Monday, July 2, 2012

'Ode to Odie'

January, '96 - 2 July, 2012
(last picture of Dingo, taken 17 June, 2012)

(If you don't want to read all of this, at least skip down to the video. It's awesome.)

I remember sitting in a fast and testimony meeting years ago. This middle-aged single man stood up and bore a brief testimony saying that his dog had died and he wrote a song for the dog that he wanted to share. I remember that later being referred to as an 'Ode to Odie' (not the real title of his song, but a slightly mocking one given by a family member of mine). Don't worry, I'm not about to write a song and share it, but I do want to say a few things.

This is from an email that I sent my dad tonight while he's overseas on a Navy ship (coming home late Wednesday night!) --

About an hour ago, I sent this text out to the siblings -

'Just so you all know. Dingo is on the roof*. Okay, I mean... We had Dingo put down tonight. Hard decision. Right decision. I'm sure Granddad is throwing frisbees for him right now.'

For the past four or five days I've been praying to know when Dingo should go down. Last night I decided that I needed to state my opinion on the matter ('not yet') and see how I felt about it, praying that I'd know what the answer was. When trying to say that I didn't think it was time yet, it took me several tries before I could get out the phrase, 'I don't think it's time.' I didn't want to take that as my answer, but I was open to that possibility. This morning, again, I prayed about it. I got the phrase out a little easier, but it didn't really feel right. When I left for work I saw him on his bed in the garage. He lifted his head, and I stopped to pet him like always. It kind of hit me then, though I didn't really let myself think about it for a few more hours, that it was time for him to go. He's been in pain, and I had been convincing myself that because he kept getting excited for his walks, he was fine and still enjoying life. While I don't think he was completely miserable, I do know that he wasn't feeling great. And I know we all saw signs of that.

A co-worker of mine brought in a puppy this morning that she was selling, and meeting the buyers close to work. I held the puppy and it had these big ears like Dingo did when we first got him. While holding her, I told my co-worker that I thought it was time for me to put have Dingo put down. That was the first time I had said it out loud. After we (I went with her) took the puppy to her new owners, I told her again that I thought it was time. From that moment on, I cried on and off all day. I still have a headache from it all. But through all the crying, I really felt like it was the right time. I still do. I know I said that if he could walk into the vet by himself than it wasn't time yet. I was wrong. And God let me know it. And Dingo did too.

He's lived a great life and probably deserves 'best dog in the world' award. Adam made the comment that as uncomfortable as Dingo had to be, he was still great with the kids. Patient and gentle, just like always.

So, once it was decided, I figured it was time. I hope you'll understand that. Mom and I took him to the vet and walked him around the property first. He was still pulling on the leash. I just feel so blessed to have had him in my life for 16 years. He's been wonderful.

Some of the highlights. No way I can hit them all.
  • we bought dingo from a frisbee dog show at the clark county fair when i was 14 (i thought i was 15, but recently found out i've been wrong - see below)
  • he had these huge ears on this little head and that were just adorable.
  • i cuddled up with him in the back seat of the van for the hour-long ride home because he was whimpering a little bit on the way home. as soon as i curled around him he curled up and settled in.
  • early on he started tossing a bottle cap he found on the floor up in the air and catching it on it's way down.
  • my mom bought a jingle ball for him which didn't keep his interest for too long, but did enjoy chasing.
  • my mom bought a stack of frisbees and told me to go out and start working with him (the frisbee dog people had told us step-by-step how to train him to be a frisbee dog). i rolled the frisbee on the ground to try to get him interested. he lost interest really fast. i graduated to the little tosses in front of him. he caught them, then looked bored. i said, 'all right, fine.' and chucked the frisbee. he took off and that was it. he was a natural. there was no training necessary. he gave us some really good frisbee-catching years. jumping, twisting, and sometime sacrificing the catch in order to provide a show.
  • he'd sleep on my bed whenever i was home. but it wasn't enough to just sleep on my bed. he had to move up to the head of the bed and then nose his way under the covers, sliding his body right next to mine. he was an awesome little space heater in the winter, and a little too much heat in the summer. but he loved being close. as years passed he started staying more on the foot of my bed. i was always amazed at how much space he'd take for not being a big dog. (then the time came when he couldn't get up on my bed by himself so I started boosting him up. then finally, he didn't want to get up on my bed anymore, i'm guessing because it hurt too much for him to get down. so i got him a dog bed and put it right next to mine. i loved that he still wanted to be close.)
  • fast forward years later, i'm worried that he's forgotten me while i was on my mission for 18 months. i walk through the house to the backyard and he runs across the yard to meet me. he remembered me!
  • today i tell my brother and sister-in-law that his time has come. adam asks how old dingo is and when i tell him '15,' he thinks about it and says that he's almost positive we had dingo when adam came home from his mission. which makes dingo 16. and a half. so he gained another year in his last few hours of life. not bad for an old boy.
  • mixed in there we had some great running years together. he was a great running partner, and even in this last year of his life would get excited when he saw me in my running clothes because he knew what that meant. even if i couldn't take him with me. there was the summer we ran 2 miles 6 days a week and as the summer progressed my sister made the comment, 'dingo's lost a lot of weight!' (i never earned that same comment that summer. not fair.)
  • through the years he's been my shadow, my companion, my best listener, and giver of unconditional love.
  • even as recently as yesterday he was kind of jumping around when he knew we were going on a walk. that's part of what made it so hard to make the decision. he still loved walks even though he was slowing down.
  • i cry on and off through the day today when i start thinking about him. several co-workers suffered through it (thank you!). my mom drives us to the vet. i cry on the way to the vet. i cry while at the vet. i cry through the procedure. i feel better almost as soon as it's over. it was the right decision and that is what is making it possible for me to not be a total wreck the way i thought i would be when i anticipated this event in my head.

If you lasted through all of this, I'm impressed. It was more for me. I needed the outlet.

I believe in an afterlife, and I believe that I'll have Dingo back. God is too kind to leave us without relationships that are so meaningful to us here. (human-to-human and human-to-animal. some animals. mostly dogs. just kidding... kind of...) (: So while it's definitely not a fun experience, it isn't the end of the world either. And it is so worth the 16 great years he gave us.

Thanks Dink. I love you puppy.

On a lighter note, this video is awesome. It makes me tear up. And I don't think that's only because I'm slightly emotionally charged today. (:

*an old joke that's posted here


partingsorrow said...

All dogs go to heaven. I know it's so hard to lose our 4 legged best friends. Hugs.

Fondario Family said...

Skirts, I told you all dogs go to heaven, see, even Big Tomatoes agrees. Thinking of you and crying too.

eden said...

you guys are awesome. and i totally agree. he's definitely earned his place in heaven. (:

Roskelley Ramblings said...

Sorry Eden - I know how much you loved that dog. You did the right thing - that is what is important. You have a good heart...Linda

Roskelley Ramblings said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kathy w. said...

So sorry to hear this. 16 years is a long time and a lot of memories. Glad you were able to be there with him at the end.

Bryson and Tara said...

I got teary-eyed reading your post and watching that amazing video. I'm thinking about you.