Wallace was 18. In dogs years that’s … well, really old. And today he breathed his last.
He and his sister were dropped on us when they were very little pups. The original idea was that we’d keep them long enough to find them a good home. Turns out, my home was the good home they needed.
For the last 24 years there’s been at least one dog in my backyard. Some were good, some were trouble. But, Wallace was the best of them. He had a sort of noble bearing about him. Definitely the alpha dog. And any other dogs knew it. He was a loyal companion, a careful protector, and a friend to my children. All in all, a mighty fine dog.
His decline started last year when his sister died. By this morning he was stone deaf, his eyes were fading, he was riddled with cancer, he had a large, bulbous tumor under his tail and another growing on his neck. Despite being Autumn, his poor circulation hampered his ability to begin growing his winter coat. And he was miserable. So today, Megan and I mustered the courage necessary to do the right thing. We took him to PAWS and had him put to sleep.
And we cried.
This is the photo I took of Wallace, standing in the back of my CR-V today as we readied him for his final trip to the vet. He looks gaunt, weak, bedraggled, not anything like the vibrant, energetic dog he once was. But his eyes were steady as he looked out one last time on his yard. Then he laid down. And he didn’t get up again.
My quarter-century of dog ownership has come to an end. I think my dog days are finished. These days, I’m simplifying and cutting back. But the yard sure looks empty. In fact, for the first time in 24 years, this afternoon I opened the gate and left it open. It was like a memorial to the dogs who had come and gone.
I know everything that is born eventually dies. And I know that 18 years is a good, long life for canines. But, I’m sure going to miss him.
Goodbye, my old friend. I’m paying you the highest compliment a dog can earn —
“You’re a good boy.”