You know when famous and accomplished people get old and all the newspapers start writing the obituaries so that when the day comes when they finally shuffle off this mortal coil, all they have to do is find the file and press publish?
Maybe I should have done that.
It’s taken me over a week to write this post, because whenever I start or open up a new draft I get weepy and sad and abandon my efforts. Tears and sadness though there may be, I am blunt about death. So, here goes:
Mooki died Monday, June 22. It was her 16th birthday. We three were around her when her heart stopped beating, and it was as peaceful as it can be.
I came home from picking Kale up at school and she was lying awkwardly on the rug and didn’t rise to greet us as she normally does. She’s old and slow, though, so that didn’t tip me off. It was not until I suggested we go for a pee break, and I nudged her with my foot to get her toward the door, and she got up and fell over that I realized something wasn’t right.
I picked her up and she wobbled and fell over again. She suddenly looked so incredibly frail. I called Ross and suggested he come home and put Mooki’s leash on her and carried her outside to see if that would help but she fell over again. So I took a deep breath, and called the vet to book the appointment to euthanize her.
Since last fall I have known this was coming. In January I wrote a post about losing Mooki. I had essentially decided Mooki had a DNR I’d signed off on, and Ross and I agreed we’d not put her through any life saving medical interventions outside of a stitch to the paw. Even this past month I was aware she had slid down that deep dark hole a bit more – her food consumption was about half what it normally is and she had the shakes, a lot.
But apparently the logical part of my brain didn’t bother to send a memo to my heart because the second the vet assistant answered the phone I broke down and cried. Between gasps and spluttering, I managed to communicate to the (lovely wonderful) staff that we were coming in with a single specific purpose. (Sidenote: the people at Queens Park Vet Hospital were outstanding).
So after a heartachingly-long hour, Ross arrived home and we packed dear Mookiface up in the car and left for the pet hospital.
I had decided Kale would be a part of Mooki’s death. He is nearly seven and has a theoretical understanding of what death is because we have lost people in our family this past year. I knew that if we took Mooki away and then returned home without her, he wouldn’t have the chance for closure and I felt the heartbreak would be worse than the loss of Mooki. Kale knew she was very old, and understood she wouldn’t live forever.
Here’s what they do when they euthanize your pet: they give them a sedative to chill them out, then they put in a catheter for the final medicine. In our vet’s office, they take the animal away to do that as sometimes they struggle. (Mooki did – I could see the mussed up fur around her snout where they had to put a muzzle on her – and this surprises me not one tiny bit. She might have been dying but there was no way she wasn’t going to fight us all.) Then they administer an anaesthetic, and then they administer the euthanizing drug that stops the heart.
It was as peaceful as it could be. We got to pat and pet Mooki and stay with her after her heart stopped beating as long as we wanted. We told her we loved her and let her go.
Kale has been understandably sad, but has also shown maturity about the loss of our dog. Kids are so resilient. He and I made a terrarium in Mooki’s honour with a fox figurine I had found and a heart-shaped pawprint charm the vet’s office gave us. He told me that when he looks at it he is sad, but also happy he had Mooki in his life.
Thirteen years is a long time to have a dog in your life. When I got Mooki I was such an incredibly different person and Mooki has seen so much in her life with me. She was always infuriatingly aloof; never a kissy dog or a tail wagger, but she would snuggle in bed with me when invited up. When Kale came along, she stopped being interested in sleeping with us, instead preferring to sleep on a cushy soft bed undisturbed. She was a patient and tolerant companion to Kale as a baby, growing ever-so-slightly more affectionate as he grew, too.
She didn’t do too much this past few years. Still hated all the other dogs, still would steal food from pretty much anywhere if given the chance, and still would sleep for literally 18 hours a day. I used to joke that all that sleep is what preserved her.
She had so many names: Mooki, Mooki Face, Moo, Moo-Moo, Mookster, Mook Master Flex, Fuzzface, and Moo Brown were all common names. She answered to pretty much none of them, preferring instead to live in her shiba-bubble of selective hearing and selective obeying. Mooki was never my pet, she and I were co-habitants, and I, her staff more than her owner. Her feet were fuzzy daggers that smelled like popcorn. Her ears were feather soft. Her black, cold, wet nose always a button that needed beeping.
I will miss Mooki dearly. Although her death is certainly not a surprise, it has hit me like a sack of hammers to the gut, and I find myself having pangs of regret for not truly understanding the impact she had on me while she was alive. Perhaps that is the lesson we should take from our pets.
Rest in peace, Mooki.
â€œDogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.â€ â€“ Roger Caras