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Losing Renegade

Making hard decions

* some may find to sad to read *

We brought him home as a 6 month old puppy. Our only pet. We named him Renegade after a college mascot. ( funny how 13 years later my daughter attends that school!) He was the only for many years. Protecting us, loving us, inseparable. When he hit 9 years old we assumed his time was limited and got another pup, Duke. It took 3 solid months to get Renegade to accept the puppy but he did, and he loved him so.

We added another dog, this time a girl, Gracie. Couldn't pass her up, she's a beautiful purebred German Shepherd. Renegade hated her. He snapped at her and made her feel as an outsider to the "pack". I guess I never realized how deeply she felt that until Renegade was gone.

Now, as the years passed, Renegade got cataracts, he lost some hearing and walked a little stiffer. The past year he would wander into a corner and stare into space forgetting how he got there. He became crankier and nippier with Gracie. We watched with sadness and the realization he would not last forever.

More time passed and he went on arthritis medication to control the aches. Christmas time and he started having difficulty laying down or getting back up. It got worse. We took him to the vet and he said "Yep, he's old." 13 to be exact. A month later he never seems to sleep, it hurts to lay down. We bring him back to the vet. Blood tests are run and an extensive exam is done.

Surprisingly, it is not his hips as the Dr and we have always thought. He has degenerative myelopathy. He will lose all sensation to his lower half and eventually be paralyzed. We had at best months. So we took him home and loved on him. We picked him up when he fell and couldn't get up. The weaker he got, the crankier he got with the dogs.

He being the alpha felt scared to be losing control. The other dogs felt it too. Renegade snapped at the dogs a lot, especially Gracie and they would attack him. We started separating them when we weren't home. Renegade would now go hours before collapsing to lay down.

March 10th. After having a very bad weekend we brought him back to the vet. He panted heavily and could barely keep his lower half functioning. We had been questioning ourselves every day for months.. When is enough, enough? We wish he could talk to us and tell us he's ready. But he can't. This time, the Dr. Told us for him. "It's time. Renegade is tired and stressed by losing his power, he is now fearful and attacking. He will get hurt. "

We made the appointment for Monday 3/17. We spent the week spoiling him rotten, filling him with treats. We took him to the beach, his favorite spot on Saturday and he could barely enjoy it he was so tired. We went to bed Sunday knowing this was the last night Renegade would live with us. We didn't sleep.

We made the appt for late in the day so we didn't have to go back to work afterward. I started to feel sick to my stomach as the time got closer. We went home and asked him if he wanted to go for a ride. He wouldn't go out the door. Now usually he would hobble as fast as he could to leave. I almost had to call and cancel our appointment because I was losing my strength.

We got him finally to come outside.

He sniffed around the car like usual but didn't want to climb in. This had become normal because it hurt to climb up and he had to be supported. We got him in the car. He no longer hangs out the window, tongue lolling in the breeze. He lays down on the seat and sniffs.

At the vets, he didn't want to walk in. Which isn't completely odd since the last time he had a bunch of painful blood work and had to be muzzled. We sat and waited. The room was somber. We were the last patient for the day.

Around the corner came the friendly chatty vet tech, who had tears in her eyes. I guess they never get used to it. We brought him into the room and got him on the table. They asked us if we were ready. We said yes. ( how wrong those words were )

They had to muzzle him because of the last blood work/ vein incident. Once they got the needle in the unmuzzled him. No one wanted his last thoughts to be of being muzzled.

Once again, the Dr asked if we were ready. Everyone in the room started talking to Renegade telling him what a good boy he was and it was ok he could finally rest now. I looked into his eyes as the drug coursed through his veins, slowing his breathing and letting him sleep before slowing his heart and lungs to a complete stop. I watched the "light" in his eyes go out and then his tongue rolled out of his mouth and his head slump.

All of that took 4 very long seconds.

My sobs racked my body as I felt Renegade leave the room, I whispered over and over I loved him and he was such a good boy.

The Dr listened to his chest and whispered "he's gone" with those words, Renegade was no more.

It was devastating to leave the room with his body slumped over on the table, but I kissed him on the nose one last time and whispered goodbye.

My husband held my hand the whole way home.

In my heart, I knew I had to love him enough to let him go. But that night I couldn't sleep wondering if his refusals to go outside the house or inside the vet were him telling me he wasn't ready. Maybe it was, maybe he was too scared. But I have to believe I did the right thing for him.

It's been four days. I still cry at the drop of a hat. And I feel guilty that we are no longer tripping all over him. Duke is lost, but he'll be ok. Gracie is finally at home. She is part of the pack and seems so different. That too, makes me feel bad.

It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I love you Renegade, for always.

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