Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Andy Dies

I hope it was days like this Andy dreamed about on his last night.

Four days after spring break ended (Thursday), I checked my phone and saw my mom had called me early in the morning. I knew from the time of the call alone that it was bad news. Oddly, she didn’t leave a message. (The message showed up a week later.) I called my mom. She was crying as she told me about Andy falling down late Wednesday night and hitting his head on the table. He was blind, swaying his head side to side and could not get up.

I would have come down right then but I had an appointment with my legal writing professor. She is the type that would have had a hissy fit if I had cancelled. If I had asked her to postpone, she would have turned me down citing some war-story about a mean judge. I convinced my mom to wait until Friday to do something. He should have been put down on Thursday but I had to see him one more time.

Late Friday morning, after the appointment, I went back to Raleigh. I brought some roast beef sandwiches. Andy twitched his nose but would not eat any. He looked bad and I had no doubt his time had come. I should have had a vet put him down on Friday but I couldn’t let go. It’s so damned hard.

These last moments were not quality moments. I’d rather have spent my last moments with Andy on a sunny day at the pool, playing and cooking out. I had to take what I could get. Watching him sleeping gave me some comfort. I held on too long. Andy didn’t eat on his last two days and he didn’t drink on his last day. We made an appointment with a mobile vet for late Monday morning.

Andy’s spirit stood strong even though his body was failing him. In his last night, he was dreaming. During the dream, his legs were going through running motions. I hope he was dreaming about fun times he had in his youth such as the days he ran around the front yard playing with Abby, Father, me, tennis balls, frisbies and toys. Maybe he was dreaming about playing in the pool on a summer day. His world was ending and he still thought he was a baby. Only Andy could do something cute while dying.

I wasn’t able to stay at the very end. I had to go to class on Monday and I had to hand in my blue book exam (or what I had completed). I hugged him and said good bye. He went back to sleep. My mom said he was sleeping when he was put to sleep. When I got the news, I was in eastern NC. How fitting that was, I thought, because Pandy and Abby were both from eastern NC when they were puppies.

I made it to school and took care of things. At the end of the day, I went to my carrel and started crying. I couldn’t help it. I don’t like grieving in public, but at that point I didn’t give a shit who saw me. Fortunately, very few people were there because a “Post Blue Book Exam” reception was in the lobby with a keg of beer. No one was around me, but if they were, then they would have thought I was upset over that goddamned exam.

My Baby Boy was gone. He was the one that Beauty smiled upon. I often jokingly thought that when they were handing out looks, Andy went through that line twice. He was also very sweet and smart. Abby will always be special to me but Andy became closer.

I don’t know when I’ll get another dog. I’m busy and dogs do take time. They are not fashion accessories. They need love and attention. A fully grown dog needs at least an hour’s worth of an owner’s attention a day. A puppy needs so much more.

I miss the excitement and joy a Labrador puppy brings to a house. Labs are wonderful dogs. I just wished they lived a little longer. Twelve years isn’t enough. I miss my babies. Fifteen years ago, I made a decision to keep Abby. The decision could have easily gone the other way. I don’t know what my life would have been like without them. If my next generation of Labs are half as good as Abby and Andy, I’ll be thrilled. They set the bar high.

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