I lost out on my nap today due to a death in the family. My husband's childhood dog died this morning, about 10 am; he was a 14-year-old lab-chow mix. He'd been suffering for the last 1-2 weeks: shortness of breath, heavy breathing, and other signs of impending heart failure. My husband's mom called last night, asking what she should do. We said to have him put down. She said she couldn't do that. I'm glad that nature made the decision for her, otherwise Bear might still be suffering due to her selfishness and fears.
He was 14-years-old, lived a long, good life. For the most part, he was a great, obedient dog. He lived with us for a couple of years, and I had never felt safer! He was protective, intelligent, and well trained. He saved my BFF from a sexual predator once upon a time. You could leave a plate of food on the floor and he wouldn't touch it unless you told him. He was a good dog. Simple as that. I'm glad that I got to know that side of him. I loved younger Bear. Still do.
As he got older, the Chow-Chow in him began to rear its ugly head more and more. For some reason, he started to challenge me more often. I have a very low tolerance for disobedience when it comes to dogs. I have a very pack oriented mindset, it's how I was raised and how I was taught to think when it came to training dogs. What would an alpha wolf do? They'd discipline and banish, if it came to it, said beta. That's what happened when Bear challenged my position as alpha. On the night we brought my first son home, he got between me and my newborn and snapped at me, completely unprovoked. If my son wasn't present, I would've broken our dogs neck. Zero tolerance. He's a dog, he's not a child. He has a dog's mind, not a humans (although sometimes, i wondered).
Within the week, Bear was returned to my husband's mom. I wanted nothing to do with him. Couldn't trust him anymore.
After this old dog had snapped and bitten a couple of the kids, unprovoked, instead of having him put down, they kept him around because he was a good dog. The family felt that they owed it to him to let him live out his days with them, completely ignoring the problem. I was focused on the kids and their safety. They were focused on his last years.
What? Whatever. However if he had ever bit my child, I'd kill his ass without even thinking twice about it. And I'd sue the party responsible for seeing the problem and not doing anything about it sooner. I don't fuck around when it comes to my children.
I disconnected from Bear after he challenged me. I didn't feel safe, especially with my son present. There was only one time where Bear was around my son, but it was brief. Bear spent most of that visit outside. I showed him very little attention, despite that he craved it. He was practically dead to me.
Fast forwarding, even though I didn't like Bear anymore, he still didn't deserve to suffer as long as he did. But it's done. I was told over over phone, but it didn't impact me because I was expecting it....and to be honest, I don't have that same connection that I once did, you know? I still tried to be sympathetic to hubby and his family, because Bear still meant a lot to them. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, so it was hard not to sound indifferent. Especially when hubby sacrificed my much needed nap time to dispose of Bear's body with his brother (originally, Bear belonged to his younger brother; his brother watched as Bear killed over. Seemed fitting, to be honest, Bear was his dog. He should've been there when Bear passed on.). I was fine with him going over there--he needed to say his goodbyes. However, didn't realize that it meant that I wasn't going to get a much needed break from our toddler and newborn.
To me, he's just a dog. To them, he's family. Nap time sacrificed, I kept my annoyance to myself, for the most part, because my husband was hurting. But overall, I don't really care. I'm glad that he's no longer suffering, but you know, I just don't care. I lost respect for that dog when he got between me and my son. When he viciously challenged my position as Alpha. I wanted him put down then, but my husband and his mom fought me on it.
Whatever, they got him his last years. Shame, his last years were spent around an annoying bitch (she-dog) and an abusive toddler (my nephew). But he had a backyard--where he died. Bear loved being outside. I'm glad that he died out in the yard, alone with his original owner. I'm glad that my husband also got to say his goodbyes, and that the brothers took Bear's body to the humane society together. It was something they needed.
So nap sacrificed. Confession admitted. Although I didn't agree with many of their choices, and am glad that none of the kids were seriously injured, Bear's no longer miserable or suffering. I'll place a picture of the Bear that I loved on our Ancestral Shrine, along with Wilbur, Hugs, Sneaky, Blitzer, Siam, Brutus, Ares, Plague, Kelli, Sheba, and Gracie. I'll honor those memories, instead of ugly last couple of years, because overall, he was a fantastic dog. The second best dog that I've had; the best dog in my husband's life. He does deserve to be remembered as the great dog he was, not the grump he became.
By K. Wren (Mar 2011)
(also posted on Scorched Ice)