It has been a tear-filled day. With unspeakably heavy hearts, it pains me to say that we put Bacchus to sleep today. We have been fearing this day for the last nine months, when he was first diagnosed with lymphoma. The chemotherapy pushed him into remission for several months, which we are very thankful to have. It gave us an opportunity to take him camping and on several hikes again this summer. He was happy and energetic again. Perhaps not quite his old self, but close enough for us all to forget for a while.
His cancer relapsed about three weeks ago. We went through a “rescue protocol” to try to kick it back into remission. It seemed to work for a couple of weeks, but in the end it was too much for him. He completely lost his appetite, and was unable to process any sustenance. The vet did not believe he was in pain, but he was clearly in discomfort. He has been vomiting again for several days now. The oncologist said there wasn’t anything more we could do for him, so we decided to take advantage of a pretty day to take him out for one last walk and a trip to the dog park while the boys were still in school.
It feels as if a light that has brightened our lives and warmed our home for as long as either of us can remember has been extinguished. A lot of people feel that their dog is special. Lara and I are no exception, and feel it as keenly as anyone. He was our family for almost 9 years. He brought more joy to our lives than we ever imagined a pet could do. He brought a smile to everyone’s face. For years, when we walked down the street in our neighborhood, children and adults alike, who did not even know our names, would shout, “Bacchus!”, and come rushing over to pet him.
The boys are taking it pretty well. We let them say goodbye, and dropped them off at a friend’s house so we could both take him to the vet. Clearly, they don’t understand what has happened, but we’ve told them all about “doggy heaven”, and the huge field that Bacchus is now running through and the pond that he can swim in all day. I’m hoping that repeatedly explaining this to the boys will serve as some sort of perverse therapy, and help us to process our grief.
We met Bacchus at a farmhouse in the summer of 2003. He slept under a dog house as we were introduced to his brothers and sisters. We were pretty much settled on adopting his chubbier and more docile sister, but just as we were about to leave, he woke up and grabbed us as if to say, ” What about me?” We played with him for a while, but drove away intending to adopt his sister. Something was eating at both of us though, so when we got home we called the breeder back to say we had changed our minds and wanted to adopt the puppy we knew simply as “Kelly Green” (the color of the collar he was wearing – which by the way remained the color of his collar for the rest of his life).
He was a near perfect dog from the start. The only thing of ours that he ever chewed was a few socks, and he never once even attempted to jump on a piece of furniture. Even house training only involved a few accidents. Before we knew it, he was ensconced in our hearts and we could not imagine our lives without him. He was a constant companion on our numerous backpacking trips. All we had to do was pull out his backpack, and he would launch into a frenzy. He had the energy to hike all day long, and yet was perfectly content to lay by your feet (or on Lara’s lap as she sat on the floor) all day when you were under the weather. He greeted us at the door every day, tail wagging furiously.
He had his quirks, to be sure. We’ll always remember his “puppy crazies”, his love of opening wrapped packages, and the way he would run in endless circles at the feet of any visitor to the house. He would spread his legs out to the side as he slept like some sort of furry amphibian. He would whimper and twitch his legs as he dreampt nearly nightly. He had to be in the middle of any hug. As with many dogs, he loved chasing bunnies and squirrels, and was passionate about swimming. Most of all, he just made you feel good.
Goodbye Bacchus. You will forever be a part of our hearts, and we thank you for being the best friend we could have hoped for.