The End of Our Dog Era (2024)

The End of Our Dog Era (1)“That’s the end of our Joplin era,” my wife said to my oldest daughter.

We were still crying and wiping our tears.

I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought “That was the end of our dog era,”

We’d just returned to the car from the vet’s office where the three of us, through tears, accompanied our 15 year old black lab to the end of her life.

Joplin had been the runt of her mother’s litter. She was a black lab in a mixed litter of black and yellow labs. We picked her out before she was weaned and returned to the farm where she was born to bring her home a few weeks later.

When we brought her home she could be held in one hand. She was initially confined to the kitchen as we introduced her to her feline siblings and we started on the house training. At night she whimpered and cried. I slept through it, but my wife found herself laying on the kitchen floor next to Joplin comforting her so that they both could sleep.

Joplin was a good dog. Loyal, protective, affectionate, but not annoyingly so, playful well beyond her years. Though she was a black lab, she was not a lover of the water. She was never a swimmer. She was legs with lungs. She could run, and run, and run.

She loved open fields and the off-leash dog park.

She took thousands of walks over the years. Our routine for most of her life was to walk from our house through downtown and back, a three mile loop.

When we moved to Sammamish, Washington in 2012, she was three years old. She flew from Kansas City to Washington in the cargo hold of a plane with her two sibling cats, each in their own crate. I picked her up from the cargo place at Seatac. She was stressed from the journey.

I brought her home to temporary housing in Redmond where I was living alone, waiting for my family to make the journey in a couple weeks. It was 45º F and drizzling when I walked her around the grounds of the apartment complex.

When I let her into the apartment, she immediately sh*t on the floor. She’d never done anything like that before and never did again.

She endured Washington’s winters, 45º F, drizzling rain for nine months and adored Washington’s summers.

In Sammamish we didn’t live near downtown anymore. Sammamish didn’t have a downtown. It was a bedroom community with strip malls. It was a beautiful place, usually 45º F and drizzling rain, except in the summer when it probably has the best weather on the planet.

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There was a good size lily pad pound in our neighborhood. One of the areas many retention ponds. Joplin loved visiting that pond, from the water’s edge. Our neighborhood was filled with the best people and a web of walking trails wove the neighborhood to a central park and pool. Joplin loved those trails and that park.

After nearly five years, we moved back to the midwest during what was supposed to be a vacation. We boarded Joplin, though she was a 75 pound black lab, the staff at Dogs-a-Jammin, said she liked to play with the smaller dogs.

We drove from Sammamish to Lawrence, Ks to visit our family one summer and when we got there, we decided we should move back. Our families were there. My parents lived in a tiny town 60 miles southwest of Wichita. My dad had had a couple back surgeries in as many years and wasn’t doing great.

We told the kids. We drove back to Sammamish earlier than planned and packed everything they would need for the move back to Kansas. We drove back to Kansas. I flew back to Seattle and got the house ready to go on the market and started packing our remaining things.

I drove our Honda Pilot from Sammamish to Lawrence with two very frightened, annoyed and annoying cats. I flew back to Sammamish.

I finished packing our things in the back of a Ryder truck with a car in tow.

Joplin rode in the bed of that Ryder truck with me. For a few days she paced back and forth in the front seat. Hot breath in my face, then head out the passenger door. We slept in rest stop parking lots among the semis. She was a good traveler. She never complained about my driving.

We moved back into our old neighborhood and resumed our daily walks through downtown. Until she got to where she couldn’t cover that distance anymore. She would leave the house with vigor and return laggardly. She was slowing down.

Our walks became short walks around the blocks in our neighborhood. She loved going to the middle-school down the street and running around without her leash on, but the long walks were a thing of the past.

Arthritis and inflammation set in. She did well under anti-inflammatory medication and suffered without it. We started asking ourselves, “Do you think today was a good day for Joplin?” On mornings when she was slow to get up, we would look carefully at her to confirm that she was breathing.

Walks became leisurely strolls up and down the block and then just around the house. She had occasional seizures, but would quickly recover from them. Through it all she still seemed to enjoy life. She grew more tolerant of the cats who loved to attack her wagging tail.

A couple weeks ago she collapsed in our dining room and went into a seizure. I picked her up and carried her into the living room and comforted her. She got up and walked to the back door on her own. I let her out and her legs gave out on her, she face planted and seized again. I went to her and reassured her that everything was going to be alright.

But everything wasn’t going to be alright. The scales had rapidly tipped in favor of bad days and at 15, she was unlikely to tilt the scale in the other direction.

She recovered and then collapsed in the yard again and seized again.

I told my wife what was happening and reminded her that I would be traveling soon and that it seemed the time had come. She hesitantly agreed. I called the vet. We cried.

The next day we all spent time with Joplin individually. I told her that she’d been a great member of our family and I thanked her for 15 years full of wonderful memories.

She collapsed and seized again the next day before we got her to the vet. I carried her to the car and put her in. My oldest daughter sat in the back of the car with her.

When we arrived at the vet, I lifted her out of the car. She walked toward the door of the clinic, collapsed and seized again.

I think that was her way of letting us know that it was indeed time and that we were doing the right thing to relieve her suffering.

The vet was kind and compassionate. Joplin was made comfortable on a quilt my grandmother had made from polyester pant suits. It was the same quilt that I put over the bench seat of the Ryder truck when Joplin sat next to me for the two plus day road trip from Seattle to Lawrence.

Joplin breathed her last breath. We all cried. We all miss her.

It was the end of our Joplin era, the end of our dog era.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from trustedsignal -- blog authored by davehull. Read the original post at: https://trustedsignal.blogspot.com/2024/06/the-end-of-our-dog-era.html

The End of Our Dog Era (2024)
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