Sunday, April 1, 2012

Letting Him Go

It was a terrible day yesterday. One that I knew had been coming for a long time, but it still hits you like a mack truck when it happens. We put our sweet Army Dog to sleep. He had never really recovered 100% from his bout with Vestibulitis, and his mobility was getting worse and worse by the week. On Friday and Saturday morning we had to pretty much carry him outside… he didn’t even want to get up off his bed. I didn’t want to be one to make the decision, and I prayed that the Lord would just take him so I wouldn’t have to decide, but when he groaned on Saturday when I tried to move him I knew that his quality of life was pretty much non-existent. We took him in to the vet again and she echoed what we already knew… it was his time.  
I am SOOOO sad. Heartbroken. He was such a good dog. He and I were a family first, and as Brian, Ben, Grace & Noah have joined us he’s welcomed and loved each of them. I remember when he was born into that crazy litter of puppies. It was the Fall of 1998 when our black lab, Max, had gotten out during a storm and come to find out she had taken up shelter with the Catahoula down the street. Fast forward to December and we had a HUGEMONGOUS litter of the cutest puppies EVER.

I think there were 9 or 10 of them. I was away at A&M at the time, but I asked Dad to keep one for me that I could have when I lived off campus the next year. We chose one that had a huge black patch over his eye and I named him Army. It was a good Aggie name – I explained to whoever asked that when he got up in years, I could call him “Old Army”. :)
He moved to College Station with me and we lived in the duplex our Junior year (next door to the Krutz family – where he became fast friends with their sweet yellow lab, Doc). Senior year we lived in a house across from campus with a HUGE yard. My roommate there had a little mutt named Jackson who Army also got along with famously. He really was the sweetest dog – he made friends so easily. He had so many great qualities – he was cuddly, he was calm and well-behaved inside, and he was a smart & willing participant as I practiced for my future as an animal trainer. My favorite behavior that he knew: I would jokingly say, “Shame on you, Army!” and he would cover his eyes with his paws, burying his head between his front legs. He had some not-so-great qualities, too. Well, just one, really. He had the world’s loudest bark and he would demonstrate this whenever something or someone came close to his yard (people he didn’t know, squirrels, falling leaves, etc.) Bark collars did not deter him. If he had a thought to express, he was going to express it. As a result, he did have a few run-ins with the law.
We moved on from College Station to San Antonio in 2001 and he loyally accompanied me during each of my moves: the converted garage, the house in Westover Hills, the apartment in the med center, the duplex that Brian and I rented as newlyweds, and finally to our current house on Kingston Ranch.
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This house is where our family grew and we introduced him to each of our babies. He was never anything but sweet and gentle with each of them. He would stand guard over Ben when we first brought him home. So precious.
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As our kids grew, I think he learned that it might be best to keep his distance a little bit… otherwise he was used as a horse or a pillow or a chew toy. :)

I don’t know what to think about the fact that we’re moving again in a few weeks and this time he won’t be coming with us. Brian said it feels like we’re leaving him behind here, and it’s true, it does. I hate that I won’t have memories of him romping around the new big yard and sleeping under those great oak trees that we’ll have. Ugh, it just sucks.
We were all there with him when the vet did the procedure. I got to hold him and love on him and think about how much he’s given to all of us. Thirteen years and three months… that’s a long time for love to grow. That’s a lot of time to let go of. I know he’s better off now, and that he’s not hurting anymore. I wish I could say the same for us.

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