So, what was best? A lot of people told me I would know when it was the right time, that it was obvious when a dog was miserable or in pain. But was that the right thing to do? Surely I wanted to avoid pain and misery. Therefore he should make the final visit to the vet while he was still wagging his tail and perking up his ears. I fretted. I worried. I was conflicted. It was so important to get this right.
And with my writer's cold eye, I watched my agonised twisting around the conflict I felt. I checked all those emotions, the wanting to do the right thing, coupled with the knowledge that a sick dog was a tie and I had a weekend away speaking at the RNA Conference with no one to look after him. That dilemma was solved when a dear friend offered to drive 200 miles to dog sit for me, but there were more dilemmas in the offing, more times away when he couldn't come with me any more. What was the right thing to do? Selfishly, I hoped I'd come down in the morning and find him cold in the hall. I hoped for it, I dreaded it.
If I had been a character in a novel I would have acted but, this being real life, I dithered. Last weekend he stopped eating properly. Treats like eggs and cheese were ignored, although on Sunday he scoffed a complete pack of bacon. He walked like a drunk, always in danger of the sudden collapse. On Monday morning he was so sad, and I knew it was time.
He hadn't been able to get in the car for some time, and he was too big for me to carry so we walked down to the vet's surgery, just around the corner, taking our time. He sniffed walls and lamp posts diligently, and wagged his tail at a passing stranger who stopped for a chat. I wondered if I was doing the right thing, but then he struggled to climb the kerb when we crossed the road, he was so weak. At the vet's he lay on the floor with his head in my lap, and I stroked him and told him he was a good dog, the best dog, and then he gently, quietly drifted to sleep. My dear friend for 13 years. RIP Tan.