And Now This…

There is no easy way to write this….we had to put my dog down yesterday. Yes, in the midst of fighting cancer, and my brother losing his leg, we had to make the hard decision to put Roux (pronounced Roo) down. It hurt something awful.

Roux came to us because I decided we needed another dog. It was an emotional decision. At that point in our lives, we only had Sophie. She is a dachshund, who for the first few years we had her, acted like I didn’t exist. The only thing I was good for was feeding her and throwing the ball. So, I wanted my own dog. img_0748

This is how we met Roux. She was a rescue dog. I fell in love with her when I saw her picture on a website. The angle of the shot made it appear like she was smiling. Almost every picture we have of her from early on she is doing the same thing. Looking up at the camera and appearing to smile. That’s the way I will always remember her. She was all heart and always smiling.

Roux had been picked up somewhere in Lousiana. That’s where she got her name. Roux is the most important ingredient in Gumbo. Our sweet little girl did the same for our family, she became the part that completed us for awhile. Just like Gumbo, we weren’t the same without her.

She wasn’t the perfect dog. She had a lot of quirks. Some of them were sweet, but others were absolutely annoying.

Take for instance her smell. It did not matter how often we bathed her. One trip outside and she stank. We think she had a pore issue. Whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant. She also was hyper-affectionate. All she wanted was for someone to pet her and give her more lovin. We would, continually, but if you stopped, Roux would have her face right up in the face of the person who ceased the petting. She’d rub her body against you, and do her best to convince you to keep petting her. I’ll give her this, she was persistent.

Roux was also very kind. I vividly remember when Eli was just a baby that she would allow him to pull and play with her ears. It didn’t matter to her. She would just lay there and lick Eli as he fumbled around with her. She was so patient with him. In the back of my mind, I kept waiting for the moment when she would lash out and bite him. It never happened. She never came close to it.

The decision to put her down was hard. She had been getting weak for awhile. It began with her eating less. Then she became lethargic. Recently, she had been wandering into tight spaces or walking in circles. She also began peeing all over the house. Somewhere over the past month the Roux we loved, left us. The dog we took to the vet yesterday was a shell, a hollow casing of who we once knew.

The vet was very kind. She walked us through the process. She explained all the options and even encouraged us that what Roux was experiencing was old age. It didn’t make it better. It wasn’t any easier, but her kind words were a soft balm. A light coating of grace that this would give her a “good death.” (Which is what euthanize literally means.)

When the time came to say goodbye I thought I was ready. I wasn’t. I watched as they gave her a series of three shots. One was to make sure the I.V. was clean. The next was a sedative to give her, “doggie dreams,” as the Vet put it. As the second shot was administered I watched Roux go limp. For the first time in a month, she looked at peace. My eyes began to swell and my vision blurred. Streams of pain ran down my face as I relived the precious years we had together.

I watched the vet place the last needle into her I.V. I leaned down to my sweet, stinky, lovable dog and rubbed her head. I told her she had been a good dog,  a wonderful dog. Then I told her it was okay, she could rest. Ironically, I have been telling her that privately for a month. I kept hoping she would cross the great divide calmly in her sleep, but that was not mean to be.

Soon, the drugs took her away. I looked down at the remains of Roux and she looked empty. It wasn’t her. It was just the body of an old tired dog who needed rest. No longer would she hobble around the house. No longer would she deal with the embarrassment of urinating all over herself. She now was free.

I used to joke that Roux would outlive us all. I figured I would be 90 and she would still be jumping in my lap. Obviously, that would never be the case, but I loved the idea. What started out as a relationship based on need, she needed a home, I needed a dog to like me, turned into something sweet. She wasn’t just an animal. She was family.  I’ll miss a lot of things about her but what I will miss most of all was her smile. It’s the way I choose to remember her, waiting at the door, spinning in circles as I tried to push past her, and smiling up at me as I pet her hello.

Roux, you were a good dog, and I am thankful we gave you a forever home. Rest in peace my sweet girl. If all dogs do go to Heaven, keep the place warm. I’ll be looking for a hug and a lick when I get there.


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