Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Hollywood Minute...

Most of us had a pet, or pets when we grew up. Cats. Dogs. Birds. Gerbils. Fish. We had a parakeet; a (grouchy) cocker spaniel mutt; a german shepherd; and a good little dachsund dog (The Beloved Doggy).

I barely remember the bird -- he was around when I was really young - Chris Jingles was his name. Yes, birds get quirky names that any proud dog would hang their head on, if they were so-named. Anyway, I really don't remember much about the bird, except that every time I let it sit on my finger, I was half thinking (and expecting) that it would either bite my finger... or worse (if you get my drift).

About the only specific memory I have of our pet bird, was when we buried it. If I remember correctly, we buried him in an empty, semi-clear, yellow-orange colored, plastic .22 bullet container, which was put inside a cardboard box, or something. I don't know why it worked out this way... but now that I think of it, I was there for all of the burials (or putting to sleep) of all of the pets we had as a family --the bird & the 3 dogs (including The Beloved Doggy, last year).

The first dog we had, I remember as always being slightly afraid of. He reminded me of a really cranky Richard Nixon... yes, I read way too much history & current events as a kid. I think he died on halloween night, and was discovered the next morning, in the backyard, laying on the frost covered grass where he finally fell asleep. Stiff as a board, he was. I remember that me and Dad took him someplace - but I don't have a specific memory if we buried him, or took him to the Vet for burial, or what we did. I was probably a little sad that he was gone, but not sad enough to shed any tears. Come to think of it, I never cried when Richard Nixon passed on, either.

The 2nd dog we had was a big, friendly german shephard. A pretty dog, as far as dogs go. Not at all mean and sour like I remember the first dog as being. This 2nd one was very friendly, always wagging her tail. The poor dog, was going blind, and getting old, and starting to suffer just from moving around. When it was decided that the humane thing to do was to take her to the Vet, and put her to sleep (the dog, not the Vet - hehe), it fell to me and Dad to do the deed. I still remember how she must've sensed that something bad was gonna happen. She dug in her paws like she was putting on her brakes, as me and Dad tried to get her to go into the back of the pickup truck. I rode with her in the open-aired back, all the way to the Vet's. When me and Dad dropped her off there, and it was agreed that her condition was not a good one for her to keep suffering thru, I remember Dad telling the Vet: "We don't have to stay around for it, do we?"

Dad was an old softy... I remember seeing him getting all teared-up, doing his best to blink them back, so I wouldn't see.

It was a quiet ride home.

And about a yr and a half ago, me and Mom had to put to sleep The Beloved Doggy. The poor little doggy was old, losing his motor skills (couldn't walk -- would suddenly lose his back legs, and flop around on his back & sides). He was a sick little dog at the end. I took some video of him during that last week of his life, and on the morning we took him to the Vet to be put to sleep. Poor little dog. He was such a good puppy (he was 14 yrs old, but I still called him 'puppy').

The Vet asked if either of us wanted to be present when The Beloved Doggy was put to sleep. I asked him how it would happen. Basically, he would be given a lethal injection, and everything would shut down. It would be painless, and not a suffering kind of death -- and it'd be less than a minute. Stupid me, I had this Hollywood image in my head of those movie inmates on Death Row. I figured it'd be like it was in those prison movies: he'd get the injection, and linger around for about a minute, and slowly close his eyes and go to 'sleep'. I knew that if I stayed during it all, it was a two edged sword: On one hand, I could be there to comfort and hold The Beloved Doggy in that last Hollywood minute, after he had the injection. But also, I would always have that memory of watching The Beloved Doggy die.

I chose to stay for it. I knew The Beloved Doggy would be afraid (he always shaked like a little leaf at the Vet's, anyway). And, I figured I could at least hold him and pet him while the injection slowly took him away, during that final, Hollywood minute of his life.

As it turned out, it happened so very fast -- less than 5 seconds -- that I didn't get to comfort or hold The Beloved Doggy at all. I was standing in front of him, so he could see me. I still remember him looking up at me with those brown eyes. The Vet was on one side of him, about to give the injection. The assistant was holding The Beloved Doggy in her arms, craddling him to keep him still. I figured I'd get to hold The Beloved Doggy once the injection was given. You know, for that final, dramatic Hollywood minute type of ending.

Previous to my re-entering the room, the Vet had stuck a tube into one of The Beloved Doggy's front paws, where the injection would be given. I remember standing in front of The Beloved Doggy, seeing him trying to wiggle out of the Assistant's arms, and looking directly at me, like: 'Help me'. I was telling him to hold still, in my most comforting voice. I took my eyes off of him while I watched the Vet insert the syringe into the tube on the front paw. I remember noticing just a little bit of blood from where the tube was stuck into the paw, and I remember thinking: "Awww, poor little doggie. I bet that hurt him & scared him". I watched the Vet do the injection. And suddenly, no more than 5 seconds after the injection (probably only about 3 seconds), I remember taking my eyes off of the paw and the syringe, and watching the Assistant lay The Beloved Doggy down.

He was already gone.

I felt awful that I hadn't had a chance to hold him. I figured I'd hold him after the injection, for that last Hollywood minute, which never came. I was glad that it was quick, and he didn't suffer. But I wasn't any help or comfort at all to the poor little Beloved Doggy -- not like I had wanted, or planned to be.

I still feel bad about that.

The last memory I have of The Beloved Doggy while he was alive was when he looked at me, wiggling in the Assistant's arms, expecting me to help him get outta there. He was afraid, and even tho I was in front of him (which, I guess, was some form of comfort to him), I wasn't even petting him or touching him when he passed away. Some help I was...

When the Assistant layed him down onto the table, at the time, I figured that he was just becoming knocked out -- this was going to be the Hollywood minute that I had planned on. I started petting The Beloved Doggy, and saying: "Gooood puppy... Goooood puppy...", thinking he was still alive. The vet put a stethoscope on him, & checked several places for signs of life. "He's already gone", he said. It was that quick. He was gone when the Assistant layed him down.

I wasn't any help to The Beloved Doggy at all, except for standing in front of him, and letting him see me do nothing to help him. But, as terrible as I felt (feel) about that, I am glad that we took him home, and gave him a good burial. We buried him, and layed him down in his little doggy bed, and covered him with his stupid little towel/blanket.

I still talk to The Beloved Doggy, every day. I still say the phrases in the 'dog voice' that I always said to him. At this point in the game, it's a safe bet that that little stinky dog was as close as I'll ever get to having a kid. Stupid dog -- he thought I was his Dad. Whenever he'd do something bad, I'd protect him or hold him, & I'd tell him: "You're lucky I'm your Patron, you stupid dog".

The other day, I was watching the DVD I had made of The Beloved Doggy: It had a few photos of him, at various ages in his life (some of which are shown here in this blog). And, luckily, also some video clippings of him when he was still a frisky little dog, sniffing all over the yard for the elusive Squirrels (which he never could catch). It was good to see him healthy, happy, and spoiled. It was good to see him looking up at me, holding the camcorder, and wagging that stupid tail. It was good to see those puppy dog eyes, expectant of a treat & no care in the world... & not scared to death...

Everytime I see the parts of the DVD that were filmed on the last morning of his life, and I see him losing his little legs, and flopping all over, and those open sores on his sides that he got from uncontrollably scratching himself over and over til he was raw -- I know that it was a good thing to put him to sleep as painlessly and quickly as it was...

... But, even so, I wish I ha
d been given that Hollywood minute...


  1. I used to have a dog like that. His name was Tippy.. He had a tip at the end of his tail.. ::shrugs:: go figure coming from me Its great to remember those times just like they were yesterday.

  2. sorry my friend...went thru the pics, but couldnt read this one....tooo hard.