Who could have known that I would be giving my old boy his last breakfast that day! I had noticed a marked decline in Luika’s health and he was undoubtedly slipping into dementia, so much so, that now we worried about allowing him alone time with our three rescue cats, when only last year, their relationship was mutual respect and harmony.
The day started like any other, but as it progressed I noticed that my old boy was reluctant to leave the comfort of his bed. Even when the biscuit tin was rattled. When finally he did open his eyes, they seemed dim, almost like the light was diminishing. He suddenly looked like a little old man and my heart sank, as I knew the time was coming for me to make the choice that all pet owners dread.
I ate a small lunch and for the first time, did not have to wave Luika back to his bed. Despite his training, we never did break that ‘please give me some’ look at feeding time. He just wanted to sleep.
Mid-afternoon and he suddenly sprang to his feet and lunged at our youngest cat, who was over in the far corner of the lounge. It was terrifying and completely unprovoked. The attack seemed to last for minutes, when in fact it could only have been seconds and I knew immediately that I needed expert advice. This was not the Luika I knew.
The appointment was at 6 pm and the drive to surgery was done in a complete haze. I had made that journey so many times since it was next to our local shop, yet I remember nothing.
Luika struggled to get out of the car and needed my support into the surgery. When the door closed behind us, I knew that he would not be coming home.
Our Last Cuddle
Luika’s dislike of the vet seemed to summon his strength and he had to be muzzled.
For a brief moment, I had hoped this may be a sign that he would be coming home. I cradled him in my arms to stop his struggle and looked into his eyes that were sunken and gaunt. It was just like the life was already leaving him and the vet’s examination confirmed that his body and heart were closing down.
I held him tightly and while the injection went into his leg. with uncontrollable tears, I promised him that he would soon be free of his pain. I thanked him for all the wonderful years that we had shared and as I felt the life leave his body, I knew that I had made the right decision. He was gone, and a part of me went with him.
The vet and nurse left the room, leaving us time together. Our time, just Luika and me. I sobbed of course, for Luika and for all the other dogs that I had loved and lost and when I eventually left the room, I felt utterly bereft.
Driving home I remembered our first training class together. I had already taught him the basics, so the down stay and sit was a doddle and we came away with three ribbons and a puppy bone.
I remember my frustration at him constantly emptying our bin. We tried every make and model, but he still mastered the lids and within minutes was tucking into its contents.
I recalled him romping in the garden with our three cats and teaching our eldest cat to bark. Yes, she actually barks, all be it cat-like. They would sit together waiting for the postman before the morning chorus began!
I relived his whole life in that twenty-minute journey home and wept inconsolably on my return.
This is the last kind act we can do for our pets. Knowing that we can stop their suffering. It is a decision that will be inevitably wracked with guilt, but I try to take comfort in knowing that he is in a better place. I just hope that he is behaving himself up there in heaven and not leading others astray. I also hope that God has those waste bins firmly closed, or my Luika will have the contents out within seconds and a feast will be had by all.