Saturday, September 13, 2008

And Then There Was One

Yesterday marked the end of Cocoa's life. He was only 9 years old.

Cocoa was never the favorite, privileged one. He spent many years of his life as an Outside Dog, sleeping in the garage at night with several other dogs we owned at the time (who have all since been farmed out to good homes, except for Smokey, who has always been the favorite, privileged one). Cocoa was a country bumpkin, not the smartest one in the bunch. We always said that if dogs wore clothes, Cocoa would wear Big Mac overalls, with the sides unbuttoned. Cocoa never went with us on road trips. Instead, while we took Smokey on trips to the East Coast and the West Coast and all points in between, Cocoa preferred to stay home to guard the fort. The car made him nervous. All he knew was the country life. Even the occasional outing to the vet was filled with quivers and heavy panting, as he faced a world he knew very little about. But he was a lovable dog, a good doctor to his brother and a good protector when he needed to be. Or at least he put on a good front. He never bit anyone, but he growled and barked if a stranger dared walk onto our property. But he liked the rural mail carrier. She always had dog treats for him. And Cocoa loved food. He was big for an Aussie, 100 pounds at one point. The doctor said he was the equivalent of a 400 pound man, but we preferred to think of him as big boned. Even on a restricted diet, he was still about 90 pounds. But they make Big Mac overalls in all sizes.

A couple years ago, when we were down to just two dogs, we cleaned him up and brought him into the house to become an Inside Dog. He quickly adapted to the spoiled life, sleeping on the bed and the couch, and making himself at home wherever he pleased. He tore up several doors and some drywall in the garage scratching to get back in if we inadvertently left him out for too long after that, making it clear that he definitely preferred this to his former life. And who can blame him?

The End happened so suddenly and yet, we somehow knew it was coming. We never really learned what was wrong with him, but he was in serious pain and struggling to hang on to life, curling up in the corners of the house, licking his stomach and legs constantly, straining to go to the bathroom but leaking urine and feces to the point where I had to put him outside all night, on what would become his last night alive...I feel so bad about that...if I'd only known, I would have made him a special place to spend his last night. Poor guy. When we took him to the vet again, for the third Friday in a row, they could only tell us (without running many more expensive tests to possibly confirm what we think we knew) that he was in a lot of pain and wasn't going to get better. I called my husband from work and asked him to talk to the doctor and make a decision about what to do. Ultimately, the decision was made to put him out of his misery rather than bring him home to an uncertain but painful future. My husband said that his eyes were gray instead of the nice golden brown you see in the picture. He had seemingly lost his will to live. It was a very tough decision, but in the end we hope it was the right one.

We'll spread his ashes on our property so he can continue to guard and protect us.

Rest in peace, Cocoa. We'll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge.

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At 8:55 PM, September 13, 2008, OpenID jvjannotti said...

It was the right decision.

So sorry, Gwynne.

At 9:00 PM, September 13, 2008, Blogger Janie said...

Awwwww, Gwynne.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Cocoa was beautiful, inside and out - you can see it in his eyes.

I'll be praying for y'all during your time of loss.

At 11:33 PM, September 13, 2008, Blogger Lynellen said...

I'm so sorry, Gwynne. So many doggies moving on to the next life in my circle of blogs recently. *hugs* I'm praying for your family as you mourn the loss of this family member.

At 7:45 AM, September 14, 2008, Blogger Sisiggy said...

I kinda had a feeling when you didn't post for awhile...I'm so sorry. I'm praying your deluge lets up some. Deeeeeeep breath.

At 10:02 AM, September 14, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Jim, thank you for the affirmation. It helps.

Janie, with your recent loss of Zoie in the prime of her life, my pain can't be as bad as yours. Thank you for your prayers.

Lynellen, isn't that true?! The timing is almost spooky. From the time I started blogging, nearly everyone on my blogroll has experienced a recent loss. So sad.

Thank you, Sisiggy. Your house of 6 dogs reminds me so much of where we were a few years ago when we had 5. Enjoy them while they're young, right? I wish they lived longer.

At 4:11 PM, September 14, 2008, Blogger beth said...

Aww, Gwynne, I'm so sorry. That's so sad.

Lots of hugs.

At 8:01 PM, September 14, 2008, Blogger Library girl said...

Awww. Lots of hugs from me too!

At 2:24 PM, September 15, 2008, Blogger Jen said...

Gwynne, I'm sorry to hear this news. But I'm that Annie's end of life story helped ease the pain of making the decision for Cocoa. It was the right decision. I pray peace and comfort for you.

At 9:44 PM, September 15, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Thank you guys. I appreciate your hugs and prayers.

At 9:31 AM, September 16, 2008, Blogger Eric said...

The good thing about dogs is their seemingly unending supply of unconditional grace and love. I know that you are being harder on yourself than Cocoa would ever have been, and had he known how to do so, he would have asked you to do exactly what you did. All dogs should be so fortunate.

Peace and blessings to you for your tender mercies and tender heart.

At 7:22 AM, September 17, 2008, Blogger Foo said...

I'm positive I posted a comment yesterday. =(

Anyway, I wanted to extend Turtle's and my condolences. It's heart-wrenching having to make a decision like that, but you did the right thing.

At 9:32 AM, September 17, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Eric,you're a kind soul. Thank you.

Foo, I've missed you...glad to see you've surfaced again. Thanks to you and Turtle. :-)

At 10:45 AM, September 17, 2008, Blogger DarkoV said...

Hey Gwynne,
Late to the last dance. So sorry to read of your loss. Ashes have a way of stirring up so if the wind blows just right, maybe a low howl will come across the lawn with a touch of Cocoa for all.


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