The woman in the vet's office was probably in her mid to late sixties, and in a real hurry. She'd just come in "real quick" to get flea medicine for her cat Fluffy - I kid you not, that was it's actual name. She was complaining of leg pain. She'd injured it the other day going out to get her mail. Pulled a ligament probably, when she'd stepped down off the step. She informed me of all of this as I sat looking out the window of the waiting room with my three week old baby. I was not in the mood to talk but she persisted.
The secretary had to go back and ask the veterinarian something about the flea medicine and since he was currently occupied, the older lady had to wait. "Oh COME ON," she sighed. "I hope she doesn't take forever...I have things to do today!"
Just then, I got a text from my husband, "He's gone." My eyes filled with tears and I looked down at the floor. The older lady sighed heavily again. "What on Earth are they doing back there?"
At the moment, I wanted nothing more than to jump up and yell, "I'm sorry, they're a little busy back there because MY DOG IS DYING. I think your precious flea medicine can wait." Of course, I'd never say that. I'm postpartum and emotional. She didn't know what we were there for. Maybe if she did, she wouldn't have said those things. Or maybe she would have. Because to some, the death of an animal is no big deal. There's always another animal, right? There's tons at the shelter that need adopted. It's not like a person - your brother or sister, a mother, or child. And in a way, that's true I suppose. But sometimes it's more than that. It is for us, anyway.
We didn't have him a huge amount of time but what time we did have with Woody was very special to us. He came to live with us on December 9th (just two short months ago) when we adopted him from the local animal shelter. He was an older Shepherd/Shar-pei mix who'd been found wandering around town, hurt. We'd been talking over getting a pet for awhile and when we saw him on Pet Finder, his description seemed perfect for our growing family - gentle, friendly, loves people, and was already trained.
The kids and I stopped by to visit Woody at the animal shelter and I was greatly impressed with how calm and friendly he was. When we got home, I told my husband and we went and got him that evening. He came home with us, happy as a clam. My oldest son informed me that since his name was Woody his full name must be Woodrow - Woodrow James in fact! We also called him Woodard. He did have some anxiety when we would leave to go to church or run errands and he had some accidents here and there but otherwise he settled in with our family just like he was another kid.
He wasn't just another kid though - he was also a little mother hen. He always wanted to be where "the people" were. He'd lay down in the middle of the room, where everyone would have to step over him, so he wasn't left out. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had a furry friend that followed me into each room as I tucked each of the kids in at night. He slept at the foot of my bed and even nosed his way into the bathroom to sit at my feet until I was done.
Our new baby was born January 17th and Woody happily accepted him. Perhaps he thought he and the kids were all my puppies. We will be hard pressed to ever find another dog as tolerant and as friendly with our children as he was. He loved going out for walks, he snuggled with the kids on the floor, and being petted was to him - pure bliss. I take solace in knowing that even though he was only with us for a short period of time, at least he got to spend it happily. He was loved greatly by three children, spent Christmas with us, rang in the New Year, watched the Superbowl, and got to welcome a new baby.
Several weeks ago, Woody started going downhill. He was a dog who liked to nap but he was even more sleepy than normal. He started to lose weight rapidly and began eating less and less. He got weak and didn't want to go for walks. We took him to the vet once and they thought perhaps he had a stomach virus or bug of some kind. We gave him his medicine but he continued to get worse. He was in pain, he'd lost more weight, we were having to almost hand feed him and he didn't even want to drink water. He could hardly climb into the van when we took him again back to the vet's office.
At the vet, the prognosis was not good. We found out that Woody had a massive growth/tumor of some kind in his upper stomach. The vet told us it was probably a cancerous mass of some kind and that although we could do blood work or possibly surgery, due to how rapidly things had progressed and his age, he might not even survive surgery and we would almost definitely end up having to have him put to sleep in the very near future. We talked it over and made the hard decision. We decided not to put him through any more pain than he was already in. My husband spent his final moments with him and he went very peacefully.
There are little reminders all over my house that have been breaking my heart since we got home yesterday - the dog bowl with some food in it still, the leash on the counter, a blanket on the floor that he slept on last night, the container of dog treats on the counter. My postpartum hormones are a big factor but I'm also genuinely sad to lose such a sweet, kind dog. However, I keep trying to remind myself that he's no longer in any pain.
Rest easy, Woodrow James. You will be missed.