We are struggling right now with our 14 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Remy.
He is in the process of dying.
There’s been a seizure and at least one stroke. It’s hard for him to walk and he sleeps most of the time.
What do we do now?
Cavaliers don’t usually live to be 14 and certainly not without heart problems.
He doesn’t even have a faint murmur of a murmur!
He is simply wearing out.
We took him to the vet a few days ago and he remarked that Remy looked pretty good.
“There’s nothing specifically wrong with him. He’s just dying of old age.”
The little tail that wagged constantly for over 14 years, doesn’t work anymore.
With every passing day, he eats a little less and sleeps a little more.
We can see him fading away.
I find myself thinking back to the day I brought him home .
Remy’s mother was a “Best in Breed” winner at Westminster.
His breeder only bred show dogs for show homes.
Remy was the “loser” in his litter.
His markings were not “up to standard”
and therefore, he would never be able to be “shown”.
I could not have cared less.
I wanted a female but the breeder entered the room
and plopped this scrawny, male puppy onto my lap.
The little guy seemed to have little or no personality
and a nose that was half pink and half black.
I did not feel an instant connection with him.
Her attitude was: take this one or walk away “dog- less”.
So, I paid her a King’s Ransom ( sorry, no discounts for show rejects),
gathered up this little bundle of un-remarkable puppyhood and went home.
That night, feeling sorry for the little guy,
we bundled up together and I held him close to my heart,
just as I did when they handed me my son for the first time.
He missed his mother and his siblings and
the life he’d known for the past 4 months.
His big eyes seemed to be saying: “I’m scared but I know you’ll do the right thing by me”.
Then, he licked my neck and buried his head inside my sweater ( a typical “guy” move!)
That’s the moment I fell head over heels in love with him.
He needed me and I was going to be there for him.
Little did I know how much he would be there for me, as well.
So, he became a part of our family.
We were besotted by him, his happy little personality and his constantly wagging tail.
There is no dog with a better temperament than a Cavalier.
They are kind, gentle, happy and wickedly smart.
As he grew, I saw that he was becoming a beautiful Cavalier.
Even his quirky two-tone nose became all black.
Maybe his markings were a little sub-standard for a show dog;
but his intelligence and his beautiful face and disposition more than made up for that.
As a puppy he loved to chase his ball down the long hallway and hump the sofa pillows with his “squirrel”.
“Don’t even ask!
He got along with our other dogs by adopting the philosophy:
” I am a human and you are just dogs.”
Now completely blind and deaf, his sense of smell is sharper than ever.
When food is involved, he is involved!
When we take the dogs out to a hamburger joint in the country,
the other dogs sit in the back seat and wait for pieces of hamburger to be given to them.
Remy sits in the front and doesn’t like waiting,
so he takes the food directly out of Kevin’s mouth.
He finds that behavior perfectly acceptable because:
He is, after all, one of “us”- not one of “them”!
Last week, in the middle of the night, he had a seizure.
He was so frightened ….. his heart was racing for almost an hour afterward.
I just held him and stroked him, quietly reassuring him that everything was okay; even though it wasn’t.
I was pretty sure he was dying.
Finally, he calmed down and fell asleep for the rest of the night.
As I sit here writing this,
he sleeps beside me and I can’t help but wonder if today is his last day.
I pray that he will pass quietly in his sleep and we won’t be forced to make the decision ourselves.
I think about how much easier it would be if we didn’t love like this.
The loss is so painful when it’s over..
Each time it happens, it is harder and takes more time to recover.
We have had a wonderful life with each other.
He has loved us with all his heart and we reciprocated.
Soon he will join all the others I have loved so much, who are gone now.
This little force of nature we named “Remy”
has left an indelible imprint on my heart and soul.
It will not be easy to let him go.
Last night, I bundled him up and plopped him on my chest ,
as I did the first night I brought him home.
He fell asleep instantly and spent an hour sleeping peacefully in my arms.
Now I feel, somehow, that he and I have come full circle.
Not even death, when it comes, can take everything away from us.
It creates a hole in our hearts and in our lives
but it cannot steal the love we shared.
We get to keep all of that.
Eventually we will all leave this planet,
the love we have given and been given, never dies.