I remember getting Dex in Alaska because his owners were just going to drown him. They didn't want him. He came with us from Alaska to Colorado to Hawaii. He was such an active pup with funny quirks -- always on the move, loving to chase things and hating when I'd dress him up.
He died on January 16th. I'm still sad that I didn't get to see him in his last few years. I cried when I heard he died. I called my parents when I got the news, and was in tears when I taught the rest of my classes that day. My parents took such good care of him. This is the email my dad sent to me the day he died. I miss him so much.
Dex left us peacefully this morning. He hung on for so long, just for us. Despite his suffering, he knew that we wanted for him to stay with us longer. Through it all, he never complained of the pain that he was going through. He never growled at us, as some dogs do when they're dying. He was always gentle and polite, and very dutiful, keeping guard of our land until the very end. Barking to keep away the bad guys. His bark got weaker and weaker as the days wore on.
He died in the service of his master. It all started when he sprang up instinctively when he heard an unexpected sound in his yard. The electric meter reader had come into our yard unannounced, and Dex was on him, snarling and barking like a rabid wolf. Later, I noticed that he was limping. He had hurt his hip when he jumped up too fast for his ancient body.
The limp got worse and worse, until eventually he stopped using his right rear leg completely. Mom worked with him, massaging is leg several times a day, until he let Mom know that it hurt too much to be massaged. He did this in his usual polite manner, either by putting his chin gently on his leg, or by getting up and limping away.
Pain medication seemed to help for a while, and at times we could see that same goofy smile come out that he had as a pup. But then, he was always a pup. We took x-rays and found multiple tumors in his leg, which were spreading to other parts of his body and his lungs. The tumors were probably already there to start, but probably contributed to and were exacerbated by the injury and non-use of his leg. The doctors recommended amputation or euthanasia. This was about six months ago. Another visit about two months ago to a surgery and acupuncture specialist at the animal clinic concluded that nothing could be done. We were just to try to make Dex as comfortable as possible. Dex would let us know when it was his time to go when he stopped eating.
By this time, Dex lost use of his right rear leg. He would just drag it on the ground, and it became a raw and open sore. Mom tried to keep bandaging it, but it always came off. It must have hurt to drag it, raw and open, on the cement and rocks. Dex began eat less and less. Eventually, he would not come to the patio for meals. Instead, he would go to the far end of the yard, and just lie there all day, and all night. The sand was probably easier on his open wounds.
We had to bring food and water down the hill to him, and feed him by holding the dish up to his face. Mom thinks that he was visiting with our neighbor's dog down there, which was chained right on the other side of the fence. It is actually very peaceful and breezy down there. The trees and bushes sway and rustle their leaves in the wind, making a very gentle and soothing sound, almost like ocean waves. I told Mom last night, as we were feeding Dex, "this would be a good place to die."
This morning I went down the hill to feed Dex. He wouldn't look at me. His eyes were mucus-filled, his body was drawn and sunken, and his bad leg was moist and infested with flies. I was reminded of how Blackie looked before we left her to die. She had maggots on her body. Dex wouldn't look at the food held in front of him. Tried water. At first he wouldn't look at the water, but eventually, he began to slurp. The water seemed to pick him up, but he still would not take the food. Mom called the vet to see if we could bring him in for possibly a last consult.
Upon hearing the word, "ride", Dex would normally jump up, ears perked, eye wide and alert, full attention, tail wagging, prancing, and have that big goofy smile on this face. This time, he seemed to perk up a bit, but looked very tired. He could not stand up. He was too weak from not eating much, and a disease-ravaged body. So Mom and I put Dex in a blanket, and lifted him into the wheel barrow. He enjoyed the wheel barrow ride up the hill, and stuck his head up over the front, as he watched the yard go by.
We transferred him into the backseat of the Toyota, all windows down, to give him one last ride to the vet. I followed by truck. Mom said that he seemed to enjoy the ride. He always did.
At the clinic, we carried him into the examination room where the doctor came to look at Dex and discuss our options. We decided that he had suffered enough. He was hanging on just for us. As always, the dutiful, unconditionally loving, forgiving, and loyal companion. All the way to the end.
They gave him an IV painkiller overdose, which put him out in about a minute. It seamed very peaceful, like going to sleep. We were by his side when he left his mortal, diseased body, which will be cremated by the Humane Society. I can now hear him barking his head off and chasing angels like he did in his prime, creating terror and havoc in that eternal realm.
Let's all remember and share our memories of Dex in his prime. For that is how he is now and forever.