It's seven days until I partake in a mercy killing. That day, I will take a half day off of work. I will walk slowly to my car, and proceed to obey every stop sign, traffic signal, and speed limit to delay the inevitable. I will drive the twenty three miles from my place of work to the veterinarian's office, where I will sign the paperwork and hold my best friend of eleven years as she breathes her last on this planet. The fact that I will be in the exact same building, in the exact same operating room, attended by the exact same veterinarian when I first went through this process twelve years makes me sigh with ironic morbidity.
The story of how I met my best friend starts six months before I adopted her. That day, I woke up to my mom nudging me awake, and telling me I had to get up. When I came upstairs, I found my Shetland sheepdog confused and thrashing about. He had had a seizure that night, and for his own good, we had to put him to sleep. I was saddened, but immediately accepting of his fate. He could no longer see; the burst blood vessels in his eyes and his erratic movements clearly stating that he would never recover, and there was only one merciful option. I tearfully gathered my companion of ten years in my arms, ignoring the stream of urine he involuntarily passed, running down my shorts and leg to pool on the floor. We slowly drove to the vet's office, where we signed the paperwork, and I only had a short time to say goodbye to my childhood friend. I cradled him in my arms, and whispered that he was going to a place with no pain, no fear, and he could happily play with the German Shephard that was my guardian from the time I was born until I was six years old that succumbed to cancer while I was in kindergarten.
The veterinarian came in, and without ceremony, administered the shot. I watched as my friend's twitching slowed; his breathing becoming slower, and slower, until it finally stopped. I had never actually been through this before, and knowing that before me was the shell of my companion made me break down and sob in the vet's office. I was barely coherent the rest of that week; trudging around my school with a neutral expression, desperate not to show emotion, because if I did, I would break down. Then, she came into my life.
She was a German Shephard/Husky mix. A three time loser, dumped at the shelter, about to be sent to a kill shelter because she was labeled a problem dog. More like beginner dog families tried to adopt her and didn't know what they were doing, and blamed it on her youthful exuberance, instead of their inexperience and impatience. Their loss was my gain.
My family always had dogs, and after 6 months had passed, we decided to get another one. We were unimpressed with the dogs at the shelter, until we saw her. An insuppressible ball of energy at six months old, she bounced around in her cage, barking relentlessly. The staff put a leash on her, and let her out, handing me the leash. I took the leash, and patted her on the head, and I was lost. We took her home that day, and for the next eleven years, she was my constant companion; my snuggling buddy on those cold winter nights, and my alarm clock to get up for school, when she would jump on my bed and slap me in the face with her paw.
That was over a decade ago. Now, thanks to a slow, degenerative spinal disease similar to ALS, she no longer has the use of her back legs, and can only crawl around on her front. Her teeth are dull and blunted, and she spends most of the day lying around. To me, she is the most beautiful dog in the world. She can no longer chase a tennis ball, or wrestle around with me, but we're still able to go on walks, thanks to a specially made wheelchair we purchased online. However, she has slowed down dramatically, and both my family and my vet have recommended that it is her time.