Poor old Bo has been declining rapidly over the past month. He went from deaf and senile, but fairly hearty, to frail and confused. His back legs gave out a few times. Every time we'd think the end was near, though, he would rally, and his healthy appetite and pleasure in basking in the sun made it clear he was still enjoying his life. Last Thursday, though, something snapped. I suppose it was probably a stroke or something. He stopped eating, couldn't navigate through a door or to his water dish, and held his head at a strange angle. His back legs were weak. But he didn't seem to be in pain, so we waited to see what he'd look like on Friday. He wasn't better on Friday, and he couldn't stop walking in circles, but it was a beautiful day and he seemed so content sleeping in the sun that I couldn't stand to have him put down. I thought he might get better, or fall asleep and just not wake up.
But he didn't. I don't think he was in pain, but all weekend he was disoriented, weak, and couldn't walk or stand straight. This morning we called the vet. I had hoped he could come to our house so Bo could die at home, but he couldn't come until Thursday. So we took him to the vet's. The kids said they would be okay, and I wanted them there for Bo if they could manage it. The vet and his assistant couldn't have been nicer. Bo collapsed and had to be carried into the treatment room on a gurney, but the they waited while I fed him most of a bag of dog treats (his appetite returned at the last moment!). Usually he is terribly nervous at the vet's, but today he seemed calm, almost cheerful. He gobbled up all his treats, except the last piece which he held in his mouth, and then nestled up against the assistant. She cradled him, I petted him, and the vet talked to him and stroked him while he gave him the injection. He just slipped off without even a twitch. That last bit, when his eyes went dead, was awful for the kids (and not so great for me) but they were brave. He died feeling safe, and I guess that's the best we could do for him. He was a good dog.*
* And according the the dog/human-ages wall chart at the vet's office, at 16 years, which he was as of February, Bo was 99 in human years. Well lived, Bo!