As you may know (if you’ve been paying attention) that Boris is our 110 lb. Black Lab / English Mastiff cross. He’s ten years old and went blind two years ago.
We’ve been working with him to adapt both him and ourselves to his particular needs. I became his Seeing Eye Human, helping him through his daily routine, which surprisingly didn’t change all that much.
I was looking forward to his final years as a blind dog with me at his side. It was my hope he would stay healthy and active for a few more years.
That was simply not in the cards, but I didn’t expect to lose my dog so soon.
Just over a month ago Boris began experiencing several problems: chronic diarrhea; a lack of energy; loss of strength; and a nagging cough.
Our vet eventually identified the problem as congestive heart failure, which can cause digestive distress along with all the other symptoms he’d been experiencing.
The prognosis was definite: Boris would most certainly suffer a massive heart attack and/or stroke in the coming weeks.
We made the decision to put him down.
The Farewell Tour
We spent the past week taking him and his brother, Beorn, around to various places he liked. It was Boris’ Farewell Tour. He got pancakes, canned dog food (a rarity in this house). We took him to several public events where he received love and affection from total strangers.
Finally, on Wednesday afternoon we took him out for his last meal, which consisted of doggie ice cream and a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
Yes. He ate dessert first.
Late in the afternoon, I took him out into the yard and gave him a hose-down to cool him off (it was in the low 90’s that day). And we sat together in the lawn for the last time.
Losing a Dog – Goodbye, Good Buddy
I confess I was bawling like a baby. In fact, the whole week prior had been exceedingly difficult, filled with empty stares followed by bursts of sadness. I got very little done work-wise, and the house was a total mess.
As we sat in the lawn, the Missus and Beorn joined us. We wanted to spend Boris’s last hour together as a pack. His pack.
At 6:30 the vet arrived. She was very gentle and kind as she performed the necessary act.
As the drug took effect, Boris laid his head down, gently settling into the grass.
And just like that, he was gone.
We thanked the vet and after they left, the Missus and I wrapped Boris in a sheet and carried him to the hole I had dug earlier in the week. There we buried him next to our two previous dogs, Larry and Reggie.
I will eventually erect stone cairns to mark all three graves.
Losing a dog is hard. I’d forgotten exactly how hard.
I’m a mess. Every little action, every part of my daily routine, reminds me that Boris is not here. Bouts of sadness are replaced by wracking sobs, and the rest of the time is spent wondering how I can feel so alone when surrounded by my loving pack (the Missus, Beorn and two annoying cats).
I need to work my way through this somehow. My main outlet is art. I’d try poetry, but we all know how bad I suck at that.
On Wednesday, as we were sitting in the lawn those last minutes, I snapped a photo: Boris’ Last Photo.
Today, I did a painting based on that photo. It’s digital, like most of my paintings these days, but frankly, I was crying so much I should call it a watercolor.
I’ll be doing lots of Boris paintings in the coming weeks, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can look at them and smile, instead of crying like a baby.
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