fare thee well

at the dog park, 2021

Comet has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. With many tears, and lots of caresses, the old man went to sleep a final time, at home, surrounded by his family. For the last six years, since we rescued him from the shelter, this greyhound and shepherd mix has been my blogging muse – a gentle, good-natured member of the family. While his “step-brother”, Dexter has been aging much slower for his twelve years, perhaps Comet was a couple years his senior.

For the last eight months, after bouncing back from a brief Christmas illness, and then a diagnosis of arthritis and inflammation in his back legs, our walks became shorter and less frequent. For the last few months, Gabapentin eased the arthritic pain, but in the last month he ceased putting weight on his back paw. We consulted the vet by phone only two weeks ago as to when we should plan for the “responsible thing”.

freshly groomed, 2018

Yet Comet still wanted to be actively with us. Up almost to the last week, he still wanted to accompany Dexter on a walk around the neighborhood. His appetite was very small though he was still eager; he enjoyed a daily spoon of peanut butter (with his pills) and we fed him cooked chicken and bits of cheese. If a dog could be described as brave, he was, as he gave little indication that his time was drawing near. He slipped on Thursday in the bathroom, and spent most of the next day, Friday, sleepy from anti-inflammatory and pain-relief medication. At midnight, when he could put no weight on either back leg, we fashioned a sling to support him outside while he relieved himself.

who will take me home? (December, 2016)

The service we called this morning sent a veterinarian to our home. This kind, compassionate man, disclosed that Comet’s suffering was worsened by a large tumor on his hip that I had mistaken last week for muscle tissue (his arthritic leg had wasted away in the last months). As a veterinarian, he said that aging dogs can get any number of ailments like arthritis, but that greyhounds were also at risk of developing tumors.

We take comfort this evening in knowing Comet’s pain is no more. Some might think that he is running joyfully through Elysian Fields in another plane. But we know, he had enough of life on the street before we brought him home. He’s resting comfortably, on large pillows, with plenty of dog biscuits, peanut butter and other treats, and in air conditioning where angels keep his room a constant 72 degrees.

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.

Will Rogers, humorist, d. 1935


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