Nothing is harder than having to make the kind of decision that we had to make today. We knew it was weeks in the coming, but nothing prepares you for that day. Even if you've lost a pet before, which most people have, it never gets easier. Today, July 5, 2004, we had to put Brandy down. She was 17 years old. Not bad for a dog that ate all kinds of people food and drank soda & Gatorade constantly! She loved the stuff!
It was probably almost 2 years ago when we first noticed that Brandy's arthritis was really starting to bother her. During the winter it was probably the worst, because of the cold weather and all. Of course, we'd let her sleep indoors at night during the winter. Slowly, Brandy's arthritis was catching up with her, but she continued to do her every day things, like playing and running around. When I got Daisy in March of 2003, Brandy was still able to run, for the most part. As months went by, the running stopped, then all she would do is walk around the yard. She could still move pretty good though. Even though she couldn't run anymore, she would still pick up a ball and want to play... well at least hold on to the ball so Daisy wouldn't get it. More months went by, and Brandy's walk became more stiff looking. Slowly, it was getting harder for her to walk up the 3 stairs we have at our back door for her to come in at night during the winter. She'd get up the first 2 stairs and she'd look like she was holding on for dear life, so I'd give her a little boost with my foot, so she would continue her climb to the top. She was losing control of her pooping habits, and sometimes wouldn't make it to the lawn to do her business. Sometimes in mid-walk, she'd just let 'em go! In early spring, she wasn't able to walk up the stairs anymore, so she started sleeping on the lawn at night, and my mom would cover her up with a heavy blanket, so she wouldn't get cold. Brandy began having trouble getting up from laying down. I mean, she could still get up, but sometimes you could just tell it was harder for her some days. On the days she couldn't get up, she'd have no choice but to poop and pee right there where she was laying down. We knew she was getting old, obviously, so we took her to the vet in mid-Spring to see what they thought we should do. At the vet, they gave her a few shots. They gave her her yearly shots, and also some pain killer shots for the arthritis. They also told us that Brandy had lost weight. She used to weigh about 40 lbs. or so, but now she was weighing in at about 35 lbs. The vet also looked Brandy over and we were told that she has lost a lot of her muscle mass in her legs. Now we knew why she couldn't walk up stairs anymore. Brandy also got a bath that day and came home looking like a new dog! She had a hair cut, a bath, her nails trimmed and some shots. That vet visit made her 10 times better. For a few days after the vet visit, Brandy was up and around, walking all over the place. She seemed to have more energy and would even try and play with Daisy. It's a miracle what some medicines can do for animals. Still, Brandy was still getting older and sometimes wasn't able to get up from the ground. If she was laying on cement, she'd be trying to get up so bad, that her paws would being to bleed and blood would be all over the drive way. We'd have to clean up her paws and wrap them up for a day or so.
There's only so much medicine can do for an old lady dog, like Brandy. In the last month or so we noticed Brandy wasn't able to get up and walk around on her own as much anymore. She'd occasionally get up, but for the most part, she'd just lay around the yard and look around all day long. She didn't seem to mind just hanging out. I mean, we couldn't tell if she was in pain or not. She wasn't crying or anything... until the last 2 weeks it all started. Brandy was at the point where she could hardly stand up on her own, but sometimes she'd be able to walk stiffly around the yard. At times, she'd be laying down and she would want to stand up, but she couldn't. I think out of frustration, she'd cry and whine, wanting to get up. We'd go out and help her up to walk, but sometimes she'd just fall right back down. We knew the time was near where the family would have to make a decision and decide whether or not we should let Brandy be like this. Should any animal have to live like that? It's always hard when you've had a pet for the last 10, 12, 15, and in our case, 17 years in the family. It's hard to imagine what things will be like when their gone. You hate having to decide when it's their time to go. Why can't nature take care of the tough decisions in life. At times you almost want her to go in her sleep, which is how every animal and person should go when it's their time. In this case, for some reason, nature wouldn't take her. In the last few recent nights, Brandy would sometimes start crying and whining in the early hours of the night. Sometimes 2am, 4am, etc. My mom would hear her and go out and see what was wrong. Most of the time, Brandy was laying on her side and wasn't able to prop herself back up. Out of frustration, she'd whine. Once we picked her up and laid her how she wanted to be laying, she'd be fine. Other times, she'd want to get up and walk, but it was really hard for her, and most of the time she'd fall and lay back down. The worst was when she'd be laying down and she'd couldn't get up to go to the bathroom. She'd just have to do it right there. Then, she'd start whining because she was laying in her own "stuff". No animal should have to live like that.
As much as we knew what the right thing to do was, neither my Mom, Dad, nor I had the heart to do what should be done. It was a lot easier to say, than to do it. It looked as if it was the right time to do this. We talked about it on the 4th of July and all 3 of us came to an unspoken agreement that it was time. My Mom was leaving on a trip to Las Vegas today and she'd be gone for a few days. I woke up on the morning of July 5th, and I talked to my Dad. He said he called the humane society, talked to them and agreed he'd take Brandy at 3pm. I was a little shocked by hearing this, but I knew if we didn't do it soon, things might get worse with her in the days to come. Knowing that 3pm was the time, I almost wanted time to stop right then and there... but it didn't.
My Dad took a nap around 1:30pm and I was watching TV next to him. I one point I got up and went outside to see Brandy. She was laying in the way back yard, next to her water bowl. She loved drinking water. I walked up to her from behind and she jumped because I must have startled her. I knelt down in front of her and looked at her. I began petting her head and rubbing her ears, just like I always liked doing. I told myself at that moment, that I'll never forget the way her ears felt. They were soft and floppy, similar to a Beagles, but just smaller. I placed my hand on the right side of her face, and she pressed her head into my hand, just like she always did when I'd do that. I knew I was going to miss that so much. I rubbed and petted her face. It was at that time I noticed a small bead of blood on the top of her nose. I looked closer and she had a few small dried scabs of blood on her nose. I knew then for sure, that we were doing the right thing. I looked at Brandy's water bowl and I noticed it was almost empty and had some hair and grass floating around in it. I took the bowl and filled it with new water. It was at that time, I knew I was filling her water bowl up for the last time. It was horrible to think about. I gave her the new water and she began drinking it, a lot! I figured I'd let her drink up so I started walking away to go back inside. As I was walking away, I looked back and she was looking at me, watching me walk away. I'll never forget that face.
A little while later, it was 3pm. I didn't say anything and I think my Dad was still asleep on the couch. A little after 3pm, I saw my Dad and mentioned to him that it was after 3 o'clock, just in case he lost track of time, or maybe the human society might close soon... but I knew he didn't want to take her. He even said so. I didn't want to either, but we had to and my Dad knew it also. My Dad asked me before he went outside if I wanted to go, I thought about this before hand, and I knew I couldn't do it. I wanted to so much, but I just couldn't. I told him, "No, I think I'm going to stay here."
My Dad went outside to get ready and I was about 30 seconds behind him, because...well... I had to give myself a few seconds to prepare for that moment. When I got to the back yard where Brandy was laying down, my Dad was bent over, petting her. Daisy was also there, just standing next to my Dad. I stopped a few feet behind my Dad and started crying, using my shirt to wipe my face. I walked up next to my Dad, and he said, "I don't want to do it." We stood there for about 30 seconds, then my Dad picked Brandy up from the grass. I stood there sobbing and wiping my face. My Dad turned Brandy toward me and I petted her head and face. I looked at my Dad's face and he too was fighting the tears back. I looked into Brandy's eyes and I saw the puppy that I have had in my life for the last 17 years. My Dad then lowered Brandy down to Daisy. Daisy looked up at her and sniffed her nose to nose, as if to say, "Good Bye.". My Dad then walked Brandy to the car and placed Brandy in the back seat of his Cadillac. He got in and said he'll be back later. After he closed the door, I reached in through the window of the car into the back seat, and petted Brandy's head one last time. My Dad pulled out of the drive way and he was gone.
About 45 minutes later, my Dad arrived back home. I asked him what happened. He said he got there and waited a couple minutes, then the vet/doctor called his name. My Dad then told the vet what was to happen. The vet then asked if my Dad if he would like to be present when Brandy is put down. He said no. He couldn't do it, which I don't blame him. I wouldn't have been able to do it either. I know they say you should be there in the room, but it's something I'm not ready for, that's for sure. My Dad said he gave Brandy a kiss on the nose, then the vet took her away. Then my Dad said something that I'll never forget. He said to me, "I am proud to have had Brandy as my dog.", and I couldn't have agreed with him more.
I like to think that Brandy is now with Tiger, my cat that we had to put down last year...in a place where she can roam, have fun and play with all the tennis balls she could ever want.... where she doesn't have arthritis anymore... and she is strong enough to run and run and run!
I hope she's waiting for me up there in Heaven.
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