Some may call me heartless, others yet, compassionate. My wife and I like to think we are both very much loving animal people. Having several dogs, cats and other varmints throughout the years, we moved to the the North San Diego County about 15 + years ago and have a small, what we call ‘ranch’, providing a couple of acres for our family to enjoy along with several dogs and cats as part of our family. We have a lot of other wildlife animals that keep us amused and our dogs on edge. Coyotes, gophers, mice and lizards make up only a small population of the wildlife that surrounds us. Our dogs and cats get into plenty of mischief, both inside and outside of the house that makes us wonder if they’ll ever come when called for dinner.
Over the years we have had several animals leave our family, once coming home to an empty house of the cat that had somehow escaped and not returned. The dogs on the other hand have taught us to be vigilant during their youth as they would take off chasing a rabbit or squirrel. A couple hours of walking the hills would always result in them eventually learning to not do that again, as they would just about pass out from dehydration and exhaustion from the summer heat.
We had a couple of dogs pass away over the years while they lived at our home enjoying, what we like to think, a good quality of life. We had one Great Dane pass a couple of years ago one morning while in our arms. Our Julius Caesar was 11 years old. Just one early morning we heard some moaning and that was it; we comforted him during his last moments. The night before he was just fine; old, but fine. At that time we realized that my wife and I now know ‘how to get rid of a body’ as our Julius weighed about 150 lbs.
Just a short 2 years ago we had to put our small-breed mix, Pearl, down after she just looked at us one morning with the look of “I’m done”. She was about 18 years old. Finally just the other day, our other Great Dane died in my arms in the same manner as the other Dane had passed. A couple hours before, our Cleopatra was high-tailing it in to eat her breakfast. Again, a moan as I came in from the street and Cleo died in my arms as I told her it was ok to let go. She was 12. Our Danes lived well beyond their breed’s expectancy of eight years. All of our dogs had long lives; and those still with us are still very much a part of our children’s and grand children’s lives. We always seem to miss the ones passed, as we inadvertently call their names as we go down the list of dogs and kid names when we are calling at them, just like when our children were young.
Each of our dogs’ passings has brought on thoughts of how they lived. We like to think rather well having a large yard to run and chase each other, a ball or even a rabbit. At each of their passings, we were able to say goodby upon their death. That was comforting to all of us, but sometimes that same sentiment was not shared with our kids because of them no longer living in our home. We always seemed to know what to do and what to say. Never easy, but we had to do it.
Just the other day I received yet another card from Veterinary Animal Hospital North County. It reminded us of how much the dogs meant to us. The same sentiment was sent to us on each of our dogs passing as we took their remains or otherwise accompanied them on their final journey. The card really means a lot. The staff at Veterinary Animal Hospital North County takes the time to treat us right, even though we may not seem too sensitive of the loss when dropping off the body . . . since we’ve already said our goodbyes; but a simple card from the office staff makes us feel good again. That’s the way Veterinary Animal Hospital North County makes us feel, as if our animal really is part of our family.