Kelly Danek's Dog Blog: It's Never Easy

When you know it's almost time

October 18, 2018

“We’ve got to get her a puppy,” I kept telling my husband Chuck back in the spring of 2005. At the time, we had a 3-year-old 40-pound rambunctious Boston Terrier named Trudy, who was making life a bit hellacious for our two older dogs, Schnauzers Winnie, 14, and Clive, 12.  All the older dogs wanted was to relax and enjoy their golden years without Trudy constantly trying to spar with them. 

Enter Wrigley, a 3-month old salt-n-pepper male Schnauzer. We went to look at him at a home in Spring Valley. There was a female Schnauzer pup as well, but Wrigley hopped up and down, whimpering as if he was begging, “Pick me! Please pick me!” It was almost as if he knew he was going to have the time of his life living with us.

Somewhat gangly, yet full of piss and vinegar, it didn’t take long for Wrigley to become acclimated to Trudy’s rough and tumble persona. In fact, he gave her a run for her money most times. A bit of a hellion in his own right, he rarely backed down to the sister almost twice his size. When not cuddling, the two of them were racing around the house, tugging at toys and wrestling like the best of friends. 

We experienced temporary heartbreak the day Wrigley spent the day at the vet for his neutering. Having only had him a little over a week, Trudy moped around the house all day looking for her puppy. Deeply puzzled by the situation, she would gaze up at us with sad Boston eyes as if to say, “Why would you bring him into my life if you were only going to take him away?” 

Trudy’s joy — and ours — was restored once Wrigley returned, and under close supervision, the duo soon got back to their usual antics. 

Wrigley becoming such an integral part of our family, Trudy got her boy toy, while Winnie and Clive got the peace we had hoped for; what we didn’t count on was the sweetness and respect little “Wrigs” bestowed upon his Schnauzer sister and brother. As the older dogs began moving slower, we would at times witness Wrigley almost escorting them from room to room, staying in step with them, and sometimes snuggling in with them once they reached their destination. He saved all of his roughhousing for Trudy.

Over time, the once-gangly salt & pepper pup grew into a more silver-hued, robust and quite beautiful Schnauzer. No doubt he was always our most vocal dog, either out of joy, playfulness, territoriality or with some sort of gripe. One big gripe of his turned out to be a skin allergy he developed about seven years ago. It was painful to watch him scratching and gnawing, all-the while whining miserably, but once grain-free foods were brought in, all of that subsided. 

Fast forward to now. Winnie and Clive long gone, and Trudy having crossed the Rainbow Bridge two years ago, it is now Wrigley who struggles. Loud and good-natured, yet a bit of a curmudgeon at times, his hearing is faint, his eyesight is poor, and signs of arthritis and dementia seem to monopolize his movement and reasoning. Congestive heart failure having recently been diagnosed, his quality of life is sadly diminishing.  He tries his best to keep up with our five other dogs, even clumsily joining in on a game of fetch now and then, but it is his whimpering and wailing of pain throughout the night that hold the solemn reminder that the end is drawing near for our boy.

When the time comes — and it will be soon — we plan to have a veterinarian come to the house and perform the euthanization, like we did with Trudy.  A bit pricier than having our vet do it at her clinic, yet more ceremonial, as our other dogs will get a chance to say their goodbyes and perhaps obtain the necessary closure, than simply having him walk out the door and out of their lives. 

Meanwhile, we will do all we can to see that Wrigs is as comfortable as possible during his last days, by giving him his heart medicine, pain pills and maybe even a few forbidden foods, especially toward the end. We will continue to hold him close, stroke his coat, scratch his ears, kiss the top of his head, and know deep in our hearts we truly did give that once-gangly little pup the time of life he had hoped for.