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(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Put to sleep

It's a euphemism I detest.  They don't go to sleep -- they die.  But with our little miniature daxie, it was half-true.

We got him when he was a few weeks old, him and his brother.  As a child we'd had daxies, and I remembered them with affection.  We called him Sharptooth and his brother Nimrod (the great hunter from the Bible) but the names were misnomers.  They were very timorous beasties.  It wasn't long before they became Sharpie and Nimbo.

He was a fighter.  Twice he injured his spine by leaping from the sofa when his very favourite person, my lady, came home.  For weeks after that he dragged himself around like a seal, his haunches on the ground, his eyes eager.  But he never gave up, and gradually the use of his spine came back and he could walk again.  We got little dog steps for the sofas and made little steps for him to climb up the steps to the house.  But we still had to watch him, because he'd get so excited when she came home, he'd leap rather than climb down the steps.

She accidentally ran him over (he was so pleased to see her he ran out of the house straight under her car)  The skin was stripped off his stomach and we really thought he was going to die.  But he didn't.  The vet did wonders with a skin graft and Sharpie was a fighter, determined to live.  The vet clearly didn't think he'd make it.  But he did.

Because dachshunds are hounds, not terriers (even though they were bred to hunt badgers -- 'dachs' is German for badger), he had an absurd deep bark, incongruous in a dog his size.  He was greedy, and we had to keep tight control of his diet, or he would have ballooned until he really did look like a sausage.  He was thin-skinned and felt the cold of our high mountain town.  At night he would sleep next to my lady, comforted by her presence, his nose peeping out from under the duvet.

In the end he was almost completely blind and deaf.  If he'd been unhappy, we'd have given him the long green injection then.  But he didn't seem unhappy.  Scent is much more important to dogs than vision is to us.  When my lady came home, even if he was deeply asleep, within 20 seconds of her arrival he would eagerly lift his head, scenting the breeze, and then would leap up to find her.

We knew his time had come when he gave up.  He was in pain -- there may have been cancer or a bowel blockage, who knows? -- and would keep jerking as the pain bit into him.  And he quite clearly gave up.  This great and brave little fighter decided he'd had enough.

The vet was very kind.  We discussed all the options.  But we knew it was time.  We held him in our arms as the vet injected him.   He drifted into sleep.  The last thing he did was to lick his lips.  I suppose his mouth was dry.  A little later, the vet came in and listened for his heart and said quietly, "his heart has stopped."

Fifteen years he shared our lives, loving us without judgement or disdain, wholeheartedly, unreservedly. Dear little dog, perhaps there is a heaven for little dogs, where your people are always home, and food is plentiful, walks frequent, and pain far away.  And perhaps not.  But whatever has happened to your soul, we won't forget, ever.



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