September 18, 1999 – April 11, 2015
Boomer came into my life in October 2006 when he was 7 years old. He had been an unwanted third dog of a friend of my friend Christi, and she brought him to my home after her dog Jake died. I was Boomer’s third owner. From what I was told, he originally was trained as a search-and-rescue dog, but didn’t have the right temperament. After that he was a companion dog to an older woman who (supposedly) had to give him up due to a change in her living arrangements. (It was her daughter that had him as the unwanted third dog.)
At first I was ambivalent to Boomer, but as time went on, I grew to love him as a valued companion. He added so much to my life – companionship, loyalty, friendship and unconditional love. Years ago I made a promise to him that he would be with me “until death do us part”.
Shortly after he came to live with me, I adopted him as MY dog, and signed up for training classes at Petsmart. The classes at Petsmart were more for me than for him, because he was already very well trained. But I learned how dogs learn, and how to interact with Boomer to elicit the responses and behaviors that I wanted. They also provided an early opportunity for us to bond. After graduation, I had a much better sense of what it takes to be a good dog owner.
One of the things Boomer loved the most was walks. Since I am not a believer in attaching a leash to a dog’s collar, I bought a harness, and the first time I put it on him and took him out for a walk he was uncertain of what this activity was all about. After that, however, the mere sight of me taking the harness from its storage place was enough to generate happy excitement. After I took up cycling, he quickly learned that every bike ride was followed by a walk, and at the sight of me preparing for a ride, his excitement and anticipation of the walk to come was a joy to behold.
Boomer was always good with people. He never approached a human with anything other than happy greeting. He was not always so good with other dogs, however, especially when he was on the leash. After the first few tangles with other dogs while on walks, I learned to keep him away from them. Off leash, he was fine, but I was always wary about him interacting with other dogs.
After a few years, I installed dog doors in my house so that he could go outside at his leisure. I soon saw that he LOVED the outside, to the point where he would often sleep outside (except in winter) and would spend his days outdoors when I was not at home. This in turn became a problem because he barked excessively at times. I learned of this issue through a couple complaints from neighbors, and had to restrict his outside time during the days when I was at work.
After Boomer turned 12 years old, I started to think about his mortality and wonder when he would start to fail. I was pleasantly surprised by his continued robust health and longevity as time went on. Indeed, on one of his semi-annual visits to the veterinarian, I was complimented for HIS good health!
As Boomer turned 15 on the fall of 2014, I took him to the vet for his checkup and learned that he was starting to have arthritis in his spine and was a little bit underweight. I started giving him Prednisone and added wet food to his diet. This helped him to maintain his health a little bit longer, but at his checkup in March 2015 his spinal neuropathy had progressed to the point his rear legs were getting weak and his mobility was starting to be impaired.
In just the month since then, his situation worsened to the point that a few nights ago I heard him barking in the back yard at midnight. I went outside to see what was up, and saw that he was unable to get up by himself. I carried him into the house and set him down, and he was unable to walk normally for a while. I took him to an emergency vet clinic and he improved, but that was the sign it was time to consider euthanizing him. After discussing his situation with the emergency vet and his normal vet and obtaining their consensus that the time was right, I started to give the matter serious thought.
In researching the topic of pet euthanasia online, I found a couple of assessments that helped me decide that while he may continue to be viable for a short while longer, in watching him visibly deteriorate just since last month, combined with the incident where he couldn’t get up I decided that I could not stand the thought of him being in distress while nobody was home to help him.
I made the decision to put him to rest on Tuesday April 6th, and set up the appointment for Saturday. I contacted Caring Pathways to come to my home to perform the euthanasia, and I scheduled the appointment for Saturday afternoon, so that I would have a chance to take him for one last walk Saturday morning.
Watching Boomer deteriorate and having to make this decision and hold him while he died have been very difficult – in fact, more difficult than I expected. However, if that is the cost of having had Boomer in my life, I have paid it gladly. That is how much he meant to me.
I will go forward in my life in the hope that we will be reunited in heaven.
Boomer, thanks for being such a great dog – I’ll miss you so much.
Additional note: I appreciated the compassion shown by Dr. Mary Anne, the “When Your Pet Dies” booklet she left with us, and the sympathy card. I truly believe that Caring Pathways is THE compassionate choice in a supremely difficult time.