This afternoon, my wife and I had to make the tough decision to put to sleep the most totally loyal dog I've ever known. Cowboy came into our hearts 2 years and 4 days ago from the local Humane Shelter. My wife saw him on their Facebook page and I went to check him out. He was 13 years old, and had been picked up as a stray, but the Animal Control Officer knew the dog's history. When the dog's original owner, also elderly, had to go into a nursing home, his dumbazz son just dumped Cowboy on the street, where he somehow survived for a year before being picked up.
When brought in to the shelter, he had a malignant tumor on his right foreleg, ears horribly infected with bacteria and yeast, bad gum disease, and had lost all of his undercoat and a lot of his topcoat due to the worst flea infestation the Shelter had ever seen. He had literally thousands of scabs all over his hide from flea bites.
But the old boy touched my heart. He was so sweet and well mannered that they had him running loose in the lobby of the Shelter, where he was meeting and greeting everybody and every animal that came and went. Wife and I decided that, even if he only had three months left, we'd try to make them three good, comfortable ones. Our vet did a wonderful job excising the tumor, cleaning out his ears, fixing his gums and teeth, and gave us medicated shampoo for his skin and coat. We nursed him and he thrived. He was a handsome, distinguished, charming old gentleman.
Griff and Zera, our other two German Shepherds (also rescues) welcomed him into the family also. There literally was never a cross word, or growl, or raised hackle, between them. He fit right in. He and Griff became close friends and did their daily "rounds" together, and hung out a lot together.
Griff even shared Mama with him.
Within four months, he'd grown an entirely new, shiny, plush coat and looked like a different dog. He totally bonded with me and became my constant shadow, making EVERY step that I made. There was also no doubt that he would have given his last breath to protect my wife and me, if needed.
Griff and Cowboy: A quiet evening in the "Bear Den" while Daddy plays on the computer.
Cowboy's favorite thing: To be out with Daddy and around folks. Down at the pond, our grandson in the background, the next door neighbor's son with the bluegill. Cowboy supervising.
The world class moocher at work on Mama, an easy mark:
We had been noticing him slowing down the past few weeks, and took him in for a checkup. His blood work was perfect and everything seemed okay, so we decided, that at age 15, he was just showing his age and the slowdown was normal. But, the grandkids were here last week and he loved it. He and the other dogs (and kids) played and romped with abandon. They had a ball. He ran and played like a puppy.
But Saturday evening, we noticed he seemed to be having more trouble than usual getting up on his feet. Sunday things went downhill fast and we ended up at the vet's Sunday night and had to leave him there. Today, things continued to deteriorate, and X-rays and more in-depth tests revealed that he was full of gastrointestinal cancer. He was whining in pain and suffering, couldn't get his back legs to work, and losing control of his bowels and bladder. We couldn't let that continue to happen to our friend.
We put him on a stretcher and carried him out to a beautiful shady glade next to a park behind the vet's office. We spent some time loving and petting him and gave him some cheese treats that he loves. Then, he left this world cradled in our arms, his handsome old head nestled in my hands, hearing the voices he loved encouraging him and telling him how good he was and how much he was loved.
Farewell Cowboy... You were a GREAT dog! I love you and I'll miss you. But, I know in my heart that I'll see you again, at the right time.