We had to put Daisy down last night. She has been on a pretty much steady decline since Thanksgiving. We found out she has Cushing's Disease, and put her on medication, but she just wasn't getting better. I called the vet yesterday and left a message. He called my wife back and spoke to her. Mrs. Fish explained that daisy was still wandering around in circles, leaving surprises in the house, and was disoriented almost all the time. The vet suspected that the tumor that causes the Cushing's probably ramped up, rather than being destroyed by the medication.
Mrs. Fish called me and explained the situation, and asked me to call the vet and set a time. It's a little weird to be setting an appointment to put your dog down.
"Hi, this is Fish, I'm Daisy's owner."
The girl on the other end says, in a cheery voice, "Hi, how can we help you today."
I need to make an appointment for Daisy." I was hoping she knew who Daisy was, so I didn't have to say it. She didn't, so I did. "I need to make an appointment for her tonight...to euthanize her," I said, choking up.
To her credit, she immediately recognized the situation and was wonderful, which makes all the difference in this kind of situation. We set it at 6.10, because they like to do it at the end of the day, after everyone else is out of the office.
"I understand. We'll be there. Thank you."
I got home, took a quick shower, and got dressed. Again, there are a thousand weird thoughts that go through your head. What do you wear to put your dog down? I chose a black sweater and jeans, I think more because they were on top than because they were apropos of anything. Then Daisy, Mrs. Fish, Little Fish and I drove to the vet. It's not far, but there are a lot of lights, which I seemed to catch mostly green. Couldn't they be red, to give us a little more time? Maybe it's better that we're being whisked along.
My daughter and wife were both crying intermittently. I think it was hardest on my them, because Daisy was their dog, especially Mrs. Fish--she just preferred being one of the girls. And then we were there. We walked in and sat down, waited for a minute or two until the girl at the desk came out and asked our names. "This is Daisy," I said and her compassion came out again.
"We'll bring you back in a couple of minutes," she replied, her humanity mercifully intact.
"Daisy." They called her like she was going in to get her teeth checked. My wife stood up, and I told Little Fish it was time to say goodbye. She got down on her knees and hugged her doggy for the last time, then I did too, and then Mrs. Fish took her back. My wife wanted to be with her, but my daughter knew it would be too much for her, so we stayed out in the lobby and comforted each other. After a while, she felt a little better, and then she Heely'd around the office (we were the only ones there and they had a smooth floor). It was nice to see her as a kid, the first time since I got home. Then we sat down and waited a little more.
"How long does this take?"
"I don't know, Little Fish. Sometimes they have to help other animals first, so you never know."
Then she just snuggled into my shoulder.
My wife walked out of the door into the waiting area, with the empty leash in her hand, and just started crying, which got all of us going again. We just stood there, holding each other for a while, and then it was time to go.
We walked out into the bitter cold night, and it hit me again that Daisy was not going to be there when we got home. But when was the last time she WAS there when you got home? I mean, REALLY there. I conceded in my mind that it had been a very long time.
We drove to Isaac's Deli and had a good meal. We talked briefly about Daisy, that she was a good dog, who gave us a lot of great memories. I explained to Little Fish that this was part of her heritage. "When someone dies, the people who knew him or her all go out for a meal, and they throw a party to remember all of the good things about him. Other people do it, but no one does it like the Irish."
"Does that mean they drink a lot of beer?" asked Little Fish.
"Yes, that's often true, too."
We ate our meal, and talked about lots of things, things that were not Daisy, and managed to laugh a little. She was a great dog, who led a good life with the Fishes, and she's in a better place. We did the right thing, and that makes a huge difference.
Toward the end of the meal, we were more or less ourselves, and Little Fish turned to me, very earnestly. I wish I could remmber exactly what she said, but it was something like "Daddy, this was a hard thing, and it made me very sad. Thanks for being you. You made it better." It warmed my heart, all the way to my soul.
When we got home, Mrs. Fish and Little Fish went upstairs, while I packed up Daisy's things and put them out. I wept.