Friday, January 31, was one of the most emotional days I can remember having. My heart was ripped open and a large part of my soul spilled out. It started several months ago…
I knew that Mulder, my beloved chow/shepherd mix had hip dysplasia along with other problems in his shoulders, spine, and even his jaw. Yet he never complained. Our first hint of the pain he was experiencing was a couple years ago when he started chewing at his wrist – a sign that pain was radiating down his legs from his shoulders. Then I saw his gait slowly change with stiffness in his back legs. I had to watch him carefully to see it; X-rays confirmed the problems. A couple months ago, I asked the vet for a refill on his pain meds, and she said that he needed to come in for a geriatric workup (he would be 13 in a couple months). It was then that we found a terrible thing: he had a mass on his liver and was nearing the end stage of liver failure.
I spent the next few weeks continually on the brink of tears, but we made sure that he spent every minute knowing that he was cherished. Then on Thursday evening (January 30), I could see in his eyes that the pain had reached the point where the medications weren’t stopping it. The time had come to help end the pain. Euthanasia. I’m sure there are people who think that this was premature, and that I was playing God, but I couldn’t watch him suffer. I felt in my heart – that deep connection that we had – that he was ready, too. He’d been panting continually, and when he rested his head on my lap, his eyes begged me to stop the pain.
On Friday morning, the deed was done. My only regret was that we were not allowed to hold him as he passed. I felt a massive emptiness as I watched him walk away into the clinic’s back room. The heaving sobs overcame me as my best friend left my life. He had been my protector – both from the home invasion (see My Dogs, My Heroes, My Heart for that story) and from the other-worldly invasion (see the Unseen Resident series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
There are those who would look askance at me for rushing right out and getting another puppy, but time alone is not going to heal the gaping hole left by Mulder’s passing. Not just in my heart, but in Bailey’s, too. Janice and I could see that that our corgi was grieving for her companion. I searched the internet for puppy rescues and shelters, foster homes, and private owners. There are a lot of dogs out there who need homes. While there were a few possibilities, none hit me as “must be part of our family!” On Saturday morning, we found a Siberian husky who stole my heart. Yet I was still unsure that this was the right dog. We took him home, but after a few days, we realized that he was not a good fit for our family, and Bailey, especially, was having trouble with him. We brought him back to the Humane Society and continued our search.
Our search for the right companion took us all over the bay area, from north of the Golden Gate to Gilroy and Capitola, and eventually to Lathrop. At Pets N Pals in Lathrop, we found an adorable and very loving Brittany Spaniel mix named Flynn. I was immediately smitten; this time, even Bailey seemed to fall in love.
Flynn will never replace Mulder – no one ever could. I’m sure it’s going to be a very long time before I can think about Mulder and not cry, but Flynn is helping me manage my grief and hasn’t complained about the tears I shed when I hug him.