We put our dog Jeter down today. A cancer had snuck into his life and Dean and I vowed that we wouldn’t let him suffer. So, we kept track of meds, missed meals, and limps that developed, reaching a point where we knew it was time. I hate that point. Like everyone who loves their dog, I wanted ours to live forever.
A compassionate young vet who does nothing but at-home euthanasia, came to our house. As a result, we got to hold Jeter and stroke him while he fell asleep. She administered the first of two shots, and in a few minutes he had fallen into a twilight kind of sleep. As we talked to him, he wagged his tail, still able to hear our voices. Then came the second dose, the one that would mark the end. My husband continued telling him how much we loved him and what a good boy he was. At the very end, when I could feel the life force leaving him, I thanked him for being our dog. And then Jeter sighed. . . a long deep sigh with a bass tone sound to it, like the one he’d make at night when he was letting go of the day and surrendering to sleep. Except this time, he wasn’t surrendering to sleep, he was letting go of life.
I watched Dean and the vet put him on a stretcher and carry him to the van that she’d parked in the driveway. We had a couple more minutes with him. The body that wasn’t him anymore lay tucked in by blankets on the stretcher and I reached out and petted his head one last time before turning away and walking back inside.
Now the house is too damn quiet and it feels like a betrayal to vacuum up the dog hair on the carpet and the floors. I think I’ll wait a few days. An absence fills the space where our dog once lived and we miss him beyond what either of us ever thought missing could be.
Dean and I have cried and wailed. Wept and hung on to each other tight. We’ve gone through the pictures on our phones and talked about him, remembered days on the trail or at a lake. Each photograph reminds me of what good attitude, joy, playfulness, and loyalty looks like.
The bottom line is that our dog, the world’s best dog, loved us unconditionally, without judgement There’s not a dog lover out there who hasn’t entertained the idea for just a moment that in the overall scheme of things, dogs know more about how to be good people than we do.
My heart is broken, but time and the sweetness of memories will mend it. I will always carry Jeter in the perfect little place into which he burrowed when we met. You’re still with me, buddy. And the goofy yellow lab that Dean and I adopted so many years ago turned out to be such a smart choice, one of the best that we ever made. Rest in peace dear Jeter, most faithful of companions, most loyal of friends. You will forever be in our hearts.