Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Goodbye to Major...
Today marks one of the saddest days for our family in a long, long time. We all said goodbye to our beloved Major late this afternoon. He had several illnesses going on and primarily his pain and complete immobility after yesterday caused the vet to advise us to help him die peacefully. We could not get him to move all day, despite all types of assistance. This was not his first bout with immobility in the past three to four weeks. We could have taken him in for testing, but our hearts didn't tell us to take that path. His labored breathing and eyes told us he was not comfortable. We knew this might be coming, but it made it no easier as any of you that have experienced this know. We made the hard choice to help his suffering end, it was time to let him go in his condition and at his age.... I had never travelled this path before, and am a pretty numb person right now. This is one of the hardest things I have gone through, so I guess in many ways that speaks to all the blessings in my life, there are so many......but we still want Major back to himself and wanted him to die naturally years from now......I couldn't sleep even though it is late so I wanted to write about Major.
Major came to us out of another tragedy. In February of 1998, Kurt and I visited the Atlanta Humane Society and came home with this tiny black fluff of a puppy. He was adorable. Days later he died of heart failure. We returned him to the Humane Society as they requested and soothed our loss by bringing home one of his litter mates, a tiny golden fluff of a puppy. He looked and felt like a baby bear. We named him after the constellation of the big bear, Ursa Major, as his big feet made us think he might be a good size dog. Boy did we have that pegged, and Major grew right on into that name. He always was like a teddy bear, he thought he was tiny, but was oh so big! He was a person's dog and a dog's dog. We know he was unique in his demeanor and gentleness. He knows Kurt and I better than anyone as he's been with us so through so many changes in our lives. I feel I've lost the silent confidant, the fly on the wall to our lives, the kid's third protector. He wouldn't be Major having been born any later, but I oh, so wish the kids could have gotten to see him as a puppy and frolic with him when he was still young. It is painful to know at least two of them most likely won't remember his prominent place with us......We have been reading the book this week of Judith Viorst's about a cat's death, "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney". The kids wanted to make a book about Major, so we will, but here are some things we thought of today as we sat with and around him on the deck knowing we might be saying goodbye, tidbits that will be in the book Emma has titled, "The One Hundreth Good Thing About Major":
He always wanted to go on walks with us.
He liked to "Horse-around" the House with whomever was horsing around.
He followed us down to the creek and liked to walk in the cool water.
Once he "treed" a family of possums, when we lived in Georgia.
We never figured out how he caught a squirrel one day.....
Daddy used to lift him up to the water fountains to drink, not for long!
He liked watching us play the Wii.
In Georgia, he liked to swim in the lake near our house when we took him there.
He is named after Ursa Major, because he looked like a bear when he was little.
He was a great watch dog. He watched the bend in the road and the yard from his sentry post on our deck.
He loved to roll on his back in the grass, quite a feat for the big guy! He would shimmy down the hill as he did it.
The first time he barked, he scared himself and whined. His bark was deep and low, the best bark on the block!
He would greet you with a Happy Dance when you got out of your car.
He liked and gave bear hugs.
He had velvet ears.
He liked to lick babies, even those big grown up babies...
He was GOLDEN, his eyes, his fur and his heart.
The book is a work in progress, so I'll stop there for now. He loved us and we loved him. We all cried for him, and cried for him and cried for him. We are grateful to Dr. Ashman and Roberta for letting us cry and talk so long. There was no hurry to this process, just lots of painful steps. Then we made him a crown of flowers and held him and told him goodbye so many times and in so many ways. He drifted off in all our arms here at home, when we were all ready and while not the natural death we dreamed of one day, it was peaceful and beautiful to be here at home with him. It is a relief to know he is not in pain, as he could never tell us what he felt from day to day. His body stayed with us and we buried him in a favorite spot in a grave Kurt and the kids dug and placed his body there with lots of flowers and sprinkled his grave with Morning Glory seeds and started the awesome Cairn we are going to build in his memory on top of where he is buried. With each rock we place through the years we'll bring back a memory of him as we place it on the growing pile. We miss him so, there is such profound emptiness, it keeps coming as something brings him immediately back here to the present so quickly, the pain will fade, but it is so real and so sad for now.....he's gone.
The kids also want to celebrate his life with a bonfire. So we'll find a day and let everyone know and if Major touched your life you are invited to come enjoy the fire and celebrate the light and darkness of all life by honoring the life of this amazing creature, our dog, Major.....
Posted by KT Patrick Bothwell at 10:02 PM