Today I went through something that many people have to do during their lifetime, but it was a first for me. I had to put my dog to sleep. He had a cancerous tumor that was growing too quickly and nothing could have been done to save him, especially given his age. He just turned 13 a few weeks ago.
It’s inevitable for any pet owner that someday that pet will not be there, whether by sickness or accident or finding a new home for them, but the loss for any animal lover is never easy.
My dog, Oliver, was a Shih Tzu. As I later came to find out, his temperament was as much a part of his breed as it was just his style. He never met a person he couldn’t bark at. Fiercely protective and scared at the same time, we never had to worry about whether or not someone was around the house, because he made it very well known. In fact, when we would have friends over, Oliver frequently had to be put in a quiet place by himself so he could calm down.
But he wasn’t always like that, of course. He loved to sleep and sit on your lap as much as any good dog, and he was eternally loyal. Those were the best parts, and what he’ll be remembered for the most.
Despite his quick temper, he was actually great with both of my kids, curious and protective from the time they were newborns up until the end. He also got along great with other dogs.
His arch nemesis was the groomer – any groomer. There were a few years where I had to give him a doggy sedative just to get through the grooming process, though he soon built a tolerance to the drugs and they became moot. He eventually learned to live with it, only being moderately a pain by showing his discontent with little nips and growls.
Somehow he had an iron stomach. One time I remember being shocked was when he ate a whole container of chili, turning his face orange for weeks. There was also the time he swallowed part of a corn cob, and another where he ate a box of fudge.
There was a time when he was my travel buddy as I criss-crossed the country for various reasons. He was great as long as the car was going straight on the highway, but in traffic he had to be calmed down because he would see people everywhere in the other cars that he had to bark at. One time he locked me out of the car while it was running and I had to coax him into pushing the unlock button again with his paw to let me in. Another time he set off my car alarm while I was in Starbucks, and I was too far away to hit the button to turn it off, so it just beeped and annoyed everyone while I waited for my coffee.
Oliver had one of the most unique quirks that I’ve ever seen in a dog, the funniest of which was the fact that he would pretty much only drink out of a running faucet. He preferred a bathtub, but sinks would do in a pinch. I’ll come to miss the sound of him jumping in the tub and licking the bottom of the faucet, walking around in circles and peering over the edge to see if someone was coming to turn the water on for him. He always seemed to do it during inopportune times as well, like when I was in the middle of some work, or when we were watching our favorite show.
Yeah, Oliver was quite a character. However, underneath all of his barking aggression, I knew the real him. He was a big softy. I’d like to think he had a good life and that he was happy. I never wanted him to suffer, and I have to believe that I did the right thing before he was in too much pain.
I love you, Buddy, and I’ll never forget you.