Saying Goodbye

I spent most of this morning in the veterinarian’s office. Zuri stopped eating yesterday and then threw up in the afternoon. He’ll be twelve years old in 8 days. It doesn’t seem like that many years have gone by since the breeder notified me that the litter had been born and yes, there would be a puppy for me. For a big dog (and Zuri is even larger than the Rhodesian Ridgeback standard), 12 years is a good lifespan. For a friend and house-companion, it’s way too few.

May 13

He was a rough and tumble youngster, and I often had to warn my husband that his game of “growlie” with Zuri wouldn’t be so funny if someone not familiar with our dog made a move that triggered Zuri’s “play.” This became especially evident when Zuri matured out at 31″ at the shoulders and 150 pounds. Having a dog that could jump as high as a man’s shoulders, could hook your legs out from under you with just one paw, or could knock you over with a bump of his shoulders meant we needed to make sure he understood we were in control.

With Zuri that’s been an easy task. He wants to please. By four months of age he was as big as most mature dogs, so he was allowed to attend the regular obedience classes, which he passed with ease. I never had any intentions of showing him, but living with a dog that obeys both voice and hand commands is truly a pleasure, and when he was six, he even spent several months visiting a nursing home, shaking paws with the elderly residents as I tried to explain that the hair grew the opposite direction on his back and that was why it looked like he had a sword there (and no, he wasn’t angry or upset).

Zuri’s antics have helped me with my P.J. Benson mysteries. PJ would be in big trouble if her Baraka hadn’t played growlie or hadn’t run down and knocked the villain over with the bump of his shoulder. And if I’m having a problem with a plot point, Zuri is more than willing to listen to me grumble, rant, and rave.

I left the vet’s office this morning with two bottles of pills, but little hope. An ultra sound showed a large tumor on Zuri’s spleen. The vet said he could operate, but the operation would be extensive and at Zuri’s age, he didn’t recommend it. We’re hoping the pills get Zuri feeling better and eating again, and as long as my dog doesn’t appear to be in pain, we’ll go that route, ’cause saying goodbye isn’t easy.

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24 Responses to Saying Goodbye

  1. Kristen says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Our Kalamazoo Animal Rescue dog, Tye, is a big mixed breed about the same age, and we’re nearing the same point with him. He and my nine year-old are best buddies, and big old 85 lb. Tye has been so good with all of my children that we’re dreading that last goodbye. I’ll be thinking about you during this tough time.

  2. Cheryl Peck says:

    I’m sorry. I lost Babycakes in January after just slightly less than 20 years of companionship. It’s hard to watch them get sick and it’s always hard to know exactly when the make the decision.

  3. Sally van Kuik says:

    So sorry and I understand. We have had to say good-bye to many beloved pets over 45 years.

  4. I can relate, Maris. Our Springer was thirteen and having seizures as well as other complications. Saying goodbye was painful. He was hubby’s hunting dog only a short time every year. The rest of the time he was mine to care for and love.
    Hope the pills work to make Zuri feel better and give you more time together.

  5. Our dog Sasha used to look at me with that same expression. He was part Australian shepherd, part collie, and we too had to say goodbye to him. Still miss him, still hear his nails click on the hardwood floor.

  6. Annette Briggs says:

    So sorry Zuri is sick. Hope he has more good time left. It is so hard to let go of a loving pet. Hugs and prayers, Annette

  7. Melissa Keir says:

    I’m sorry to hear about Zuri. I hope that the pills help. You’re so right…saying goodbye isn’t easy. I think of my pets as my babies and struggle with the choice each time it’s time to say goodbye. It sounds like Zuri is quite the character though. I will keep him in my prayers.

  8. Patti Shenberger says:

    Maris, I’m so sorry about Zuri. I hope the pills can bring him some relief. It’s so difficult saying goodbye and no one wants to, but you’ll know when the time is right. Take care.

  9. Lucy Kubash says:

    I guess no matter how many times we have to say goodbye it never is easy. How can it be when we love our pets so much? They’re members of the family. I hope Zuri will still have some time with you. I’ll be thinking about all of you.

    • Maris Soule says:

      My thanks to all who have taken the time to comment. We’re hoping the medicine the vet gave us will help and we’ll have Zuri with us a little longer, but it’s nice to know others understand our pain.

  10. Julie says:

    So sad to hear that Zuri is sick! Please give him a hug from Steve and me. Sending love and healing energy to all of you!

  11. Ami Weaver says:

    I’m sorry, Maris. He sounds like a wonderful dog. And I can’t imagine his size! I’ve been through this recently with a beloved cat. It was so very hard. I hope the pills work for him.

  12. Diane Burton says:

    My heart goes out to you, Maris. Like many of the commenters, we’ve had to deal with the end of days for our dogs. Never easy. Hugs.

  13. Dville grandma says:

    Crying enough tears for all of us who have loved and lost our pets. I know Zuri has been your muse and thoughtful companion. I cried for my bird, my cats, my dogs but come to think of it, not my white rat. Hmmmm Poor Beethoven, AKA Beet, was cute, but I guess he did not reach the same level of communication as the others. Thinking of you, for real. hugs,

    • Maris Soule says:

      Love your comment. We rescued a woodchuck one year when our son was in his teens. Of course we called him Woody. He used to follow our son around, crying for him when he couldn’t find him. He only lived a few weeks before he got into some rat poison (we never thought he’d get up on top of the freezer we had downstairs), but we all shed a few tears for Woody and still miss that plaintive call.

  14. ELF says:

    I will send you good thoughts and hope that you have some time before having to make that extremely difficult decision but I sense that you will be strong enough to show your love by letting him go peacefully when he isn’t enjoying his life any longer. I still miss my furbaby but am so grateful for the time we had with her and it sounds like your Zuri has enriched your lives just as ours were. I also send you hugs.

  15. Elorise Holstad says:

    Maris … I’m so hoping that the pills are effective. (Until now,) I’ve always enjoyed reading your comments about Zuri … he’s an ideal pet. And you’re doing the best you can for him …
    Cyber Hugs.

  16. Hugs and prayers for Zuri and your family. Most of us have been in your current position. Some more times than we care to think about. It never gets any easier.

  17. Bonnie Alkema says:

    Hi Maris,
    So sorry to hear the vet’s news and hope the pills help. As with everything in life. every minute is precious. Thinking of you.

  18. Jillalison says:

    We’ve been through it a zillion times, but it never gets easier. {{{{{Maris}}}}} He couldn’t have had a better home or a better life.
    We lost our Moose to a tumor on his heart–no way to know this ahead or anticipate it.
    You know the big breeds can’t last as long…
    but it’s still losing a member of the family.
    Hope the pills relieve his discomfort and help…

  19. Patricia Lazarus says:

    Maris, I have always followed your stories of Zuri with interest. I love a big dog, and he is so handsome! I pray that the meds get him eating again, and give you more time. HUGS!

  20. Sue Crouse says:

    Ah, Maris, I hate hearing this about Zuri. Will keep all of you in my thoughts.

  21. Larry Sweazy says:

    Maris, there’s nothing worse than not being able to do something for our RRs when they need us. Brodi and Sunny send Zuri healing thoughts and love.


    • Maris Soule says:

      Thank you, Larry. I know you understand. I hope Brodi and Sunny are doing well. So far Zuri has improved, and I hope he continues to do so for a long, long time.