How do you say good-bye?

We had to put our beloved Boston Terrier, Conan, to sleep last Saturday night.   How do you say good-bye?  It hurts and nothing can heal the pain and heartache except time. And knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my blog.  I was looking at a couple of unfinished drafts the last one dated back in July.  I was going to rephrase it but I think I’ll embed it here to show you how I felt at that time.

Just my opinion but cancer sucks! I lost my Dad to lung cancer a few years ago, my Mom won a fight against breast cancer as did my Aunt Geneva.  I also lost an uncle to cancer when I was very young.  I hate it!

Why am I talking about this you wonder?  Well cancer has come into my life again.  One of our beloved dogs, Conan, was diagnosed with cancer several weeks ago.  It’s taken me this long to be able to sit down and write about what I’m feeling.  My wife and I got married a little over 14 years ago.  We didn’t plan on having kids but both loved dogs so we adopted our two boys, Bucko and Conan, about 12 1/2 years ago.  Obviously they were pups when we got them.  We adopted our girl, Molly, several years later as an adult dog.  Bucko and Molly are Miniature Schnauzers and Conan is a Boston Terrier.

They’ve been part of our lives so long I can’t remember what it was like to not have them.  We’ve had a couple of close calls, mostly with Bucko.  Bladder stones and pancreaitis are nothing to ignore!  Conan was always the healthy one.  A few weeks ago we noticed a bump on the side of his face, right under his eye.  It didn’t seem to bother him so we just kept an eye on it.  We finally took him in to the vet when his eating slowed down.  He’s always been a very good eater.  She noticed a couple of growths in his mouth and suggested we have his teeth cleaned and biopsies done on the growths.  And the biopsies came back cancerous.  Cancer sucks.

Since the diagnosis we’ve adjusted his diet and put him on a low dose pain killer.  He’s at the age where we’re just going to keep him comfortable as long as possible.  No heroic measures, since that would mean a great deal of pain and suffering on his part with little hope of curing him.  We feel we owe it to him to give him the best quality of life over the greatest quantity of life.  The new diet and meds have allowed him to regain his appetite,  his last visit he had gained 3 pounds.  His arthritic shoulder still bothers him but the pain meds seem to have helped and the cancer doesn’t seem to be causing any pain yet.  We know the end will be sooner rather than later but we’re doing our best to not dwell on what’s going to happen.  We’re enjoying what we have now and giving him lots of love and belly rubs.

My wife explained to our son that Conan was sick and wouldn’t really be getting better and that he was going to die and go to heaven.  He “understands”.

And now he’s gone.  His pain slowly got worse resulting in more pain meds every day which made him sleep more.  His poor heart was enlarged and we had just put him on a second heart med trying to relive some of his discomfort.  Some of you may wonder why?  Why would we go through the trouble and expense?  Because he was part of our family.  Anyone who has a heart and is observant and has loved and been loved by a pet, especially a dog, will understand.  He wasn’t just an animal.  He was a thinking, feeling member of our family.

He loved us unconditionally and we loved him back.  He brought a tremendous amount of joy to our lives.  He was our comedian, he loved life and playing and loving everyone he met.  He loved people, especially women.  He could jump over the back of the couch to give kisses to the unsuspecting.   He loved giving big slobbery kisses.  He was so expressive you could easily read his emotions.

He thought it wonderful when we when adopted Molly.  A new family member that he gladly shared his food and water bowl with.  When Gus was born, it was Conan that would lay beside the crib and protect him.  Conan was curious one always checking out the little noisy bundle.  It was Conan that would sit on the bed while we changed diapers and then gently try to kiss him.  Conan hardly ever ran out of kisses.  Even towards the end he could still manage to give small kisses.  He loved belly scratches and playing tug of war.  He loved to destroy squeaky toys and playing with his kong.  He was our little black and white bundle of joy and love and kisses.

It was tough watching him grow old, espeically towards the end as he struggled through everything he was suffering from.  It tore me up inside to know that there was so little I could do except try to make him comfortable and return as much love as I could.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried when we made the decision to call our vet Saturday night.  We could not, in good conscience,  let him continue to suffer.  He started having seizures on Friday night and those were causing him even more pain, suffering and confusion.  We could not continue  to let someone we loved so much and was depending on us to make the right decisions to suffer needlessly.  I cried.

While Collette comforted Conan after his last seizure, I called the vet.  I had a very hard time talking to her.  It was hard to get the words out of my mouth… to make them say ‘it’s time’.  It was unspoken between my wife and I that at least one of us would be with him until the end.  There was absolutely no way we would let him be alone at the end.  No way.  No matter how hard it was.

I carried him into the vet’s office and even though I tried to tough it out I couldn’t keep the tears from my eyes.  I managed to not completely break down as we confirmed out decision and signed the papers.  I held him in my arms and told him how much I love him as tears ran down my face.  My wife and son were there telling him how much they loved him too.   He went to sleep knowing his family was there and loved him.   It was incredibly difficult to walk out of that building Saturday night and leaving behind such a large part of our family.  Knowing that we won’t see him again until this life is over.  There is such a huge hole in my heart from his absence. After we got home and got Gus to bed I went out back and cried some more.

Even now, as I write this, I have tears running down my cheeks.  I miss him.  My heart hurts.  I know Collette and Gus miss him too.  I know Bucko and Molly miss him.  Bucko especially since the two of them were together for, all but a few days,  12 1/2 years.  When we come home Bucko searches for him inside and out.  At bedtime, he looks at me like “where’s Conan? how can we go to bed while he’s missing?”

Conan was part of our family.  He loved us and we loved him.  How do you say good-bye?


About troybates

Husband, father, pilot, photographer, and now blogger.
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