It’s been a rough month, Tripaw family. We let our sweet, amazing Buddy go Thursday, May 24. Our hearts hurt but know he is finally free, running and playing in God’s backyard.
Buddy’s becoming a part of our family was no less amazing. Our son found him while walking the wooded path one day but in reality, I think he found us. He blessed our lives for 16 long years. He was a tripaw for nearly three of those years.
As part of our healing process, we’ve been reminiscing about him a lot. Oh the stories! In the early puppy years he would escape out the front door with us running after him, armed with hot dogs as bribe material to come back. My youngest son joked that upon his entry to heaven the angels were all probably running around with hot dogs as well. He was a master at catching tennis balls bounced off our garage roof and was a champion at chasing squirrels and chipmunks. In his older years he would lay on bed while we watched TV. We got some old DVD’s of the Carol Burnett show sometime after Christmas. Anytime the theme music of Carol Burnett would start playing, he would get up on his 3 legs and leave the room. When his backs legs weren’t working well anymore, he’d thump his remaining front leg on the ground while laying in his bed and glare at us. Then he’d start scooting around in his bed to make sure we knew of his displeasure in our selection of TV watching for the night. He didn’t care very much for American Idol either.
He had been slowing down quite a bit in the last few months, leaving us questioning, what is quality of life? We read a lot of articles and talked to a lot of friends, because we didn’t want to miss any of the signs. We checked in with our vet from time to time as well.
What I learned about quality of life is that it really is different for each family and not any one article, nor advice from friends is going to give you the answer. Buddy was stoic, brave, determined, and strong when it came to challenges and pain, which made him a really hard read. I had suspected he had a strong will to live for us. Something that our vet had reiterated in a conversation we had via text messaging. Everyday we would say, well, he’s eating, sleeping, pooping and peeing. But the reality was, everyday, he was doing that all for us.
Buddy had torn his ACL in October 2017. Our hope was that it would heal on its own and get better. For awhile it looked like it would heal, but then it never did. Old age and the fact that he was a front leg tripaw worked steadily against him. He needed 100% help from us everyday to get outside. The last six weeks or so he needed 100% help in holding him up to potty outside. His last weekend with us, he had a bad bout of diarrhea. This is exceptionally hard given the fact that he couldn’t get up on his own anymore. And so we found him Saturday morning shaking and laying in his own waste. We cleaned him all up and texted the vet. Luckily she was able to call in a prescription which worked almost immediately. As usual with diarrhea, he got a UTI. So I texted the vet Monday and asked for a new script for his UTI and I explained what his days were like as of late. He eats, sleeps, pee’s and poops outside and only takes pleasure in treats and short periods of sunshine. I told her we were struggling again with the question of quality of life and I asked her what was her best advice for us.
She wrote back the answers that I think I knew deep down inside but really needed to hear. She said that deep in her heart she felt that a dog should be able to walk. Initially they are ok with us helping them to move, but over time it wears on them. He hadn’t been able to act like a dog since his ACL tear. She also suspected that he was in a lot more pain than what we realized while lying on his bed. She said to not underestimate his wanting to live for us. Given all this it would be completely acceptable to let him go.
She also said that as a family we needed to decide if this was the right decision for him and to put ourselves in his place and try to decide if the good times warrant the bad. Waiting for him to get worse is perhaps not the right thing. Waiting might make the decision easier, but maybe that’s not good for him and his quality of life. I put my head down and sobbed because I knew she was right and I knew it was time. I sent our grown children and my husband the message. We all agreed, it was time and that he had had enough. We texted her the next day to arrange for her to come to the house later in the week. From that moment on his health went into a steady decline down hill. He started sleeping from 7am until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. He started hesitating to eat and it became crystal clear how much pain he was in every time we took him to potty outside. He was ready and just waiting for us. He was fighting for us. I am telling you, he loved us that much. We spoiled him as much as we could the day before. He enjoyed one last time smiling in the sun and ate lots of chicken treats. We gave him lots of kisses and stroked his scarred, beautiful auburn and white fur. Our vet came the next morning. She took one look at him when she walked in the door and said, “ Oh, Tracie. I promise you it’s time.” I can not tell you how much I needed to hear that. And she cried with us.
Thank you for being such a warrior sweet boy. You are now healed from your pain, running, jumping, playing and eating to your hearts content. We miss your sweet brown eyes, your beautiful smile, your love of the sunshine and your unconditional love for us. We thank God you are finally free. We miss you every single day. Hugs, ear rubs, belly rubs and kisses. Mom, Dad, Matthew, Lindsey and Alex.