In Memory of Prince
The picture above was taken December 23rd, the last moment I had with our dog Prince before we had to put him down.
We knew it had been coming for a while. It started a few months ago. He was becoming an old man, struggling to rise to his feet in the mornings and often losing his footing on the hardwood floors. However, it didn't seem detrimental at the time. As the months progressed, there was a slow decrease in his ability to move around. Soon, he started yelping in pain when nothing that we could see was hurting him. There would literally be nothing within a 20 foot radius of him, and he'd yelp like someone had just stepped on his paws. Finally, in the past couple weeks, he really started struggling to stand, until he could no longer get to his feet at all.
When I arrived home, December 22nd, dad was just letting Prince out to go to the bathroom, and he lay awkwardly on the porch step, like his feet were deformed and he couldn't use them. As I parked my car and hopped out, I instinctively crouched down to call him over, expecting to be greeted with a barrage of excited yips and doggy kisses. However, I was horrified and stunned to find my dog so helpless. We had to carry him down to the grass and steady him as he tried to go potty.
Dad seemed somber as I carried Prince back inside, and he warned me: "I don't know, Linda. We're taking him to the vet tomorrow. Just...don't expect good news."
We knew. We all knew what was coming.
When I carried him into the vet's that next evening, I knew in my heart I would be leaving without him.
It was brief examination, and he gave us a good hunch as to what was causing our dog so much pain. It was probably a tumor in the brain. All the signs added up correctly, and the effects matched up to all of his odd symptoms we'd noticed. This whole time, our dog had silently been struggling through this.
In the end, we knew we'd only be acting selfishly if we fought to prolong his life - it would only be to keep him with us longer, no matter the pain and struggle he would have to go through to stay alive. He was 13 years old, and we'd at least had 8 years of it with him.
As the vet stepped outside to give us a moment, I let the tears I'd been fighting back slip out.
"You did good, Prince. You did real good," I told him.
Those trusting, big brown eyes gazed up at me, worried. He could tell I was hurting, and even in his own pain, he struggled to rise to his feet to lick my tears away, like he had so many times in years past.
Why is it that animals become so deeply engrained in our families? Something about them makes us fall in love with them. We open up our hearts more readily with them than with most humans. And in return, they give us everything they have. They are there for us in a way uniquely their own. They give an example of pure love - despite our flaws and many shortcomings, they still love us.
This post is for Prince, and all of the memories, laughs, tears, and kisses he gave us.