My Danny died today.
I think that both EJ and I knew that he would, which is why EJ kept saying that we might have to say goodbye to him. I think he was trying to prepare both himself and me. I cried all this afternoon and in the exam room even before I heard the diagnosis.
Danny was an old dog. Though young, he was an adult dog when we got him from the animal shelter and we couldn’t remember exactly what year we adopted him. We tried to figure it out and guessed he was about 12. The vet said that he was closer to about 14 years old, and that he was developing old age sort of health issues beyond the primary concern that we brought him in for. The vet said that the lump was a nerve cancer. I think he said that it was near or in or involved the nerve–something like that–but everything is now kind of a blur. There was nothing that could be done. I told the vet that I was appalled that we hadn’t found the lump sooner. However, the lump probably grew inside him first before it was visible outside. Danny’s fur was very strange–it was extremely thick and it was almost impossible to even find his actual skin–so the lump was hidden until the hair finally fell off it yesterday. Also, it seemed to be growing very fast at the end. EJ said the lump was much bigger this morning than yesterday, and bigger again when he saw Danny this evening at the veterinary hospital.
I took Danny to the hospital alone, but while the vet was explaining the bad news to me, EJ walked into the exam room. Although the last day of a each month is his company’s busiest day and they work late, his boss is a dog lover and let him leave to be with me and Danny. EJ said he couldn’t bear to not say a final goodbye to Danny. I was glad to have EJ there with me. We cried together. The vet handed us a box of Kleenex.
I thought that the veterinarian I took Danny to last year was very cold. I didn’t like her. In contrast, the staff at the place I took Danny to today were all extremely compassionate. The nurses talked sweetly to Danny and petted him. They got a nice blanket and put it on the floor and EJ and I sat on it next to Danny while he died. The nurses crooned and petted him too as he was dying. They said we could stay with Danny as long as we wanted. They were incredible.
We chose to have the hospital take care of Danny’s body. The major reasons is that I don’t think we could have carried Danny’s heavy body, especially with EJ’s bad back, and we didn’t want the coyotes digging him up if we buried him on our property. Our cat Tesla died last autumn of old age. We buried her and the next Spring when the snow melted, we found an empty hole. We couldn’t bear the thought of that happening to Danny. The staff reassured me that they treat the bodies with great care and respect.
I am heartbroken but I’m relieved that Danny is not suffering. I’m also relieved that the decision to end his life was taken out of my hands. The thought of having to decide whether he lived or died was agonizing to me. EJ said he had been praying that God would let him know definitely when it was time for Danny’s life to end.
I miss my beloved Danny.
I feel very sad.