Our hearts are broken.
Kenzie was quite old, particularly being a large-for-breed Boxer. He was a tall, slim 85 pounds- a gentle, crazy giant. He was 11 1/2 and I hoped he'd be one of those dogs that defied the odds for life expectancy.
Boxers are quite prone to cancer and we'd had two scares in the last year. He had two tumors removed from his mouth last year and had a large growth on his paw for the last several months. All were benign.
I really thought that's what would get him in the end; the time would come and we would make the decision to ease his suffering. I honestly don't know what happened, which is the hardest part. I didn't get to say goodbye.
He ate well yesterday. His food bowl was empty when I filled it around midnight.
This morning I was rushing around trying to run an errand for Robbie before work and didn't pay much attention to him. He was really a great dog and had let himself out into the sunroom preparing for me to leave for work. He was a housedog, but during the day, he had the run of the sunroom, garage and a doggy door to the fenced backyard. I told him "you're a good boy" when I saw he hadn't made me call him. Then I left. They would be my last words to him.
When I got home, he didn't meet me at the door. In fact, no one did. I wondered aloud where everyone was. Robbie was napping, David was in his office. I went to look for my dog, thinking he hadn't heard my car come in.
I opened the backdoor and saw him laying by the fence. I thought he'd jump up like he normally did when I surprised him. "Oh mom! You're home!" but he didn't move. My heart sunk. "Kenz? Kenz?"
Before I got to him, I knew. "Oh buddy. Please don't be.. Oh God."
I came running back inside and told David. That's when I started crying. I really haven't stopped since.
I called the vet to have him cremated. Fortunately my favorite vet employee answered the phone. She has a boxer, too and we always talked about getting the dogs together for a play date. She met me in the parking lot and cried with me for a while.
Everyone speculates that he went quickly. He wasn't curled up as though he knew something was wrong. He honestly looked liked he'd gone to lay in the shade of the fence and just enjoy the day. His eyes were still open. I pray it was a stroke and it took him quickly and painlessly. Most of all I hope he knew how much he was loved.
Even David, admittedly not a dog person, shed some tears and proclaimed "He was a good dog."
There is already an emptiness in the house. Tonight when Robbie threw all of his Puffs in the floor, I had to sweep them up. When Robbie splashed water from the tub into the floor, no slobby dog bound in to lap it up, or to lick the water from our arms or to give Robbie kisses so gentle you couldn't believe a dog as sloppy as Kenz was could give them.
I often wondered if Robbie's first real word would be "dog." Now, he won't remember Kenz when he gets older. But we'll tell him about his first dog. I'm thankful we have pictures of some of their interactions. Kenzie taught Robbie that just because things are bigger than you doesn't mean they are scary. And Robbie taught Kenzie that patience is always rewarded- whether it be with an animated pat on the head or scraps under a high chair.
But he's gone. Thus is the bittersweet symphony of pet ownership. So much joy they bring, that when they're gone, the sorrow is even more profound.
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. -Will Rogers