As you can imagine, yesterday wasn’t a very good day all around, even as we were all certain we did the right thing. Sprig started to fail on Sunday. At first we thought it was a repeat of the bad indigestion he had a couple months ago. But by Monday evening I was taking him to the animal ER for subcutaneous fluids and an anti-nausea shot, which the vet told me bluntly was “hospice care.”
Whatever it was, it gave him a good night’s sleep. Tuesday I rolled him onto his sternum and he tottered outside and peed like a man, but that was pretty much the end of his locomotion — he’s been growing steadily feebler over the last few months, and it was clear this was just about the end. We went to the vet later, and he said, “He’s working very hard just to stay alive,” and we made the decision. We all petted him, and I held my hand on him until I felt his heart stop. He didn’t move or stir; he just wasn’t there anymore.
Later on, I bought a six-pack of supermarket cupcakes and ate two for dinner. I bloody well deserved it, too.
I’m touched by how many people stopped by to leave comments, but not surprised — this dog made an impression on people. He liked to stick his head out the window when we drove, and there was something about that eyepatch and the mismatched ears that just slayed people, who would roll down the windows to tell him how cute he was. (We called them Spriggy Davidians.) Many times we remarked that if the same personality was in a much bigger, uglier dog, he wouldn’t have survived puppyhood. But when you’re under 20 pounds and adorable, people cut you slack.
I think the template for his life was set when, at 9 months or so, we took him with us when we visited a friend in the Upper Peninsula. He was at his most exhausting, and I was looking forward to taking him somewhere we could let him exhaust himself for a change. (My friend’s cottage is on an island with no cars.) For the most part, he behaved himself, but there was a moment when we looked around and couldn’t see him anywhere. I searched the property, calling him. Nothing. We started to worry; the island, while car-free, is vast and wild in its interior, and all I could think was, he’d seen a deer, chased it into the woods, and was now out of earshot, maybe bogged in a cedar swamp, porcupine quills protruding from his nose, scared and miserable.
We decided on one more thorough search. I went to one side of the property, Alan to the other. Five minutes later, Alan came walking toward me, the dog in his arms, free of swamp mud and quills. He’d found him in the Les Cheneaux Yacht Club, which was having its end-of-summer Bloody Mary brunch. Forget chasing deer; he was chasing spilled popcorn and tipsy ladies willing to feed cheese cubes to cute little dogs. He was recruiting Davidians.
When Alan spotted him, he said, “There you are!” and Spriggy looked over his shoulder, saw his master, and ran in the opposite direction. He cornered him in a dead end near the bathrooms (Gulls and Buoys) and scooped him up. Busted. The ladies all wanted to give him a final pet as he was carried out.
He repeated this behavior the year he slipped away from the Christmas celebration at my sister’s, climbed onto the dining-room table, and ate the remainder of the pork tenderloin. He saw me see him, grabbed one last giant mouthful of sliced pork, leaped off the table and ran to the laundry room, wolfing it down as he went.
I’ve told myself to wait a few more days before picking up the bowls and beds. And a few weeks before we start thinking of another pet. Big shoes shouldn’t be filled quickly.
And thank you for all your notes, public and private. The contributions to the humane society are much appreciated, too. I’m donating his leftover special-diet food to our own local chapter; among the many tragedies of our economic decline has been the number of families leaving the area and leaving pets behind, some of which are old and virtually un-adoptable. Whatever helps, I guess.
So, howsabout some bloggage? OK:
The silver fox does it again, conservatives disapprove. Roy has the roundup.
Another gem from Detroitblog, via the Metro Times: A farm in the city, presided over by an 86-year-old woman who has seen it all:
A year later, just before the ’67 riot, (her son) Howard got into a street fight and police were called. They broke down the door of the King house to find him, and Mary wound up in a wrestling match with a cop.
“I was 260 pounds back then,” she laughs. “I got him right quick and I put him on the ground.” She grabbed his gun and nearly blew his brains out. “The devil was saying, ‘Shoot him! Shoot him!'” she recounts. Instead, Mary got up off the cop. Then she was thrown in the squad car, hit with a baton and bitten in the neck, which required a tetanus shot.
All wasn’t awful yesterday — it was also the premiere of my friend Rob Gulley’s short film, “Nikki & Eli,” at the Mitten Movie Project. It was, I’m pleased to say, very fine. Great job, Rob and all concerned. Remember me when you’re giving interviews in Cannes someday.
And life goes on. At the moment it goes down to the basement and folds the laundry.