Yesterday afternoon I said goodbye to my German Shepherd Dog, Barkley. It was tough… and it’s been something I’ve been tormenting myself thinking about for months now.
Barks was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, about six months ago, which often times got mistaken for hip dysplasia. Though because Myelopathy is nerve damage to the spinal chord, thankfully Barks wasn’t in any pain – he couldn’t feel his legs, which in a lot of ways made it that much harder for me to make the decision of weather or not I should put him to sleep.
For those friends of mine who knew Barks – also lovingly referred to as “Big Head” – they could tell you that even though he may not have been the brightest dog in the world, he was definitely the happiest. His personality was the type where I’m convinced that even if he couldn’t walk at all and could only bob his head around, so long as someone was there to roll him a ball or let him play with his squeaky heart, that was sheer bliss for him.
It hurt a lot to have to come to that decision… because I knew that his mind was still working, and he was just as happy and carefree as he’d always been, even at nearly ten years old. His front end worked fine, but as willful and stubborn as he was to get up and move around, his back end would constantly fail on him… His legs would buckle and twist, and he’d drag his knuckles to the point where his claws were worn right down to the quicks, which made them bleed. As happy as he was… when it got to the point where he’d start dragging his legs behind him, or he had trouble getting up and down the stairs, the nerve damage was beginning to affect his digestive, urinary and bowel functions, and he also started losing weight… I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to let him continue to get worse.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a cruel, incurable disease… and I didn’t want it to get to the point where he couldn’t get up anymore. I wanted to remember Barks as the happy dog that he was. Though it broke my heart… because the day I brought him into work… he knew. He just knew. And he was calm, up until the point where we had to sedate him to put his catheter in. Then he got scared, and started to whine and the look he gave me was almost as if he was saying he wasn’t ready to go yet…
I feel guilty in some ways, wondering if I took his life away too soon… Maybe I could have let him hang on for another month or two… but by that time, I don’t think that he would have been the same happy dog. I know that in the end it was for the best, because letting him drag out like that, and worrying every day that he was going to slip and fall and hurt himself severely… that felt so very wrong. His body was telling me that time was running out, even if his mind wasn’t.
But it was still hard… and even after he was gone… I couldn’t comprehend what I was looking at. Seeing him lay there… I expected him to suddenly jump up and be okay again… But he didn’t. I’m very glad that Tim was here for me, and he still is. I don’t think that I could have done that alone. I miss Barks… it’s strange not having him by my feet anymore… He was a very good dog.
I would really like to get his ashes back, as I promised him that when I moved he would come with me, one way or another. I have my heart set on the Petra granite urn, offered by Gateway Pet Memorial Service, though the larger design that can come with up to three tea lights. I would also like to get his name and dates etched into his stone. This will cost me $300.
So I’m just putting it out there to anyone who wanted to get me a Christmas gift this year… I’ve never been one to really want Christmas gifts, especially since I am moving in a few months and have enough junk that I am trying to get rid of. The expense of the move and other bills makes funds for me rather tight at the moment… so if any of my friends wanted to get me an early Christmas gift, I would be extremely grateful if they could instead put money into helping me buy Barkley a nice urn that he deserves. If anyone would like to give a donation, I have resurrected my old PayPal account, and so you can send money to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to all of those who have loved Barkley as much as I did. He will forever be in my heart and memory! *howls!*