Henry Hound, January 24, 1999 - January 12, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to leave Mr. Henry in the embrace of family and head off for my adventure secure in the knowledge that he was well-cared for, safe and loved. Then I would return and he would be a bit greyer and creakier, but generally sound and happy and overjoyed to see me. But you know what they say about the best laid plans, and cancer sucks for dogs just like it sucks for people.

Instead of that idyllic scenario, yesterday I bundled my poor, skinny, sick hound up in one of his old blankets and rode with him out to the vet where I said goodbye to him for the last time.

I almost did it on Friday, but I guess I just wasn't ready. I feel kind of bad about that because though he didn't seem to be in obvious pain, it was clear he wasn't comfortable either, but I made him stay for those extra few days anyways. I guess I wanted to have a bit more time with him, though I knew it really wouldn't make any difference. It's not like I could spoil him with all his favourite treats - he hadn't eaten in a week and refused everything except the occasional bit of water (though he did lick out my rice pudding bowl!). There wasn't much point in taking him for a walk either. He was weak, and it was cold out, and he seemed to take no joy in it. Mostly he seemed to want to lay in his kennel, or on the couch, so I spent a lot of time sitting nearby, petting him and talking to him and wishing he could understand. I apologized for things I didn't do and could have, and for things I shouldn't have done and did, and most of all for not being able to fix this horrible thing. And I told him over and over again that he was a good boy.

I know I gave him a good life; he even came with me to work most days, which is something most dogs can only dream of. In many ways, he didn't know how good he had it. And I guess I didn't know how good I had it either, except I always kind of felt like he was a better dog than I deserved. I am haunted by all the walks not taken, and treats not given and plates not licked and chins not scratched. It stings when I remember every harsh word and every sharp tug on the leash and every time I thought he was annoying or smelly or inconvenient. And I'm haunted by the fun times we had together too. Not really the big things, but the little habits and rituals that make up the majority of life. Even though it was -20°, I wanted to go out and sit on the step so that he would come and stick his nose under my arm to make me pet him.

By Monday morning, though, he was so tired and worn out and just done that I felt bad I'd made the appointment at the vet for 3:30pm instead of 9:30am. And it was over so fast - it sounds cliché, but it really was just like he went to sleep. It seemed strange to think that he was really gone. Even now it still hasn't really sunk in I think. It will take a while.

So if you're a pet owner (and God, why do any of us do it when this is how it ends?), please give your beast an extra hug or two today, and cut them a bit of slack the next time they do something that makes your blood boil. Because believe me when I say that no matter how long it lasts, it will still be over too soon.

I miss you buddy. You're my best hound.

Henry's first baby picture.

12 Comments:

Gillian said...

Pam, I'm so sorry. I hope your memories of him bring you joy in the coming weeks.

Laura said...

Pam, I'm so sorry too. You sure did have a special little guy.

Tim Shel said...

I've never known a more civil hound. It hurts so badly when I lose a good dog.
Hugs to you.

Mitch said...

Our thoughts are with you, and Titus (the beagle) is getting a little extra loving. Beautifully written.

John T said...

I'm so sorry Pam. I'm typing through tears. Henry had a great life. We'll all miss him. Lots of love and hugs
John T

Jill said...

I'm so sorry Pam. Henry Hound was a wonderful boy and he will most definitely be missed.

Phonella said...

A heartfelt tribute to a great dog.

I'll remember the words you've written here for a long long time.

Anonymous said...

Ah Pam. I just found your blog and am so sorry to hear bout Henry...

Although I never met him, how could you not love a hound ;(

You gave him a pretty wonderful life by the sounds of things...

Hugs.. Tracy

Anonymous said...

Pam
I'm sorry to hear about Henry Hound. He has a great master, and you should be proud.... I read your words with tears in my eyes. I think people take a pets life for granted, unlike someone like you, whom treated them as a human.
Yes Cancer is terrible no matter weather it is our pet, or human friends.
My prayers and thoughts are with you.
Mouse

Sonia said...

Your post made me cry like a baby. I'm so sorry for your loss, I cannot even imagine how hard it must be to say good bye to your best friend. I'm going to be extra nice with Rocky today. A little more treats.

I'm sure Henry is not suffering where he is.

eme said...

I am sorry for your loss. Henry had a good life.

Wendy said...

So I know all of this because of loosing our girls about a year ago, but it still hurts. Love the baby picture and miss Henry. Claire asks about him a lot still too. Ironically she said to Don a while ago...."We have Dogs...Casey and Cedar.....(preganant pause)...I'm not sure where they are though" Anyway, I like that she remembers them. Talk to you soon, love to the hound and you.

Wendy

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