We had to say goodbye to our dear dog Clyde last week. For the past three weeks or so he hasn’t been doing so well – losing weight and coughing/sneezing blood. When I first took him to the vet with those symptoms, we learned that he had an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure. The vet said his heart condition could be managed with medication, but was concerned about the bleeding from the nose because that could mean cancer.
Of course I opted to try the medication first to see if that would help, but sadly it didn’t. He kept losing weight – two pounds in one week even though he was eating regularly – and the bleeding didn’t stop.
I told the kids in the morning that I was taking him to the vet that afternoon and they should say goodbyes to him. My 7-year-old followed him around for a few minutes, recording a video on his tablet.
The vet and the staff at the Phoenix Mountain Animal Hospital were incredibly kind and explained the process to me and gave me lots of time alone with him before the final procedure. I was in a room with a couch in it and they provide me with treats for him in case he wanted them – he did, even the dry Milkbone treats that he didn’t usually like – and a bowl of water. He was even catching them in his mouth as I threw them.
When I was as ready as I could be, the incredibly kind Dr. Jason Kanarish lifted Clyde on the couch next to me and I gently laid Clyde’s head on my lap. He didn’t even try lifting his head, he just rested it there. “He looks like he’s ready,” the vet said and I thanked him for saying that, knowing that he didn’t just mean for the procedure, but that it was the right time to say goodbye.
The vet had prepared me for what was next – two shots of saline and then the drug that would end his life. It was like Clyde was just sleeping on my lap like he had so many times in the past 14 years. The vet asked if I wanted a little more time and I said yes. When I was alone, Clyde’s body let out three puffs of air, like he was taking a deep breath (The vet warned me that might happen) and I expected him to raise his head and look around. I told him I loved him, thanked him for being such a good dog and apologized for never being able to give him a big backyard to run around in.
Then the vet returned and gently lifted Clyde’s head so I could stand up and he gingerly put a blanket over Clyde’s body – but not over his head – so it looked like he was just sleeping there.
I took off Clyde’s collar and left the office with that and the leash in my hand, but no dog.
Ron picked the kids up from school and took them to all their after-school activities so I could take care of this. I went home and started looking through old pictures to make this tribute video:
There were lots of tears that night and the following morning. My 9-year-old drew a picture and asked for Clyde’s dog tags from his collar so he could put them on his school backpack. He told me this morning that when he moved his backpack, he could hear Clyde when he heard the dog tags clanking off each other. My 11-year- old said he had a dream about Clyde, with Clyde telling him he was OK, but then thought he heard Clyde downstairs. I still expect to Clyde waiting for us when we enter our home, but only the empty house greets us.
The boys’ teachers have been incredible. My second-grader’s teacher showed the class the tribute video and the children drew pictures and cards.
My fifth-grader’s teacher also showed his class the video and asked him if he wanted to write about his favorite memories and share them with the class. He did and it ended up being a class discussion about pets. My fourth-grader’s teacher was out after having surgery so she wasn’t able to do anything, but he seems to be adjusting fine. His drawing is below.
Rest in peace, dear Clyde.
Such a thoughtful card from our vet: