So, you want a dog…

On television, walking down the street, visiting with friends and family…you see everyone with their furry friends. Their compadres. Their partners in crime and laziness. Their dogs.

Sure, it’s appealing in all the right ways and I can’t blame you for wanting to find a fuzzy creature to call your own. Having a dog is THE BEST…there’s no doubt.

This post isn’t about me convincing you to get a dog, or me telling you how great dog companionship is – I don’t think those two things need telling.

This is about the end.

See, when you get a dog, whether you rescue or pick a specific breed out (either is perfectly fine in my opinion), you sign up for a lot of responsibility.

It’s not just about loving them and giving them a home, it’s compassion, it’s caring for them and taking them to the vet for routine visits but also when they are sick. If I had to guess, our most recent sweet pup, his 14 years of life probably cost me about a years worth of wages. They aren’t cheap. But it is your responsibility to pay for the things they need. Not only food and toys, but dental care and flea meds and everything under the sun.

When you get a dog you sign up for the best kind of inconvenience. Sure, we want to take our dogs everywhere with us but it’s not always possible. So when you vacation you may also spend $300-$800 having them boarded at an acceptable place. It won’t take long for you to realize you won’t trust just anyone with your new found BFF. Matter of fact, I can count on one hand the people I trust with my dog, and I live with one of them.

When you get a dog you sign up for some sleepless nights and some ruined household items or clothing etc. The puppy stage won’t last forever. You also sign up for frustration in training because you want everyone to love your dog as much as you do, that’s a fact.

Those things seem pretty basic. But what you really need to know is you sign up for the hardest compassion in your life. We always want our dogs to live as long as they can and we sign up to make that happen to the best of our ability. The dog’s only fault is their too-short life span. It’s our duty to help make that life span long and as high quality as possible – not to be mistook for long and low quality.

You will be pained but lucky enough to watch your dog get old. You’ll see various basic ailments like gastrointestinal issues, kidney issues, arthritis, and you will do what you can to help ease the pain.

Soon, if you’re “lucky” enough, you will simply manage their ailments as best you can until you are forced to make a decision no dog lover ever wants to make. The last compassionate thing you can do for your fuzzy love muffin.

The decision to send them over the rainbow bridge, to take their forever nap.

This is not for the faint of heart but it is your job. Remember, you signed up for this, you are all these fuzzy babies have and they are counting on you, right till the very end.

Recently I made this decision for our adorable Elvis, my sweet boy. Leading up to the decision was tough. So tough. And I’ve heard a dozen times “they’ll let you know when they are ready”. I thought this was bullshit, frankly. Some nights when Elvis wasn’t sleeping well (and I wasn’t sleeping well) I would cry and ask that he pass peacefully in his sleep so I didn’t have to make this decision. However, making that decision turned out to be the most peaceful way to lose a best friend.

Everything surrounding that decision hurt me to the core. The drive to the vet was the most grueling and longest car ride. In the end, however, I got to hold him in my lap and tell him how much I love him, and ask him to give his big brother Rowdy big hugs for me. I got to be there as he took his very last breath and he went away in my arms. As awful as that sounds, I never ever wanted him to die alone. I wanted to be there with him. It’s tough, no doubt, but it’s better this way.

Being someone who lost two dogs in one year, in two completely different ways, I guarantee – this is the best way. I never wanted Elvis to go, imagining life without him was painful. I feared his death his entire life and I loved him as hard as I could in hopes I could have him around as long as possible. I can say, with certainty, I gave him the best life I knew how, and I know he knew he was loved.

Our other pup, Rowdy, left us too soon and very quickly. He had a heart attack right after he turned 10. The aftermath of losing a dog unexpectedly was a lot harder than making one last compassionate choice. No matter what, it’s hard and awful and I still cry when I think about both of them….but I would rather, any day, have succeeded in giving them a long life, and having them go in the comfort of my arms. That’s what I signed up for 14 years ago with Elvis, though I had no idea.

So, I support you wanting a dog. I love dogs more than people for the most part. Just remember, you’re all they have, and it’s likely you’ll have to outlive them. So, love them every day, treat them like family, care for them proactively, and remember – if you’re lucky, you’ll have to make a decision for them. It sounds like a real crapshoot, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you aren’t ready for that, you might want to think again.

Till next time….peace, hugs, and love your dogs 💓

Some of my many photos of Elvis, and a few of Rowdy Roo too. Miss those boys so much. Music courtesy of Dirty Heads.

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