Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good-Bye My Sweet Boy

I’m writing this with a warm, fuzzy body lying under my desk chair next to my feet and a heavy heart. This will probably be the last time I feel this feeling for quite some time. Some of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in this life relate to my pets, and this one has been no different. But, unfortunately, the time has come again.

I haven’t had Shakespeare since he was a puppy. He was actually a middle-aged little guy before he came to live with us. But from the moment we met, I adored him. He was pretty sick the first time I saw him. He’d scavenged a cabinet or garbage can, had eaten something toxic, and was very ill. As a young guy, he was pretty inquisitive, so it was no surprise he’d gotten into something that was bad for him. So at the request of Shakespeare’s owner, a friend of mine, I took Dakota to meet him and hopefully lift his spirits. The plan worked. Slowly during the next several days, Kota got Shakes to eat and drink, and basically brought him back to life. And they have been best buddies ever since.

So when Shakes’ previous owner was looking to place him in a new home a year or so later, I jumped at the chance to take him in. And so began my life with Shakespeare the Pug.

Pugs aren’t easy animals to have in your home. They snort, click, lick, slobber, stink—you name it. But they are also sweet, adorable, fun, spirited—and Shakespeare is all of that and so much more. He’s got a huge heart and a sweet spirit, and he’s always been happy and content just to be loved—until recently.

That first year together as a family we spent running on the beach, riding around in my Jeep with the top down, taking long walks on the bluffs, snuggling up on the couch. Kota and Shakes were happy as clams they’d found each other. Then along came Baby Kensie, so the next few years were spent with a baby/toddler tugging at their tails and ears. Shakes never seemed to mind even when Kota got a little testy. He’d let K tug and poke and pick and prod—whatever she wanted. He was just happy we wanted him around.

Our move to Kansas last year was a bit harder on the now elderly Shakespeare. He was diagnosed with diabetes soon after we arrived and almost immediately went blind. He was already mostly deaf, so blindness changed his life dramatically. And the diabetes also caused him to struggle with incontinence. For the past year, I’ve been washing throw rugs and mopping floors on an almost daily basis and, although frustrating on occasion, have been willing to do it so that Shakes was comfortable and somewhat happy, and I had my sweet boy with me. But he is no longer comfortable or happy; and, as of this past week, I’m not even sure he’s still my Shakey.

Shakes has been struggling for some time now, and though I knew this, I kept telling myself that as long as he had Dakota, Kensie, me, and a safe and cozy home, he would be OK. And much of the time, he really did seem OK. I prayed he’d slip away when the time was right (as most people do, though it rarely happens that way) on his own terms. I felt that was the way it was supposed to be. Mostly, I was terrified of the decision that I knew, deep down, I’d eventually have to make.

Well, today is that day. It’s been a solid week of pure misery for both Shakespeare and me, and I’ve decided it’s finally time we both get the rest we so desperately need.

Making the decision to put a pet to sleep is heart-breaking. Ultimately, what I’ve come to realize with Shakespeare’s situation, is that I’ve done everything I can to keep him alive—but mostly for me, not necessarily for him. I’ve told myself that I’d be playing God if I made the dreaded “decision,” and I couldn’t bear that thought. But the truth is, sometimes death is better than life. The pain it’s going to cause me to lose my sweet Shakes is hard to imagine, but the pain he’s been in day in and day out for so long is unbearable to watch any longer. So I made this decision for him today, and I pray it’s the right one.

We will miss you forever my sweet Shakes, but you will always be in our hearts. I will no longer hear your snort; the clicking of your overgrown toenails on the hardwood floors; your guttural snore; you scarfing every last kernel of food at dinnertime; your squished-faced, raspy hack; the slurping of water that seems never-ending; your sharp, excited bark; or your adorable, happy howl. And I will never again see that adorable, sweet face that only a mother could love. But I hear your heart speaking to me today, and it is telling me to say good-bye.

So good-bye my sweet boy. Kota, Kensie, and I will miss you terribly but know we will see you again someday—that healthy, strong, happy little guy I met so many years ago—if only in our dreams. 


Eden of Woolflower Boutique said...

We'll be thinking of you. I know you made the best decision.

Janeane said...

So loved and missed. You are an angel for taking such good care of him. Tears, but you definitely made the right decision <3

Makensie's Mom said...

Thanks you guys. Still heart-broken and missing him but hoping time will heal. So appreciate all your support. Janeane, hope the girls are OK.

Julie said...

Tara, you have my utmost sympathies. We had to make this same decision with our precious Jack two months ago, and it still hurts every day. But know in your heart that you made the right decision, the best, kindest, most selfless one we as humans who love these furry creatures can make. I'm sending healing thoughts to you, your little girl, and your Kota.

Jim said...


Thank you so much for writing this down on paper. I’ve read your words a few times now and each time I break down in tears.

I had the honor of raising Shakespeare from a pup. It was the late 90’s and I had recently divorced, quit my job and started a business. My days were filled with selling ad space from my apartment in Encinitas. Just me, a cup of coffee and the phone. One day I went to a trade show in Vegas and one of the exhibitors had a pug puppy they were using to draw people into the booth. I spent a great deal of time in that booth playing with that pug, his name was Shakespeare. I tried to adopt Shakespeare but it turned out he had serious medical problems and the agency was looking for a different type of home. So I began my own search that led me to a breeder in Boulevard, a very scary rural part of San Diego filled with “Guns and Pickups.” At the time, pugs were popular due to the movie Men in Black. When I got to the breeder’s home there were dozens of pug puppies running around. I wanted to spend some time choosing the right one but I also wanted to get the hell out of there because this place was really scary. Husband and wife breeders. Just to give you a visual, I had driven a long dirt road and there were only 2 homes at the end of the road. While I was there, the police showed up to investigate an “incident.” While I was playing with all the puppies, the husband (big guy with tattoos) was following me around, asking me if I wanted a beer. After an hour or so it was getting dark and I really wanted to get out of there. I had bonded with one pug that had just the right energy – Shakespeare! I loved the name and wanted to honor the pug I had met in Vegas. And I wanted my little guy to have a BIG name. The long, dark drive down that scary dirt road was our first bonding experience. I remember talking to him, “let’s get the hell out of here Shakespeare!”

Shakespeare was my best friend, his companionship kept me going during the lonely days. Your opening sentence Tara made me cry because when I was making my sales calls, Shakespeare would lie down under my desk chair and cuddle up against my feet. That was what he loved to do the most, cuddle up. He got me through some of the hardest days of my life. Coming to terms with my divorce, no longer living with my girls Zoe and Abby, and managing the day-to-day business. My daughters Zoe and Abby loved Shakespeare and we had so much fun taking him for walks and to the park. Abby, who is Autistic, really bonded with him and it was such a joy to see this especially.

I’m so glad Tara that Shakespeare came into your life. When I would travel, I would leave Shakespeare with Zoe and Abby. It must have been fate to have you and Dakota enter his life. After 9-11, my business started declining. Marketing departments were cutting back on advertising. I decided to fold my magazine in 2003 and return to the workforce. I didn’t want to let go of Shakespeare but he was home alone most days and I knew that wasn’t good for him or me. Saying goodbye to my best friend was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. But at the same time I knew he was going to a good home with Janeane and the girls, and later with you and Dakota.

When you talked about his snorting, clicking, slobbering and stink I had to smile but it also made me cry again. I grew to love all those traits, especially the way he would snort like an old man. He slept on my bed and I would fall asleep to his snoring. I also remember his howl, like he was trying to talk to me. He made me laugh so much.

Thank you Tara, for all you did to make him happy and comfortable. For the pain and suffering you both went through at the end. There’s nothing sadder in this world than putting a dog down, but you absolutely did the right thing. He had a good life, thanks to you. I have such great memories and pictures to always remind me of his kindness, playfulness, friendship and loyalty. He touched both our lives and his memory will live on in our hearts.

Makensie's Mom said...

Thanks so much, Julie. I followed all your posts about Jack and felt your pain when you lost him. I'm sure it takes time to get over, and I'm guessing you're not there yet. But I sure hope you get there soon.

Jim, I am so happy to hear Shakes' early story! I've never heard it before! I knew he was with you and then Janeane and the girls, but that was about it. And you definitely made the right decision giving him to Janeane so he wasn't alone all the time. He didn't really like to be alone, especially as he got older. Luckily I work from home, and I was able to be with him most of the time. But when he want blind, that was really hard on him. So I tried to be here as much as I could for him.

I will miss him more than words can say. It was really hard work keeping him happy in the end, and ultimately, nothing could make him happy anymore. He was just existing, and it wasn't fair to him. I'm still so very sad and struggling to move past having to make that decision, but I think I'll get there. He was a beautiful little creature, and I will never forget him.

On a side note, my daughter won't let me get rid of his bed yet. It's still laying in the same spot it was in the day he died. I'd like to get it out of here because it hurts every time I walk by it, but I have to let her grieve in her own way. And I guess this is part of that. She's never known life without Shake, and though she seems OK on a daily basis, on know it's hard on her, too.

Again, thanks so much for the great story. Amazingly, I feel as if I know Shakes so much better now that I've heard it! Hang in there. ;) Tara