Saturday, June 30, 2012

No, you can't put a good dog down.

Meet Norm(an) Kozcunningville. Yes, that's his real name, the last name a beautiful blend of the surnames of his 3 - yes 3 - dads. Born in the fall of 1996, this pup is a whopping sixteen in people years ya'll. As in 112 years in dog years which also makes him kind of magical. Do you know anyone that's 112? Bilbo Baggins doesn't count. Norm was born into a frat house where his formative years were, let's face it, probably spent eating cigarette butts out of ashtrays and lapping up bong water. But clearly there's something to be said for the frat house diet because just look at this face. Is it the face of a 112 soul? 

Three weeks ago Norm stopped getting out of bed. He just laid there. Glazed eyes, not eating. We had to carry him down the side steps to go outside where he'd just stand in the yard, disoriented, back legs shaking, and not sure of how to get back to the house. Granted, there was a lot of random shit in our backyard at the time because our next door neighbor was trying to move a giant hot tub from our other next door neighbor's yard to his yard (on the other side of us). To accomplish that task, sections of our fence had to be taken down on both sides, but then 'The Great Hot Tub Move of 2012' was suddenly put on hold due to lack of funding, so our fence was propped back up with 2x4's and cylinder blocks for weeks. All of of the ladders and moving equipment also stayed in our yard and now that I think of it, it's not fair to say that Norm's disorientation was entirely due to old age and failing vision but maybe more due to feeling like he was stuck in a corn maze and couldn't find the shortest/safest route back. Inneresting.

All weekend Norm refused to eat and had no interest in water. I kept telling myself - and Special K - that he'd rally like always. Finally Special K came onto the porch, my porch, to have a sit-down, a crucial conversation if you will, where he pretty much assured me that Norman is 16 and probably would not be bouncing back this time. Keep in mind that Norman is my first dog. I grew up with cats which I now don't like because I think they're aloof and judgmental. Thus our conversation went something like this.

Special K: We need to make a decision about Norman soon.
Me: A decision about what? We can keep carrying him up and down the stairs. I can do mornings before I go to work and you can do afternoons and evenings.
Special K: Not that kind of decision.
Me: Food? Does he need a different kind of food since he can't really stand up? Something soft maybe?
Special K: Nicole, we need to decide when we are going to put him down. He can't keep living like this. 
Me: WHAT!?! How do we get to make that decision? Who decides that we get to decide that?! (Again, I'm so new to this.) The tears are flowing now.
Special K: Um, we do actually because we are his owners parents. He's not going to come back from this. We will probably need to do it soon. Trust me, I've been through this before.
Me: How can you say that? He always comes back. He can still stand on his own. His eyes may not see us well (at all) but he still smiles! He was walking around the living room a little bit and nibbled on a treat (before his legs gave out and he hit the floor). Not even Bubba can do that and no one's talking about putting her down! 

Clearly at this point I had stopped making sense and Special K shook his head, patted me on the knee, and left me to cry in my coffee. #saddestmomentever. The next day, I went to work, puffy-eyed and somberly, I informed my co-workers of Norm's impending doom. Then I masochistically used the above photo as my screen saver and I actually have two monitors (because I need 2 to toggle) so it's like I'm surrounded by that face all the time. That night one of Norm's other dad's came over after work to spend some quality time with him. He still wasn't maneuvering the stairs at all but was at least getting out of bed on his own. Eyes still gray, he was eating only those things which were covered in tuna juice until he threw up so then we had to stop the tuna juice. It ended up being a slumber party because Jamie wanted to stay with Norm. The next morning he got out of bed when I came downstairs and after being carried up and down the side stairs (Norm, not Jamie) he ate his breakfast. My 13 year old brother made a surprise visit the next day and stayed for a week and a half (that's a whole nother post - maybe 2) and in that time Norm-Dog continued to get showered in love and affection. Then I took this picture, check out that smile:

He started going down the stairs on his own if a treat is thrown down ahead of him, and he started eating more. We still have to him carry up the stairs most of the time, but ever since Special K  we accidentally left him out all night the other night (He was still standing in the morning but man did he sleep the rest of the day! #worstparents), he has started making his way back up the stairs on his own. He has even has started whining again to let us know he's there and ready to come in. 

The moral of this story boys and girls? You can't keep a good dog down. 
You can't put a good dog down either.

The End. To be continued.

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