Sadness has settled into me like a chest cold. We put our doggie down this morning. Buckley was 14 years, 4 months old.
The vet at the emergency clinic was compassionate about it. “He’s gone,” she told us, listening to Buckley’s chest with a stethoscope after the second injection.
For 14 years, I’ve been correcting people. Buckley was a “she.” But I just didn’t have the energy to do it this morning, and it didn’t really matter anymore.
The name started as a joke. I was engaged to be married, and my fiancé, The Big M, loved to tease that he would name our first son Bucky, after Aggie quarterback Bucky Richardson. I told him that when I got a dog I would name it Bucky. You can’t name a child after the dog, I reasoned. But then I fell in love with a little yellow and black girl puppy mutt at the Brazos Animal Shelter, and Bucky was out. I had known a girl named Buckley, however, and the new name stuck.
She was suffering at the end. I’ve seen suffering at the end before. My 93-year-old grandmother labored through more than a week of slow, painful dying. Every day when I visited her, she told me of her physical and emotional pain, of how she wished it would end. All I could do was try to comfort her. It wasn’t enough.
I had options this time. Hospice had trained me that in the final days, the dying person has a “death rattle,” a watery, wheezy way of breathing. Grandma had it. Buckley had it too, this morning. I knew I could end her suffering.
I haven’t been a perfect doggie parent. I was young, poor, and foolish when I adopted her. The stains of my early failings have marked my heart these past few years. But I’ve done my best to make up for it, and through it all Buckley was unfailingly sweet and loyal. She loved me back, and she loved her adoptive daddy and our children despite their awkward little hands heavily patting her face, pulling her tail, and trying to catch her. She never bit anyone, no matter how much they deserved it (as opposed to her childhood best friend, my parents’ dog, Isaac.) She was unfailing polite with strangers and always joyful with family and friends.
Today was my opportunity to give Buckley a final gift. I’ve been debating the ethicality of euthanasia for a long time. But it was clear to me this morning that my dog would not make it another 24 hours, and the thought that she might suffer all day and die in the night, alone, was too much for me. I had the means to give her a painless, instant death and to be there with her, comforting her at the very end. So I did it, and I will live with it. If I failed her in the beginning, I did not fail her at the end.
I like to think that tonight Buckley is running around, pain-free, in a giant backyard with her best friend Isaac. I imagine that as soon as she spotted him, she ran underneath him, lifting him off the ground, making him grunt, “Oomph,” like she used to do at my parents’ house. Every time we took her to grandma’s after Isaac died, Buckley would run in the yard first and look for him before greeting the family. I like to think that today she finally found her canine buddy again.
Below is my favorite picture of Buckley, sitting with Daddy just before we were married.
Rest in peace, sweet friend. You were a good girl.
Categories: The Kids