In Memory of My Best Friend


We had the most wonderful dog in the world. It's been 2 years since he died, but I still think of him almost every day. I wrote about it at the time of his death, but shared with only a few people. I'm reposting it now.

Rusty was lethargic today and had been increasingly off his food. We were unable to coax him to get up and go outside. He had an accident while lying on his bed. His expression seemed to say it was humiliating to soil himself and couldn’t we see that it was time? When Charley got home from school today, the three of us talked and agreed it was. He no longer had the strength or will to enjoy life.

It was around 7 PM when he died.

Emergencies delayed Dr. Kelly and his assistant Gail. When they arrived, we talked about what had been happening with Rusty — his decline, increasing seizures (2 last week), almost daily incontinence, loss of appetite, inability to stand or walk, and the faraway look in his eyes. They were kind and compassionate and let us spend as much time as we needed to say goodbye. It was very sad for all of us. When the time came, Dr. Kelly injected Rusty's hind right leg with a sedative that put him to sleep, then eased him into death. David stayed nearby, comforting him while he received the injection, and Charley and I stroked him until he stopped breathing. After a few minutes, Dr. Kelly listened to Rusty's heart and confirmed that he was gone.

Afterward, Dr. Kelly went out to prepare their car which was parked in the driveway, and I walked outside with Gail for a moment. When I went back into the kitchen, Charley was kneeling beside Rusty and wiping tears from his eyes. I don't think he wanted us to see him cry. We tried to close Rusty's eyes, but they stayed partly open. Dr. Kelly and Gail wrapped Rusty in a blanket, then David and Dr. Kelly carried him to their car. While Rusty laid on the blanket, we each gave him one last goodbye.

We asked them to let us know when Rusty's cremated remains would be available for us. We want to keep them until Andrew comes home -- or possibly forever. We thanked them for their willingness to come to our home, sparing Rusty the feeling of fear he would have experienced in his last moments had we taken him to Elliott Bay Animal Hospital to be euthanized. We shook hands with Gail and hugged Dr. Kelly, then said goodbye. I watched them back down the driveway knowing the body of our beloved friend was leaving forever.

And what an unforgettable, loving, wonderful, smart and noble friend he was. I want to remember his soft ears and his fur that never seemed to shed, his random white toes, the white blaze on his chest and the black-tipped tail. I want to remember what it felt like to wrap my arms around his neck and deep chest -- the smell of his head, his beautiful, expressive brown eyes. I want to remember how smart he was, figuring out things in a most human-like manner. And I want to remember how funny he was and how he could make everyone laugh. There will never be another like him.

It felt sad during dinner. David, Charley and I toasted him. We told Rusty stories that both warmed the heart and brought tears to my eyes. After dinner it felt strange to not feed him or walk him. After 14 years, there is a huge emptiness.

Rusty, aka Rusty the wonderdog, Googie, Roosty, Big Dog, Great Big, Great Big Dog (said with a Scottish accent) Dog that I love, Rusticulosis, Rustica, Silly old dog who looks like a log, Sill pill, and many other names of affection that somehow never confused him, who entered our lives for Andrew's 10th birthday (September 1993), gently departed from our lives October 1, 2007. We miss him terribly.



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