Tuesday, October 4, 2016
My wife and I were in the process of unloading our moving truck in to our apartment in North Carolina with the help of some of her new coworkers who were kind enough to come help us. I'd never met them before that day and, in fact, didn't know a single person there when we moved. So boxes were piling up around the small apartment as we were trying to figure out where things needed to go.
But in the corner, hiding out and trying to adjust was our dog, Wrigley. We'd had her for about three years before we moved and she made the six hour trip in her crate in the front seat like a champ. When we got to our new place, she ran inside, ran around looking and smelling her new home and after being content with where she was, she found a corner of the apartment, plopped down and basically watched as we unpacked.
As it turned out, our new apartment was directly across the street from a five-mile walking and bike path around a lake. Since I was a stay-at-home dad during our time in North Carolina and money was tight, so we didn't exactly go out all that much, that walking path became my escape. When my wife would get home, I'd turn on a podcast, take Wrigley and we'd walk. Not the entire way, mind you, but we'd walk a mile or so each day. She'd stop to smell the bushes or bark at the ducks or most often, just pull me along.
It wasn't only my escape, but it was her's too. She was excited to get out and even though we often went the same way and saw the same things, she was always pulling me, wanting to go faster and stretching her leash as long as it would go. She loved those walks we got and while there were certainly times I didn't want to go, she would be at the door wanting to go, so we went.
I thought about those walks yesterday as we were talking to the vet in preparation to put her down. We moved to North Carolina about seven years ago and as with all of us, time marches forward, taking it's toll. Since we'd been back in Georgia about four years ago, Wrigley had developed some pretty bad allergies that, honestly, were too expensive for us to treat to the full extent. We'd give her Benadryl when it got really bad and changed her diet to try to alleviate some of the discomfort.
As she got older, she stopped wanting to go for walks as much. There was a time I could just show her the leash and she'd run to the door. But as time went by, the enthusiasm she had for those walks became less and less. Over time I would show her the leash and she'd just look up at me and then lay her head back on her pillow. She was tired and didn't want to go anymore.
A few weeks ago, while I was out, my wife and son were going to go for a bike ride around the neighborhood. Much to her surprise, Wrigley wanted to go for a walk, so she took her for a short walk down to the end of the street and back. It was her last walk around the neighborhood.
She'd started eating less and was having trouble moving around. The vet said she had one tumor that was visible and from the color of her eyes, likely had others that was causing internal issues. After a brief conversation with my wife, we figured it was the most humane thing to do to put her out of her pain and suffering.
We picked my son up from school and with all of us in tears, went to the vet to say goodbye to Wrigley. Our son hasn't known life without her as she was a part of our life even before he was. After he was born, Wrigley was extremely protective of him, barking at any men who walked in the house, including my dad and uncle. Women, for whatever reason, she had no issues with, but she did not like men to come around him when he was born. Eventually she realized that if we let a person in the house, they must be ok.
After we went in to say our goodbyes in the exam room, the vet asked if I wanted to be in there with her when they performed the procedure. I'd gone back and forth on that and at the time, didn't want to be there. Now, however, I wonder if I made a mistake in not being there. As we were leaving, she looked so nervous, but I don't know if that's because she always is at the vet's office or if she knew what was about to happen.
But I'll choose to remember her not like that, but as the enthusiastic dog who wanted to go for a walk every afternoon around the lake. That's the fun, loving, affectionate dog I want to keep in my memory.