It is so amazingly strange to be without a dog at our feet. We lost Tucker, very unexpectedly, just before Thanksgiving. With all of the busy-ness in our lives, I still haven’t had time to process the loss, and my eyes still well up with tears when I think of him.
Folks asked if he missed Gypsy, and to be honest, we hadn’t noticed a huge change in his behavior, but maybe it was all too much for him, and he gave up heart. Maybe it was destined to happen with or without her. It could be totally unrelated. Only a higher power knows.
We booked a cruise over Thanksgiving, because we could! We wanted to celebrate a big anniversary in a special way, so found a free period of time and made the arrangements. Our neighbor’s daughter and son-in-law lost everything in Hurricane Ian, and were thrilled to have a home to call their own for 10 days. They adored our dogs, so were thrilled to take care of Tucker. We met the day before we left to go over all of the particulars: where is the dog food kept, how much do we feed him, how often do we give him medication, etc.
In the morning we woke early and began the last minute craziness of getting ready to leave for the cruise. Tucker lay next to our bed, conveniently/inconveniently sprawled in the path to the bathroom. We stepped over him as we hustled from closet to suitcase, grabbing things to pack. In hindsight, his stillness was totally uncharacteristic. In the past, just bringing out a suitcase would have induced pacing and panting. A bit later he moved to his spot in the living room. Mr. Dreamy made his breakfast, but Tucker was disinterested. Not unusual given the commotion of packing. A bit later I grabbed his leash so we could at least go for a walk before out departure to drive to Ft Lauderdale to board the ship. Tucker struggled to stand, I had to assist him as he got to his hind feet - this had never happened before. I also realized that Tucker was wet, he had lost bladder control. As I stepped out, he tried to follow, but his hind legs wouldn’t cooperate and he knuckled under. Both Mr.Dreamy and I looked at Tucker, and at each other, in disbelief and horror! How could this have happened? What happened? What are we going to do?
Our vet lives down the street from us, and was on her way to the office when I called. We were able to lift Tucker into the back of my car to transport him to the Vet’s office. He was able to wobble inside, but his stance, with shuddering front legs and an awkward posture, showed how difficult this was, and just how much pain he was experiencing. Our vet came into the exam room, and after an exam turned to us with tears in her eyes. Yes, she said, sometimes disc injuries happen and impact movement in this manner, and perhaps with several weeks of medication and special care, he might be OK. But, realistically, this didn’t seem to be the case. She felt there might be some sort of mass in his abdomen, as palpating that area resulted in pain reactions. She felt that given his age, 12 1/2, and given his size, and given previous spinal injuries (Pippin bit him on the back, and he was always sensitive in the area), perhaps the most humane thing to do was to euthanize him. We nodded our assent, and held him, and loved him as he took his final sleep.
I have to admit I still suffer some (a lot of) guilt about our decision. We had a cruise ship to board. We didn’t have a lot of time. However, our vet called us later in the day to let us know that it was evident that Tucker had a massive tumor, most likely a hemangiosarcoma that had burst, impacting his spine. I talked with her a few weeks later, I guess I just needed to hear again that we made the right decision, even though it hurts and doesn’t feel right.
We have had a crazy schedule since we lost our dogs. We are on our way back to our Florida home after the cruise, a few days at home, a visit to Las Vegas, and a few weeks, including Christmas, at our new condo in CA. Once we get home, I will have the opportunity to deal with my loss. But I know I will still have that “oh my God, I need to walk the dogs reaction in the morning, after coffee, and in the evening. I’ll have to borrow dogs from our neighbors!