Not that he was much of a runner anymore. He was a bit more than 13 years old, and he blew out his ACLs (or the dog equivalent) last June. While the injury healed, he limped along ever after, struggling with what was probably arthritis (which the vet told us was prone to afflict dogs recovering from ACL tears).
That's not what did him in, however. I did. Which is to say, I had the dog hospital euthanize him. He had been taken there by the kennel, suffering from a pneumonia and laboring, unable to breathe, without assistance. Blood work and diagnostics showed issues with both his kidneys and liver, possibly due to some undetected cancer. I'm certain it didn't help that, of my two dogs, he was always the one that was high strung, a bundle of nerves, prone to fear and not especially comfortable around strange people. When I got to him, it looked like he hadn't slept in a day or more. For an old dog that slept close to 18 hours a day. Which is to say: he looked terrible...and miserable.
The kennel called me Sunday night, to tell me what was going on. Monday morning I was on a flight out of Bozeman. I was able to get to the hospital shortly after 2pm. He was happy to see me. He couldn't get up (too weak), but his breathing became regular even without the oxygen, and he almost immediately went to sleep, finally relaxed. Finally, somewhat, comforted.
He died at 3pm. The next morning I was down at SeaTac by 7am catching a flight back to Bozeman and the rest of my family. We drove to Missoula, where we held an impromptu wake for him at Big Sky Brewery. I limited myself to a couple pints since I was doing the driving.
I'm not writing all this to eulogize my dog: I'm not going to talk about his life, his foibles, or the things that made him special to my family. I'm writing this because I feel its a story I need to recount in order to move forward and write non-dog-related content on this blog.
I'm sure it sounds strange to some that I'd spent so much effort or expense on a dog (hey, what are credit cards for?). He was just a dog, after all...not a spouse or child or parent dying in some hospital bed. But he was someone who'd been more a part of my life, and for whom I'd been responsible, for longer than most human beings I know (hell, my oldest child is only ten)...I couldn't just flush away a life over a phone call. I couldn't just let him die in a box, surrounded by strangers.
My uncle (who is eight years older than me) just lost his wife of 25 years last December to cancer. Because of Covid, he wasn't even able to be with her till the very end. He's only just starting to recover from the experience. I think about how many people lost human loved ones over the last 18-19 months, and who were unable to be with their family and friends because of the pandemic, and it just makes me...so...sad. The immensity of it. One of my wife's friends in Mexico...younger than myself...died of Covid a few months back, leaving behind a wife and a couple kids. He was unable to see them. That. Sucks.
My dog was...well, just a dog. But we loved him. And he was the lesser of our two beagles. If it had been my older dog who'd been in the hospital, our whole family would have driven back to Seattle to be with her. Buddy always had been the low man on the totem pole.
Anyway. Just needed to get that all off my chest.