I have seen the decline this year, especially since June when I was sure it was time, but then he seemed to rally yet again and we carried on with life the best we could. But the last two weeks there has been noticeable change, a real challenge for him to get up, even slower than before when going outside to go the bathroom, the challenges of going to the bathroom. Monday night it seemed to all come crashing down, he was visibly shaking and needed to be carried down the steps. Tuesday morning when I got up, he couldn't get up, his back legs unable to support him. I had to make the call.
Scout was the gentlest soul, even as a puppy he never once put his mouth on us. Although he did have a great taste for paper, ripping it up and eating it. We just learned to not keep loose paper laying around. One year he got it in his head that he would help open one of my Christmas presents, before Christmas, while it was still under the tree. My copy of Anne Lamott's Small Victories will forever have a chunk missing out of the paper front cover.
He was the best adventure companion, even though we only had about six months of adventures together before it got too hard for me to get him in and out of the car, and his ability for long walks was gone. Still those hikes in the autumn-colored woods will forever hold a special place in my heart. And our picnics at roadside parks, me eating my Subway sandwich, him demolishing his kibble in six quick gulps. He finally learned to enjoyed car rides on those adventures, stretching out on the backseat, happy to have the space all to himself.
He has been such a guiding light these last six months with the addition of little Findley, patiently teaching him the ins and outs of going outside to go to the bathroom, going for walks, and letting Findley play fight and chew on him. I pray that eventually more of Scout's gentle nature will find its way into Findley.
While I am filled with oceans of tears and sadness, there is also a huge wave of relief that has washed over me. I lived in constant fear that he would stumble down the stairs and hurt himself, or that he wouldn't be able to get up when either it was just me or Mallory at home, and we wouldn't be able to lift him. We were nearing a decision this week anyway, the timeline just got moved up a little bit. All in God's perfect timing.
Last night standing in the dining room, I watched as Mallory went to the dog food cupboard and scooped food for her dog. For the first time in thirty years, I didn't have a dog of my own to feed. Loss changes us.