I did it.
After a year of thinking the time was around the corner, it has arrived promptly on our door step.
I called the vet and made the appointment.
We enter Phase II of family life the afternoon of May 13th; life with only a fish for a pet, assuming the fish lives that long too. Confused? See the previous post.
Tasha's health has been rapidly deteroriating for some time. She does not hear well any more - a result of the her ongoing struggle with ear infections that never totally go away. Her bad thyroid seems to be no longer staying under control with medication. We could mess a bit with her dosage yet that still only fixes a fraction of her health problems. Although we've not been able to do the formal testing, the vet is 99% sure she has Cushing Disease also - a problem with her pituitary gland. She also has some sort of blockage (most likely a tumor) in her nose that causes her to struggle with breathing at night (We've nicknamed her Darth Dog for a reason) and to have this really gross discharge out of her nose when she gets excited or has been exerting any energy beyond stalking children for food. She also has a degree of arthritis that makes it difficult for her to get up and move after she's been down. . . and yet with the breathing that's all she does all. Night. Long. Up and down the hallway trying to find a place to be comfortable, which just seems near impossible for her now.
She's getting snappy. Not at the kids and not yet where she's bitten someone, but it could happen - which has motivated the spouse to finally agree with me. It is time.
I called the vet this morning. I held it together fairly well while working out the arrangements. Then I hung up the phone and cried - hiding in my hallway hoping to be done with the water works before the kids came searching. When Tasha is gone we'll grieve openly but at almost-4 years old and 19 months, we're not prepared to explain to the kids now that the dog has an appointment with death.
This has been harder than I expected. I expected hard. I did not expect this hard. She was our first major purchase together - we brought her home within weeks of getting engaged. When we didn't think we'd have children she was there to fill a void as best she could. We spoiled her. We took her everywhere we could.
Things changed some when the kids did arrive. Tasha's place in the pecking order slipped with each child entering mobile ranks. Someone else to scold her for stealing food. Someone else to shush her when she howled for another treat. Someone else to let her out and to chase her down for some good grooming. Someone else to hug her and pet her.
I know this will be harder on us than on them. Bruce and I remember the days of puppyhood and energy. We remember when she'd play for hours - now she sleeps for hours. We remember when she'd walk for miles. Now she's lucky to go out and when she does, she's laying on a lawn and panting after a block.
The kids will miss her. They'll notice the hole left by her passing. They will grieve and then they will go on. Logan has handled the death of my uncle well. We shared our beliefs with him and he's used that as a source of comfort. He talks about Uncle M being in Heaven. He will include Uncle M as he talks about the people he loves and who loves him. "He's in Heaven but he still loves me," the wise little man says. "He's happy there because he doesn't hurt now and he doesn't need his wheelchair," he adds as an almost after thought. I don't recall us actually ever telling him that. I think we said when my uncle died, he'd not hurt any longer. Logan has understood the concept and developed it further.
He'll be ok with his pet's death also. I know this. I know he'll image his dog feeling frisky and lively. He'll tell us about how Uncle M and Tasha play catch. He'll be fine.
I might not be. He will.
We could have done this sooner. Yet sooner just didn't seem right. This weekend is Bruce's first one home after the long trip. I didn't want to mar what the kids have been looking forward to - two full days of DADDY! The next weekend may have been fine and yet the one after that just seemed better. Logan has his sleepover that weekend. He won't even be home until dinner time on Saturday. We can leave the house for the vet without him seeing the dog leave. He won't have to try to figure that one out - how she leaves ok and never comes back.
He won't be home. He'll come home and he'll learn she's gone. We'll remind him she was sick. We'll tell him she died. We won't have to say how.
He was forking over the dog treats this afternoon much to the dog's delight. I told him she appreciated it.
"You know," I began, thinking we ought to start laying some groundwork. "Tasha may not be with us much longer." I choked back a tear or two.
"I know," he said as he reached to pet her head. "She's very old and she's very sick. I'll miss her but it'll be ok."
And unknowingly he made me feel a little better about it all. We'll miss her but at least she'll be ok. It'll be ok. We'll be ok.