This is a tough one. Here goes…
I still remember the day I got Busta. I don’t remember how it came about that I was getting a puppy, but I do remember going to the breeder’s house and seeing the beautiful litter of puppies and just falling in love. I knelt down to say hello and this clumsy little ball off fluff ran up and collapsed in my lap, it was if he chose me, and not the other way round. I’m glad he did choose me that day because he really is one in a billion.
Busta is 12 years old now and as much as it hurts to think about, his time with us is coming to an end and sooner or later we have to face the painful decision to let him go with dignity and peace. Knowing when to make that decision is not an easy one and it is something that, lately, has been consuming my thoughts.
Look. At. Him!
Let me give you a little backstory. When I was 5 or 6 years old my family got a dog. Jack was a Kelpie x Staffy and he was awesome. He really was like another kid in our household (although I think he had a slightly higher ranking than my brother and I). I think I could quite honestly say he was my best friend in the whole world when I was a kid. Our family loved that dog so much we have so many amazing memories growing up with him. To this day we still sit around at times and tell our favourite memories of him. My parents loved that dog fiercely and when he got old and frail I think that love prevented them from making the decision to put him down and end his pain and suffering.
// My brother and I used to fight over who would get to be squashed by the dog all night. He would take up all the room on the bed and if you moved and disturbed him in any way he’d growl at you, but we’d fight for him none the less.
// How dope is the early 90’s sequined Bali cap!? Ha! Man I loved that dog.
I always vowed that when Busta was old and in pain, I wouldn’t allow him to suffer and I would make the best decision for him, no matter how painful it was for me. But now that I’m getting closer to that time, I can see why it’s such a difficult decision to make. Anyone who has ever had a pet dog knows what I’m talking about. They are just as much a member of the family as any brother, sister or parent and they fill our lives with such love and joy. Knowing when it’s the right time is next to impossible, and the thought of saying goodbye is too painful to bear.
About a year ago I was out somewhere and when I came home Hubs told me that Busta had been acting strangely. He was off his food, he kept shaking every now and then and just seemed off. I thought ‘this is it, we’re losing him’. We took him to the vet, and as they examined him I was crying uncontrollably. All the memories I had of him and all the love I felt came crashing over me and I was devastated. But the vet gave him some medicine and by the time we got home Busta was better and the shaking and weird behaviour hasn’t happened again. Ever since that episode, it’s been in the back of my mind that, given his old age, we really could lose him any day now.
// Busta meets Angus. This photo sums them up really. They seem to only tolerate each other. But these two are the best of friends.
When I was at the end of studying my diploma, I had a breakdown. I was stressed and falling behind and I pretty much thought my life was over. I remember being 23 and being curled up in the foetal position crying and just plain freaking out. Busta would not leave my side. He sat there with his head in my lap, just loving me and being there for me. It was like he knew I needed him and so he was there. For hours, just sitting there with me. When I was 40 weeks pregnant with my first baby and about to pop, he would sit by me and look at me with concern, like he knew what I was about to go through bringing this kid into the world and he wanted to protect me. There’s a reason they call dogs man’s best friend.
It’s memories like this that just make it so damn hard to know when say goodbye. These dogs are friends and companions and protectors and confidants. They do so much for us, and the least we can do is return the favour when they need us the most.
The thing is, like that time we took Bussy to the vet and he got better, he still to this day has his moments. One day he will sleep all day and not be able to control his bladder and I think it’s time, and the next day I’ll take him for a walk and he’ll run and pull and act like a puppy and I think there’s no way he’s ready to go.
// Tough guy
So, I did what most of us do when faced with the big questions in life these days. I googled it. ‘How do you know when it’s time to put your dog down?’ Of course there are so many different opinions on the subject. One article I read said it is better to be early than one second too late. I’ve had people tell me that you just know. I’ve seen my first dog fight through pain to hold on to the bitter end, and still l have no idea what the answer is.
My only hope is that when that time does finally come for Busta I will have the strength and intuition to make the best decision for him and let him go with the peace and love and dignity that he deserves.
// My heart