Wednesday afternoon while I was attending a blessingway, my mom called to tell me she was at the vet with our 15-year-old dachshund, Shorty. He had been unwell for a long time, so I knew this call was coming; I just didn't know when. His lungs were filling with fluid and his heart was giving out, and the vet thought it would be best to euthanize. I called Jordan, he left work right away, and we went to be with Shorty.
My mom held him in her arms, wrapped in a blanket. When I came in and touched him, he swung his head around, sniffing to find me, searching with clouded eyes that I'm sure couldn't see anything more than shadows. He probably couldn't hear much either, and he lay there in stark contrast to the jet black, muscular, energetic dog in my memories. But, there at the end in that small, sad room, he was no less beautiful to me. As I sat there petting him, his life flashed before my eyes. Bringing him home, naming him. His near-death experience with a gnawed electrical cord. Rooting under the covers in my bed. Meeting his "wife" Dixie when he was eight or so, and his new lease on life afterwards. Throwing a ball for him to fetch and his unbridled joy in bringing it back, thousands of times. In his prime, seeing him chase a ball all the way to the fence, sometimes rolling and somersaulting to grab it. Near the end, tossing it right at his feet and seeing him lose track of it anyway. He never gave up on his favorite game. Or guarding our house. He was also a great judge of character, and in retrospect I can see that he was always right.
I see clearly now how dogs, like people, are deliberately placed by God into our lives. Shorty was such a gift to us over the past 15 years, in so many ways. I'm so glad we were able to be with him as he left his life on earth behind. I'm so glad we stayed with him to the end, because I think he knows we stayed. He is in heaven now--in my heart, I know he is.
We miss him so much. I know it's much worse for my mom, who has lived with him and cared for him since I went to college, but I've been surprised at how hard it is for me. The first night was bad. It's better now, but Dixie has come to live at our house and sometimes I'll catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Since she is also a dachshund and the same shape as he was, my heart jumps for a second, and then aches. Last night I was eating a bagel and she came to beg for scraps, and my mind involuntarily placed Shorty right there next to her. He always was right there next to her. It's not right to see her alone. It just hurts.
I am thankful for the time and memories we had with him. He wasn't perfect, but he was wonderful. I'll share some of my favorite Shorty stories a little later. Right now, I am comforted by Phibby and Dixie cuddles, and I just keep imagining Shorty running through the yard on his strong little legs, proudly bringing a ball back for us to throw.