I took Eli to the vet today for the last time. It was harder than I thought it would be. Yet, I think somehow I had an idea it would be hard because every morning I would hope a little bit that he had died in his sleep. Yesterday I believed he had because I didn't see him all day. I asked Chuck in the evening, but Chuck had seen him.
Eli would be 15 on May 14, according to vet records. In his prime he was probably about 85 lb. We got him about 10 or more years ago, when Chuck's brother's family had to move to town. Eli just wasn't a town dog.
When we got him his hip already was dislocated and he limped. I worried about him being out in the cold in the winter so I tried to move him inside. Eli hated it. He picked up a nervous habit and nothing I did could make him stop. He lost that habit immediately when we let him live outdoors again.
He was big and dumb and friendly. I never did have any success in teaching him obedience commands. He wasn't obstinate. He just didn't get it. He would wag his tail and act willing, but never quite understand what I wanted from him.
He was a 'leaner'. He liked to be around people. He would stand next to me and then rest his bulk against me. If I wasn't expecting it I could lose my balance for an instant.
He enjoyed roaming, even with his painful hip. Even this morning he was out roaming in the field down the road. Last fall, when I would walk the other dogs, he would want to come along. He was too weak to go as far as we went. He would get about to the half mile mark and then he would lie down in the ditch and wait for us to come back. Then, when we reached him, he would take his time, limping along behind us.
The last two winters were tough on him. We've always built him a warm house of straw bales that was sheltered from the winds. Several of the cats would rest with him. But even with that, some mornings it seemed that he could hardly get himself up and walking.
This winter it was worse. Eli quit using the house. He got some kind of skin problem that created open sores and made his fur fall out. We fed him larger and larger portions of dog food, but the shape of his bones was clearly visible. His eyes were oozing.
I don't quite know why we waited so long to put him down. Yes I do.
I'm the hard hearted one in the family. Everyone is more tender than I am. But as soon as Eli was lying down on the towels in the back of the van, I was in tears. I cried on the way there. I cried when I talked to the vet's assistant. I cried on the way home.
I'm OK now, pretty much.