other a few times each year when we visited my wife’s folks or when they visited us. Sadly though, my mother in-law grew ill and left Bruno to keep my pop (I always called my father in-law “pop”) company. A couple of years later though, pop grew ill. He fought like dickens but I guess he just missed his wife so much… and maybe it was just a little bit easier saying good bye to all of his kids, grandkids and relatives knowing my wife and I had long ago agreed that we would take Bruno in should anything happen to him.
Pop knew Bruno and I had a weird bond… knew that I had such great love and affection for his dog…
I have had many animals in my life. My mom and dad are notorious cat and dog people so throughout my life, I have always been surrounded by animals and I have felt heart ache every time one of them reached their life span and I had to say good-bye to them. In my younger years, I never went to the vet with my parents to experience any of out pet’s final journey. It was only as an married adult that I actually had to experience first hand what it felt like to have to say good bye to a furry family member. And even though I have had to go through the experience three previous times, Wednesday night was by far the absolute toughest and most heart wrenching.
Some of the pain and heart ache I was feeling leading up to Wednesday was a feeling like I was letting my Pop down… that I was “killing” his dog… and that I some how failed in taking care of Bruno. Some of it was knowing I was never going to be able to wrestle with him as I used to do. Or fight to try and pull a tennis ball (or two) out of his big, slobbering mouth. I think one of the reasons why we had such a great bond was I was the only one that was physically strong enough to wrestle and playfully fight with him and I was going to miss that terribly even though, in reality, he had ceased being interested in tennis balls or any kind of rough housing months ago. For the longest time, in his twilight years, he was simply content to lumber around our backyard and just “be”. Or, maybe in reality, it was the only thing he really had strength to do any more.
Depending on the particular breed of Mastiffs, it’s pretty rare for them to live long into their double digit years. Most Mastiffs his size usually only live in their single digits… 7, 8 or 9 years. Bruno was 15. That’s one hell of a life for a large dog – no matter what the breed is. And, the truth of the matter is if it was left up to me and me alone, I probably would have done everything in my power to get him to 16 years or longer BUT that was mostly because I was being extremely selfish, denying the truth and petrified of having to go through what we went through Wednesday night. My wife saw his daily decline whereas I always saw the “good Bruno” who had been on various medications all day and looked like he was only having a “little bit” of trouble to get around the house or walk outside. I really didn’t want to acknowledge his neurological problems… the constant tripping on little things in the house, the constant falling down, the tilting head when he tried to eat, the inability to poop. When that happens, one really must face reality and reality hit me hard.
I really, really thought he had more gas in his tank but after the long holiday weekend and spending huge amounts of time with him, I finally saw what my wife was seeing. I also started to feel more for Bruno than for myself. Being such a proud dog, it was painful to watch him be confused and almost panicky when he leaned too far back or tipped sideways and couldn’t get back up by himself. Or hear him with a slow, deep whine just standing out in the yard because he was either in so much pain or was in so much mental confusion. Or watching as he’d lumber into our bedroom, circle around and around and around his bed until he plopped down and laid there unmoving for the rest of the night and sometimes till late morning. That was not OUR Bruno. Not really. He was just a dog that was trying to hang on… probably mostly for us but when I finally REALLY saw and experienced how much pain and confusion he showed at times, I knew it was time. I knew he had had a fantastic run and it was time to let him go so he could go back and be with his original owners that were probably missing him just as much as we were trying to hold on to him.
I don’t regret or have any second guesses about whether or not we did the right thing for Bruno. I’m just so terribly sad that I had to say good-bye to my big ol’ “bud”.