I don't know what to do.
Trooper is fading and I can't do anything to stop it. Thin, he's gotten so very thin. He pants heavily when he's not sleeping which is what he mostly does now. He's totally blind. He navigates by memory, which is also going so he gets lost easily both in the yard and in the house. He spends minutes both drinking and peeing. A lot of water passing through his system. His bowels gurgle a lot. I sit or lie on the floor next to him and rub his belly to quiet the rumblings and give him ease. His balance is off. He is lightly incontinent when he sleeps hard.
He still eats. I did have to restrict his treats. We're mostly down to just biscuits but he eats them. It gives me hope. For a minute. Then he lays down again and starts panting. His heart races and he acts like he's struggling to get enough oxygen. He takes his medicine, laying on the floor, his cloudy eyes unseeing but still Trooper's. I move him gently when we're done.
He tries, he tries so hard to be the dog he was but he can't. Not anymore. No matter how hard we both want him to be. Oh, for one more day in the field, romping and playing fetch. One more wrestling match on the living room floor. Barks and tugs and growls of delight and enticement. One more nap on the bed together.
My wife, daughter and I hugged each other and cried as we watched him panting, panting. Hoping but knowing.... Recognizing that we're witnessing the end days of his life. How much time does he have? Days, months?
Trooper was born on November 30, 1995. That makes him almost 14 1/2 years old. I held him in my hand when he was only 5 days old. He was meant for me and I was meant for him. Non dog people will not, can not understand. Dog people are only too aware of the passage of time.
For those who say he's just a dog I say No He Is Not. Trooper has been my constant companion for 14 years. We've never spent more than 2 weeks apart when I had to leave for training or a school. We travelled together. We hunted together. We learned and grew together. He's my pal. He's my dog and I'm his boy. That is out pact. I know that as surely as there is a God that Trooper loves me as I love him. He is my friend, my confessor, my constant companion.
Now he's passing, slowly but surely as a sunset, and I'm crying as I write this. We're going in to see the Vet tomorrow morning if his doctor is available. Monday if he's not. What will I hear? What can my breaking heart take? I'm afraid to take him. Afraid to go. I don't want to lose him.
I won't let Trooper suffer but I also won't end his life one second before I must. Call me selfish. A silly, selfish man. I cannot bear the thought of my empty house. My empty truck. My empty heart.
We're in hospice mode. I watch him carefully. It is my turn now. I am his guide. I take him gently by the collar and lead him to his needs. I sit on the floor with him, stroking his fur and head. Scratching his belly. Watching and listening. Fearful. Knowing. I leave the house only for errands I must perform or a trip to the gym where I try to blot out my fears and tears by driving my body beyond it's limits. I have animal friendly wipes I use to gently clean his fur. I stay near him always. He's calmer and happier when I'm close. That is all I have left to give to him and I will give it to the last.
My sleep is fitful. I stay up til the wee hours when I'm sure he's made his last trip outside for the night. I go to bed only when I must. My dreams are vivid and disturbing.
My grandchildren know what we've told them to try and prepare them for their first leaving. They know that Grandpa is sad and why. They are my sanity now and I thank God they are here.
What price love? Heavy. The price is so very heavy. It is the price of a broken heart. Sadness, denial and dismay. It is a price that nearly cannot be borne.
It is a price that must be paid. It cannot be set aside or passed on to another. It is my debt and I am surely paying it.
I write this now because surely I won't be able to after. Trooper deserves so much more. I was never the man I should have been but it wasn't his fault. He helped me become so much more of a man than I ever would have without him. How will I ever stand it? How can anyone?
I am a bottle in a sack, awaiting the drop of the hammer.