Friday, as we entered the waiting room at the vet, she hobbled in and plopped herself down on the floor without making a sound. My heart sank, realizing that something was really very wrong because she normally yaps and whines the whole time we are there.
The vet, who is a family friend, gave Nago a very thorough exam before confirming my fears with his suspicions that something was wrong neurologically. She may have suffered a stroke or there may have been additional tumors affecting nerve function. Unfortunately without driving several hours to the nearest specialist with an MRI, there is no way to know for sure but as I have stated before, because of her age, we would not pursue any aggressive treatment for her so it was a moot point. I called and talked to Joe briefly, but I already knew he would agree with me. Not being able to properly walk around and no longer showing interest in simple things like eating, Nago's quality of life had greatly diminished. It was time to say our good-byes and put her down. She went peacefully with me holding and petting her, just as I had done for Utah only 5 months earlier.
And I am going to feel guilty for saying this and I will be crying as I write this, but I have not particularly enjoyed being a dog owner for the last year. It has not been easy watching them, as their health deteriorates, as they no longer can do the things they used to do, the things you want them to be able to do and that they themselves want to do. It has been hard to make medical decisions concerning their care and worry about doing what is best for them, not wanting to be selfish by hanging on for too long but hating the thought of having to let go.
Although I am sad, I know that for both dogs we did the best we could. I think we made the right decision at the right time for both of them. I am so thankful that they both got to live long and happy lives as a part of our family. I often think about that for Nago especially, as if we would not have adopted her when we did, her life would have been cut very short because of the circumstances. They were both an integral part of our family and they will be missed.
On Friday, after returning from the vet, informing both the kids that Nago had died and feeling the emptiness of our house, now dogless for the first time in 12 years, I posted about it on Facebook and I have to say the response I got has left me overwhelmed and touched. Thirty-five different people have commented, from people who knew Nago when we got her in Okinawa, to people who were around her at Pendleton in her heyday, family, friends local to us now and some who never met her but know the sadness of losing a pet. I think my Aunt Sue summed it best when she commented, "Don't you LOVE how we all understand this wasn't "just" a pet. Our animals are loved and treasured and a part of our families. Just like a child can never be replaced...that part of your heart will always belong to Nago." I don;t think I could have said it better myself.
Rest in peace Sweet Nago. You will always have a special place in our heart.