He wasn’t always a good dog; sometimes he was bad. But he’ll always be remembered as the best.
Update: Full/really long, emotionally-charged braindump after the jump. Erin and I have already talked about all of this shit, so I feel okay posting it here.
Last Monday: MurphDawg had to go to the puppy ER/ICU for either a brain tumor or—more likely—a stroke manifesting itself in “vestibular disease” (vertigo) and various nervous-system malfunctions. I wasn’t at Erin’s place when she got home from work, but I wish I could have been. It was bad.
Last Tuesday: MurphDawg was still in the ICU, and Erin said he looked bad, but was maybe a little bit better, if not scared shitless. Erin came over later that night and helped me move some shit in and stayed over. Understandably, she couldn’t stay at her place without Murph; it was just too weird for her.
Wednesday: MurphDawg was still in the ICU, and things were still up in the air as to whether or not Erin and I were making the trip to Yorktown to spend the holiday with her family. Honestly and understandably, Erin was having a hard time dealing with her ailing best friend and impending Thanksgiving commitments. It was a difficult phone conversation to have while I was at work, but I had to play the realist. Either we were staying in Northern VA and taking care of Murphy, or we were leaving him in the capable hands of the veterinarians at the hospital and going to Yorktown; traveling with Murph, given his condition, was completely out of the question. Choose one. Then she went to the hospital to visit Murph. He wasn’t any better.
Thanksgiving: We stayed. Erin tearfully decided that morning that the best thing to do was to end Murphy’s suffering, and put him down. I, personally and honestly, think that was not just the “right” thing to do… at that point, it was really the only thing to do with Murphy’s best interest in mind.
We went to the hospital and got a private room and waited. Every other day that Erin had been there to visit Murph, she had to go in the back and visit him at the crate. She expected the same. We heard random unseen dogs walking and huffing past the closed door, but she sat up in her chair with a start and said, “That’s Murphy!” only moments before the two vet-techs opened the door with him. He was in really bad shape. Erin says that Murphy didn’t even recognize her, but I think he did—and even recognized me a little bit since he was trying to get up and walk toward us, but couldn’t. “Just let us know when you’re ready,” they told us. I took this to mean that we were ready to leave, after which they’d take MurphDawg back to the back and do the ultimate. But, that’s not what they meant.
The vet came in and started unwrapping his front-left paw’s ankle where a syringe had previously been taped. At that point, I realized that the syringe wasn’t there as a stop-gap IV; he was going to sleep right there in the room with us. I was completely fucking horrified at the realization, I wanted to bail, I didn’t want to be in that room when it happened, I didn’t want to see Murphy as anything but alive, even after I knew he wasn’t anymore. I almost said, “I can’t be here for this,” and left the room… but then I had another realization: Regardless of how fucked up I was going to be in seeing Murphy die in front of my own eyes, it was going to be a million times harder for Erin to see it.
So I stayed, and it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever fucking seen.
It was quick, less than two minutes elapsed from when the vet started pushing the red liquid into the tube, and when she said, “He’s gone now.” Of course, I cried some, but MurphDawg wasn’t my best friend, he was just an obstinant fucker I loved a lot. Erin was fucking crushed, and that was hard for me to deal with… because, y’know, I was there in a supportive role… there for Erin first.
I had no idea that the death of Murphy would affect me as much as it did (does). He fell to the eternal sleep at 1:50pm on November 25, 2004.
Given that my father had his ultimately-fatal heart attack the night after Thanksgiving back in 1999 (five years ago tomorrow):
Fuckin’ Happy Thanksgiving. Again? Fuck Thanksgiving!
Of course, all of my bitterness at the situation is jackshit compared to Erin’s ruined holiday plans with her family, and—y’know—losing her best friend of fourteen years. This whole thing sucks for her, for me, for her family… but bad things happen to good people. Well, bad things happen to everyone, really… but this overall shittiness is going to last for a long time.
I think I’m up for it.