The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough. As someone who runs a non-profit animal rescue, I am all too familiar with the process of having to see an animal pass away. It is always hardest when those animals are my own personal pets who I've shared such a strong bond with. This past week I had to say goodbye to me 12yr old Glen of Imaal Terrier, Brody. Two weeks ago after an emergency vet visit we discovered that he had cancer which had spread through his liver, spleen, and pancreas, and an additional caused internal bleeding within his colon. On Saturday I had to do the kind thing and help my little friend pass peacefully over the rainbow bridge. Dog As he stretches and hobbles out of his bed, the smell of blood and sickness follows him. Gently I clean him up, his fur stained red despite liberal use of peroxide, and the last of yet another paper towel roll used up. I send him outside to do his business. He hesitates before making his way down the two small stairs at the end of the porch. He seems so happy, frolicking in the snow, running around. I watch as he eats some frozen poops that he laid out a few days ago… gross, but I don’t yell at him for it, not today. Let him be a dog. I see his hips shaking as he squats and flinches from the pain, before resuming his leisurely antics sniffing at this and that, rolling in something - I’m not sure what - but it will just add to his glorious odor later on. He comes back to the steps of the porch to be let in, barking to signal me to grant him entrance… but the two steps leading up to the door are steeper these days, harder to jump up. He requires assistance. He whimpers yet again as I walk over to him and follow him up the stairs. I guess having company gives him the encouragement to bear through it in order to return to the warmth and comfort of indoors. Breakfast is ready; he’s been getting more soft food lately, a special treat and a bit more palatable than the dry kibble. Today he isn’t all that interested in it. The last few days he hasn’t been very hungry though he didn’t hesitate to eat the steak and potatoes offered to him last night since he doesn’t generally get “people food”, but last night was an exception. I try to encourage him to play a little bit… his favorite squeaky duck only brings a little bit of enthusiasm as he chases it about four feet across the living room, before returning to my feet to lay down. Belly rubs are much more appreciated by the little guy. He stretches his legs out and soaks up the attention. A silly idea comes to my mind, and digging out some art supplies, ink, and paper I pick up one of his paws. He’s a bit confused, but he tolerates it as I smear his paw and press it on paper a few times… his feet are a bit too fuzzy to get a clear print, but that’s OK, at least I know what the smudges are. I clean up his foot and he wags his tail as I finish drying him off. My fiancé finishes up around the house, getting ready before we head out. I sit on the floor with my friend nestled in my lap. A few smears of blood on the floor, he shakes slightly as I hold him. I don’t think he’s cold. The cancer that has been eating at him undetected until this past week is showing obvious signs now. He’s so much thinner than he used to be. As I pet him I notice each rib, each vertebrae sticking up, his shoulders are no longer strong and muscular, his collar hangs loosely from his neck, and his head hangs a bit lower. Such an oddly proportioned dog with his big head and his stubby legs, I always found him adorable. His breed is revered for their skill in hunting badgers: stubborn and loyal, as such they rarely show when they’re in pain. I’ve seen him whack his head against the side of a table without so much as a flinch, and in the few times he’s made contact with another dog it’s taken all my strength to pull him off whilst avoiding a fury of teeth. As I look at him now, it’s hard to imagine there is a single mean bone in his body even as his cat-friend sniffs him curiously before patting at his tail. He hates car rides… at least while the vehicle is in motion. He crouches low and shakes with each bump, each turn in the road. We stop for lunch, and he is at ease again. Waiting patiently with perky ears looking out the windows at people outside. I give him a pat on the head, he pants softly as his bright eyes look back at me. It’s almost time. My fiancé starts the car and we make our way to the clinic. My mother is there with her boyfriend, and slightly awkward exchanges pass as I bring my little buddy out for a quick walk across the parking lot. His head is higher, tail is wagging, and he’s happy to greet his friends. It’s cold outside and he’s starting to shake, time to go inside. We all surround him in the small room, offer him treats that he gladly accepts. The hardest part is that he’s so blissfully unaware. He wags his tail despite my soft cries, my tears, my shaking. He relaxes in my arms, breathing softly. I tell him I love him, tell him he’s a good dog. He’s being such a good dog, sitting so still, so calm, so relaxed. He doesn’t seem nervous at all. He’s just warm, and letting me hold him tight as I kiss his head. He doesn’t even mind his leg being shaved, or the veterinarian poking the needle into his vein. He just leans into me, falls asleep, and lets out one last deep breath. Goodbye my old friend. My silly, smelly, big-headed muppet of a dog, loyal to the end and a true friend. You will be missed, but never forgotten.