Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Saying good-bye to my dog

I couldn't have asked for a better friend and companion. He was indeed my best friend. He held my secrets. He forgave me when I would take my frustration out on him. He loved me unconditionally.

Chato Matisse was given to me by my parents after vacationing in Mexico in 1998. The first night I had him, he yelped the whole night until I brought him on my bed to lay next to me. Similarly, he yelped in pain, sixteen years later, and I was there to comfort him.

I wish I could have done more for him. I wish I had more money to spend on medication and treatments to keep him alive longer. Maybe he could have lived up to 20 years old.

The vets kept recommending treatments for Chato, but I didn't want to commit hundreds of dollars. Six years ago, the vet found inflammation on the right side of his heart, but I did nothing for it. It was then found he had spinal arthritis, cataracts, and then kidney failure. This meant a lot of dollars I couldn't spare to invest on a geriatric dog.

God, I feel so bad.

Then there were times I wish I didn't have Chato. I actually called my parents years ago, when I was single, to tell them that I didn't want him. They urged me to keep him, and I'm glad they did.

He kept me company when no one was around. He was there when my heart was broken several times. He was there when I fell in love and saw my wife and I bring life into the world. He took care of us when my young family needed his protection. He did what a good dog was meant to do.

Then there was the night he didn't come home. It was quite normal for him to walk around the block, but he would eventually come home. This one particular time, two years ago, he didn't come home and I was worried. It turned out that my adventurous dog wondered the neighborhood, crossed a major road, and found his way to a daycare school.

As a resolution for 2013, I asked for Chato to be with us one more year. God was gracious and allowed me to keep him a little longer.

Chato had been looking frail, but he still had energy. The week before his death, I decided to let him sleep with me on the couch. Years ago, his sleeping spot was on the bed next to me; however, because of his lack of bladder control, he was moved to his little bed on the floor.

I received a call from my wife as I was driving back from a business trip to inform me that Chato was not doing very well. She informed me he threw up blood. At that point, I knew he was close to death. I told her to keep him comfortable and that I was coming home.

He laid in his bed in a daze. It took him a while to recognize my presence. I squatted next to him and pet his hair. He looked into my eyes and I sensed he was glad to see me.

I could feel his pain as he struggled to stand. He would walk a few steps and then begin to vomit blood again.

Although a part of me accepted his passing, the selfish part of me didn't want him to die. He was the only connection to my past, and letting go meant I had to grow up, forget the past, and be more responsible.

As stubborn as he lived, he again tried to shake his illness, avoided falling asleep, and attempted to stand. After several hours of vomiting blood and gagging, he finally went to sleep and didn't wake up. It was about three o'clock in the morning on his birthday, April 28th, when he passed away.

I wish his death was painless. I really do. Watching him die was the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

He was my companion, my best friend, and I will always miss him.

Chato Matisse, April 28, 1998 to April 28, 2014

Taken November 23, 2003

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