When the time comes to say good-bye

As I sit down to write what could be called a eulogy, the sun is pouring in through the window. I like to think this is Konan telling me, It’s ok, Mom. I’m ok.

Before my husband took him to the vet tonight, he took this photo of us. I think you can see in his eyes he knew he was about to cross the Rainbow Bridge. In my heart, I knew it, too. Earlier in the day, I made sure to spend some time with him, petting him, and I even sang to him. I tried not to cry, because as the mom, you don’t want your baby to feel or pick up on your sadness. You want them to think everything is ok.

Knowing the end is near and that it is for the best doesn’t make saying good-bye any easier. Reading texts from my husband as I sat in Dairy Queen, sharing a funnel cake and ice cream with our toddler who doesn’t understand he won’t see Konan again, I tried not to cry again. I felt bad I couldn’t be there for my husband (who also had to be there at my cat’s side a few years ago when we said good-bye) and for my dog. For the jerk that Konan had become to some people, he clearly loved and seemed protective of Cub (likely why he was a jerk to others), and Cub wasn’t intimidated or bothered at all by his 100 pound dog.

The universe has a way of coming full circle. Many people know the story of Konan: when he was young, ruptured his ACLs, required surgery, it was expensive, we fundraised to help us cover the costs because my husband was in school, and from that experience, Doug created The Konan Koalition to help other families cover the cost of expensive surgeries.

And tonight we found ourselves facing the very decision many families we helped (or couldn’t help) had to face…our now old dog had ruptured the suctures from his surgery, had an infection in his leg, and is beginning to show signs of dementia. It would cost a couple thousand to fix. We could try meds and physio, also expensive, and no guarantee that would work. The irony wasn’t lost on either of us as we texted back and forth until we agreed, “This was it.”

Konan joined our family because my husband wanted a dog, and yet he became my dog. I fondly remember him shitting on a yoga mat as I talked on the phone to my boss, unable to get him outside. We enjoyed many play dates at Sutherland Beach dog park. My first cat, Patches, tolerated and played with him a bit, but not to the extent our second cat, Jeremy, did. Jeremy loved that dog, and we often joked Jeremy thought he, too, was a dog, because he always wanted to rough house with Konan. All three of our kids loved Konan, and he never showed anything but love back.

Konan scared the shit out of many a friend and foe, partly because he was a big dog with a big bark. We admit he became a bit of a jerk by the end in his old age. But to us, he was a big lug with a big heart who grumbled when you tried to cuddle with him. I’m certain he’s in doggie heaven with Patches, chasing her as she hisses and swats at him. He’s running joyously and pain-free through water (though not too much), chasing and eating sticks as big as fence posts, hopping around like a goof with other dogs.

Thank you to everyone who over the years has supported The Konan Koalition and the SPCA, which is where we brought Konan home from. Thank you also to the U of S small animal clinic for all their kindness and compassion over the years (when Konan used to go for physio, he was a memorable guy!). From all the comments I’ve read so far, our silly mutt touched a lot of people, and that makes me feel good. Until we meet again…

5 Comments

  1. Darla, I was stunned and saddened to hear of Konan’s passing. I’ve met Lux at different SSDR events but never your lovely Dane mix. Your words have given me hope for what is in the near future for our own 11 year old pitbull mix. I appreciate how very hard that decision was to make but in the end it was always YOUR decision and know one else so that know one can judge. Because only you (and Doug) could have loved Konan with the profound depth of love that was nurtured over the years by sloppy wet kisses, tug-of-war matches and night time serenade-like snoring (Konan’s not Doug’s). I have more courage now than ever to do what is right for Jinx when the day comes (he too is experiencing the onset of dementia and the symptoms of Cushings). We will hold him tight, say our ‘I love you’s” and know that in the end he had a great life filled with uncompromising love. Run free Konan. You lived, you loved, you conquered. We can’t ask for anything more. (Love and hugs to all of you from the Friesens)

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