I miss my boy.P and I took Karl to the veterinary clinic together. We left A at school, deciding that she is far too young to watch her doggie cross over. Later, we let her know that Karl was sick and had died (I had given her some advance warning that morning also). I'm not sure how much she absorbs or understands at this point. I hope she will remember him.
Just as we were leaving the house, Karl put his head down, gagged, and left three small puddles of bile on the carpet. He had not eaten since last week, so that was all that was left in him, I suppose. He would still take a treat, but he would then deposit it on the rug within an hour. Often, there was blood in his vomit. At times we hoped we had his condition under control through dietary changes and medications, but it would always cycle back through with a vengeance.
For several months, I cleaned up the vomit and fretted. When the snow came, I realized just how bad it was, because I could see all of the vomit in the back yard that I hadn't been able to see before. Meanwhile, Karl grew thinner and less lively. All his life, we had a little routine where I would approach him when he was laying down and enthusiastically ask, "Who's my good boy? Who's my Karlie Snarly?" And he would fwap-fwap-fwap his feathered tail against the floor in response. In recent weeks, he stopped fwapping. His formerly glorious black coat became dull.
I knew that eventually I would need to make a decision, but I hesitated for weeks. Was I making the right choice for my boy, my friend of 10 years, or was I simply tired of cleaning up vomit three times a day? Granted, the vomit was no fun. Bile stains on impact. My steam cleaner was ready to pack its bags and header for greener (or at least cleaner) pastures. But, I truly felt he was suffering. When he stopped eating for good, I suspected that it was as clear a sign as I would get. It's possible that we could have opted for exploratory surgery to find out what was going wrong on the inside (bloodwork and x-rays had come back negative), but I felt he was probably too frail to withstand the anesthesia. Karl had weighed over 70 pounds in his prime and now clocked in at just over 50.
At the veterinary clinic, Karl was anxious and paced back and forth between my husband and me. We stroked him and reassured him. A veterinary technician took him out of the room to insert a catheter in his foreleg. She brought him back in a few minutes later. We spent a few last minutes with Karl before the veterinarian arrived.
Karl was placed on a low table that had a soft fleece blanket on top. The veterinary technician stood nearby as the veterinarian began the injection. P and I knelt next to the table and stroked Karl's head. I whispered to him, "Go and find the Goose. She'll be waiting for you. She runs in a field near our house. Look for her." Karl and his Boxer sister were together for nearly 8 years until her death in November of 2006, so I hoped they would reunite on the other side. I cried openly and put my head down, feeling my tears falling against the fleece blanket. "I love you, good boy," I said.
After he died, I leaned down and hugged Karl's still-warm body. I held his paw, which was an odd sensation for me as he had never allowed this when he was alive without freaking out like a mental patient. It was a running joke among family and friends: "Don't touch Karl's paws."
I took Karl's collar, but left his festive "Santa's Little Helper" bandana on. I hoped that everyone who handled my boy's skinny body after his death would see it and know that he was loved.
On the way to pick up the kid, we shared a few memories of Karl. "Remember how he loved to run in the woods up at the cabin? And how he would come back limping from chasing squirrels?" I asked. We were glad we took him up there in August, even though he was already getting sick by then.
Mostly, we remembered that he never caused us any trouble. We had no Marley-type stories of cookies eaten off the counter or massive property damage. He was easily housebroken after we adopted him from the shelter. He was easily trained. He was patient with our daughter. Karl, all along, was a gentleman. He was a good, good dog.