My sister’s dog died this weekend. I watched Foster, who got his name from a beer label, fade away while my sister gave him reassuring pats on the head and whispers of goodbye in his ear. His final moment was spent resting on a cold metal table at an animal hospital in Chicago, but he looked comfortable and was with his most loyal friend. It was 4:45 a.m. He was a few weeks shy of turning 14.
My sister and Foster came for a visit this weekend from their home in Cleveland. His last day included a ride in a Mustang convertible, a walk in the park and a trip to the beach. He went to a dog friendly pub where he played with (and attempted to hump) a Bulldog twice his size and several years younger. He snacked on dog treats, pooped on a sidewalk and saw a big city he had never been to before. He even let out a string of his signature howling barks. A few hours later, he wouldn’t even have the energy to hold his head up, although I could tell he was trying his best. Veterinarians told us there was a large growth on his spleen and he was bleeding internally.
While it was difficult to accept how things could change so quickly for Foster, it was also a lesson in how to live. He enjoyed his time until the very end, then peacefully passed on with calmness and dignity.
The car ride home was quiet. Foster’s footprint in a dry cast mold the hospital gave us was riding in the backseat next to me.
It’s in these times you remind yourself, “he was just a dog”, but that’s only a defense mechanism we humans use to make it easier. Foster was more than just a dog. He was a friend. He was a source of laughter and companionship. He was good.