I am writing this post two hours before our family has to put down our dog, Laci. For the past three months, this day has always been just over the horizon, but always avoided and never thought about. I can’t help but cry. What a scene, 51 year-old guy, sniffling and crying over his keyboard, trying to reconcile with words the pain from a dog’s absence.
We got Laci 9 years ago from a breeder an hour or so way. She was a Christmas surprise for our kids, who at the time were 14, 12, 7 & 6. The breeder had four puppies available, three males and a female. That was good because we wanted a male. When the four puppies were put out to play with us, the three males wandered off disinterested. The small female puppy came right up to us sniffed our shoes, gave us a happy look, and wagged her tail. The breeder told us this puppy was an orphan. She was the only female in her small litter and there were complications that resulted in her mother dying shortly after the litter’s birth. This female puppy had been hand fed by the staff until she was old enough to eat on her own. Because they had become so attached to her they had never included her with the other puppies. I figured it was just a sales story and still tried to interact with the male puppies, looking for the right one. After a bit, we told the breeder we needed some time and left.
On the way home, all my wife and I could talk about was the how the male labs were so wild and disinterested. We didn’t know if we wanted any of them. Every time we talked about one of the males, we always drifted back to the pudgey female puppy that was always right next to us, tail wagging. My wife said, what about the female? She was so cute, friendly, and never left our side. Having a female dog had never entered my mind. My whole life I had male dogs. I had a whole stockpile of male lab dog names, Thor, Hank, Ceaser, but none for a female. Then it happened. We came to a stop. The car ahead of us had a license plate that simply read – Laci. My wife gave me a wide-eyed look. Well that does it, she said. I was in complete agreement. We couldn’t go against that karma. We called the breeder immediately and said we would be back next week for the female.
Over the past nine years, Laci has been the best possible companion I could have ever hoped for. There were some definite head scratching times, like the time she ate a number of outside Christmas light bulbs, or the Thanksgiving when she ate two pumpkin pies, or the two days after another Thanksgiving when she drank about a gallon of turkey fryer grease and promptly came inside to throw it all up. She loved to eat, not surprising Thanksgiving was when she did her best work.
The hand full of bad things Laci did were generally pretty funny. As a Lab, she was an abject failure. She didn’t play catch, playing tug the rope was beneath her, and the water was non-starter. She never went swimming, ever. Her Lab card had been revoked long ago, although the occasional deer in the back yard really pissed her off.
About six months ago, I took Laci to the groomer. She noticed a small knot in her throat and said I should take her to the Vet. The Vet is a close friend of ours and had tears in her eyes when she told my wife what was going on. Laci had throat cancer that had spread all over her abdomen. It was a death sentence, no treatment, just a mater of time, maybe until Christmas. For the past seven months she has slowly degraded as the cancer ate her away. Last week, my wife talked to the vet and she said its time. It can’t believe its today.
This afternoon, when I come home, my puppy won’t run to door ecstatic to see me. I won’t get woken up every morning with a dog nose in face because its time for her to eat. Every night when I sink into my chair, she won’t be right next me sleeping. My constant companion, never more than a few feet away who with the wag of her tail made everyone happy, will be gone. She will be remembered and loved by our family forever.
Laci the day we took her home.
Laci in her favorite position.