The 2nd of September dawned as any other day in our household. I awoke to the sound of the birds twittering in the garden outside our bedroom window. I got out of bed to let the dogs out for their morning constitutional and put the kettle on for tea and coffee. The bloody water had frozen in the pipes again but the kettle was full, so that was okay. After his coffee, Peter went down to the pump to sort out the water and then we showered and got dressed. But this was no ordinary day. September 2 was the day that had been chosen by us as the day that Milo would die.
In the three weeks since I wrote the By Your Side post Milo had rapidly become more confused, withdrawn and unhappy. When he wasn’t sleeping he wandered around aimlessly and seemed to constantly forget what he was doing. He was always looking for us and when he found us he would go looking for us again. He stopped interacting with us, showed no interest in being petted and even shied away when I tried to brush him. It became impossible to take him on walks as he couldn’t remember whether he was coming or going and would head off in the wrong direction desperately looking for us. I finally realised that his quality of life had diminished so much that I had to let him go.
I could not have done this without Peter. Although he has felt for quite a while that Milo should be euthanized, he let me come to the decision in my own time. He contacted the vet in Nottingham Road and arranged for her to come to the farm to carry out the procedure here so that Milo would experience minimal stress. And when it was over, he sent me off with a cold beer to sit on top of the koppie behind our house while he buried Milo in my Buddha garden.
When the vet arrived she squirted a liquid tranquiliser into Milo’s mouth. He followed me into the bedroom and lay down on his bed. I sat on the floor and stroked him and after a few minutes he started to drift off. Peter and the vet then came into the room and, while Peter held Milo’s head, the vet shaved a patch on his foreleg and inserted a needle. He didn’t even flinch – a trooper to the end. The vet then suggested we say our goodbyes, which we did while Peter held him and I stroked his head. He closed his eyes, gave a gentle little snore, the vet injected him and then, within seconds he stopped breathing. It was an incredibly peaceful death. I can understand why people use the euphemism “put to sleep” as he really did die in his sleep. Bravo Milo!
I am bereft, of course, but also relieved that his suffering is over. He gave me 16 years of loyal friendship and I owed him a good end to his life.
On the eve of his death, we helped him to take a final walk by keeping pace with him and nudging him along in the right direction.
Rest in peace my little Milo Dog.