Saying Goodbye

Sprocket

Before I begin, note that I say this blog is, “the sometimes funny truth about adulthood.” Unfortunately, not everything in life is humorous, though it would be so much easier if that was true. Since my last post (which I’ll admit was a good while ago), I’ve had a lot to smile and laugh about. Mr. Cooper and I just got back from our honeymoon after finishing up our formal wedding. We moved into my childhood home which we bought from my mom and are no longer renting. Things are going well with us and all of our fur-babies are happy and healthy in their new, bigger bedroom. However, in between all of that, my brother’s dog was diagnosed with Lymphoma and the prognosis was bleak. Six weeks after his diagnosis, he was gone.
His name was Sprocket. He was an Australian/Belgian Shepherd mix that my brother found for sale at an AMA race, and after pleading with my dad, he came home with them. When we got Sprocket, I was 12 and my brother was 8. For the first few years, the two of them were inseparable, but the problem with that was his Shepherd tendencies led him to herd my brother and his friends on their bikes like cattle. As he got older, it became more of a hassle and my brother would often put him in the house (the one I live in now) with me so that he could make a clean get away. We all loved him dearly because he loved us dearly. He was one of those dogs who once you find them, you know you’ll never find another even close to them. He was as loyal as they come and equally as lazy. This is a dog who would purposely dump his food onto the floor so he could lay down and eat. He enjoyed napping on the front hillside, rolling in the grass (and in the winter, the snow), and biting at flies. His favorite thing in the world, however, was getting to eat part of a pork chop and he knew what the word meant, believe me. He was the neighborhood dog in a way, and you could tell by looking at his waistline… or lack thereof. Only once did the wandering become a problem.
At one point, my parents were refinishing the hard wood floors in the dining room as a DIY project, but when they were ready to call it quits for the night, Sprocket was nowhere to be found. After calling for him for half an hour, they decided to leave the front door open to let the fumes air and to allow him a way to get back in the house when he came home. In doing so, they left the wet floor open for destruction. I’m not sure how he managed, but in walking across the floor, he only managed to leave a single paw print right in the walkway. There are no words for how thankful I am for this paw print, and I’ll explain why in a second.
Fast forward to more recent times. My parents divorced several years ago, and in order for my mom to lessen her financial burdens, she moved to a different county with my brother and Sprocket (plus all of their other pets). He was then able to run through corn fields, sun bathe all day, and run free without anyone fearing that he would be hit because they now live in the middle of nowhere. To say that Sprocket had a good life is an understatement. He was well loved, well fed, and experienced all there is for a dog to experience. He herded kids in the city, explored fields in the country, and fathered three litters of puppies before being neutered. But none of that softens the blow of having an expiration date, if you will, put on your beloved dog.
My mom noticed knots that came up under his neck that seemed to have appeared over night. She was concerned that it might be an abscessed tooth and wanted me to check. The knots were huge and he was clearly not himself. When she took him to the vet, almost instantly she was told that it was likely Lymphoma but they would run tests anyway. The vet was right. He was in advanced stages at this point and we had discussed the idea of pursuing treatment, but decided against it when the vet reminded us that at his stage and age, the treatment was not guaranteed to “fix” him and best case scenario, would only buy him a small amount of time. We decided we would rather medicate him to take away the pain, lessen the swelling, and make him normal again for a shorter amount of time than to force him into treatment which would inevitably make him feel worse for a period and may not even work. Looking back now, I have no doubt that we made the right decision because for six weeks, he was Sprocket again. He was happy, energetic, and seemed as though nothing was wrong. Last Monday was different.
For once, I was up before my alarm and I had enough time to let our dogs play in our back yard while I drank my morning coffee and ate my breakfast. Then I got the text. My mom had gone out to give Sprocket his medicine for the day, but he wasn’t in his usual spot. She found him lying next to the house, clearly not feeling well. He refused his meds, his breathing was labored, and the pads on his paws were turning cold and white. She had discussed this day with the vet in advance so that she would know when it was “time” and that was without a doubt it. We couldn’t let him suffer and I know that, but it absolutely killed my soul to meet my mom at the vet, knowing that that was the last ride he’d ever have and enjoy. My brother was still clinging to a thread of hope that there would be some cure for him and he would take him home and snuggle with him again. When the vet asked if we would be taking him home to bury him, reality set it. This was it. This was the only opportunity we would have to say our goodbyes. I cried, hugged him, and said, “I’ll miss you Panda Bear,” and my heart broke.
We had to carry him into the clinic, and had just a few moments left with him before he was put to sleep. I prayed it would be quick and that he wouldn’t be in pain, and that’s exactly how it happened. My brother couldn’t stand to watch, and went out into the parking lot. My mom and I were with him when he took his last breath, and it was like he just fell asleep. My panda bear was gone.
He was such a good dog and he loved us all so much. I’m glad that we were able to give him a little more time with us, but I’m even more glad that we weren’t selfish in letting him suffer. Knowing that we were able to help him when he needed us most puts me at ease, but I miss him terribly. He’s buried in my back yard; after all, this was home to him for 8 of his 9 years, he doesn’t belong anywhere else.
Mr. Cooper reminded me in one of my crying fits that we have his paw print in our dining room. He left us a little piece of him to remember him. The next day, I got busy transferring the paw print to paper to be framed. After trial-and-error with several different methods, I painstakingly painted ink onto the hardwood and pressed paper over the print several times. I expected to just get the general shape of his paw, but what I got was so much better. The print is so detailed that you can see every detail of his pads. It’s not just some generic print that could have easily been done with a Wal Mart stamp, it was 100% Sprocket print. The finished product made me smile.
Growing older is so much more difficult than I had ever anticipated, especially when you have to say goodbye to people and animals who have been a major part of your life. Sprocket was more than a pet and we were blessed to be his family.

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