This may be a bit of a ramble but to all of you who have been to the Overland Expo shows and met my constant companions, I had to make the impossible decision to put my young Golden Retriever to sleep.
If you were at the booths at any of the shows from Arizona to North Carolina and everywhere in between, she was the first to greet you with a wagging tail. The day we returned from the Seattle RV show last month, she stopped eating. I saw the x-rays showing the masses in her lymph nodes at the local vet. The following day, and a couple hundred miles later, the specialist confirmed the nasty aggressive T-cell lymphoma.
We made the long drives to Washington State University Pet Hospital for chemo treatments for three weeks and she made a great turn around, turning into her old self, just wanting to go for walks on the ranch and play fetch. I was so happy to have her back and thought we would have at least one more long road trip to Overland West in the camper. Then over a few hours one night she started breathing much too fast and was obviously in distress. I already made the decision that if she had more bad days than good, and did not find joy in just the daily routine of being a dog, I would not let her suffer, as much as I wanted her with me longer.
Not much after, we were back at WSU, the cancer was in her lungs and no surgery would stop it. It did not matter how much more money I spent there was nothing that would give her any quality of life.
We went for a last short walk up the hill over WSU looking over the rolling hills of the Palouse and laid down in the grass with her sister as the sun went down in a brilliant display. I got to scratch her head and rub her belly one last time. I’m a grown man, my last career was a constant display of the worst in society with violent death and murder on a routine basis to include close friends being killed by the animals our politicians refuse to lock up and I always tried to stay composed but here I am balling on a windy hill with my dog. I know these are our last moments together and there is nothing I can do stop her pain. She looked at me and this may not make sense to those who have not bonded with an animal but she let me know it was ok to let go and it was time to stop her hurting.
I had to carry her back down as even the oxygen was not helping her anymore. I held her in my arms and rubbed her with a cool washcloth as Dr. Lewis gave the injection. There was no wincing; if anything I think there was just some relief. Within 30 seconds my girl was still and Dr. Lewis gave me the room as long as I wanted it. I stayed with her for a few minutes just wanting to hold her forever but she was not there. One thing was certain was she was not in pain anymore and I knew I did what I had to do for her.
I know many of you in the RV and Overland community travel with your dogs and know the bond I am talking about. My girls are the happiest in the Jeep on dirt roads, from the deserts to the mountains looking for what comes next around the bend, just hoping for the next body of water they can jump into. These creatures ask nothing of us but companionship but give us so much more. In my case my dogs kept my will to live going in the worst part of my life, it makes the loss so much worse.
Her sister refused to leave her side and lay next to her every night when she was not feeling great. She seems as depressed as me but we still take long walks and she is slowly getting back to being a happy dog. If anyone is going through this and wants to chat feel free to give me a call. I was not sure about putting this on my business site and not sure if anyone even reads these but so many of us have these great animals and this time comes far too early. Maybe it will help others with the difficult decisions. My thanks to Dr. Lewis who was a great and compassionate veterinary oncologist at WSU, what a great hospital and staff.
Goodbye my tough loyal girl...