A week ago, we had to say goodbye to our dog, Koko.
Koko was almost 15 years old and had been with us since he was around 8 months old. He was a survivor, of heart issues, bladder stones, cancer, and a scary breathing episode.
When we first welcomed our Japanese Chin, Koko, into our home, he used to wait behind a wall to pounce on my youngest son, trying to determine his order in the pack and whether he could dominate the youngest member. Needless to say, that didn’t work, but he quickly settled into our pack, protecting us with his “big-boy bark” whenever we went out. Other than that, he wasn’t much of a barker, waiting patiently by the door for someone to notice him and let him out. In the last few months of his life, though, he suddenly discovered his bark, barking at my son’s closed door hoping he would come out to dispense treats and also just barking for joy when out on his walks.
His favourite things were treats and lying on his strategically-placed cushions and blankets on all the couches. If we had placed a cushion against the back of the couch rather than lying it flat, he would look back and forth between us and the cushion until we satisfied his wishes. Funny boy.
He also loved laundry day, when piles of clothes belonging to his family would magically appear on the floor as a new sleeping spot.
He stared at me lovingly (no, actually just wanting more treats!) on an ongoing basis. And now and then, he would deign to have his head or chest or back stroked. And curl himself up against me on a cushion while I watched TV.
Over the last several months, he had begun to lose weight and become finicky about his food, while still enjoying himself. We tried various different diets recommended by the vet, but he really hated the food he was supposed to have for his bladder stones and his apparent early kidney disease. We had a cupboard full of treats to tempt him, but over his final week, he began to refuse more things, finally stopping eating in the last couple of days of his life. He could no longer enjoy his treats and was too weak to jump up onto the couches to lie on his cushions. We took him to the emergency hospital, where they gave him anti-nausea meds, but it still didn’t help. It became scarier, and we checked him in for more tests. In the end, there was no option but to arrange for a peaceful exit.
We were able to be with him at the end, stroking his head and saying all the pet names and phrases he was used to hearing from us. I could see that the vet was also making him feel secure, especially when I found that she had been calling him “monkey”, which was one of my pet names for him. It was very peaceful, as we had hoped, and I was glad we were able to be there for him. Afterwards, we went out and ate beef and drank a toast in honour of our little guy.
I keep thinking of these words from Allison Russell:
Go in peace, Be not afraid Roll 'em easy, Namaste All you sad and broken travellers, Come on