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After he#8217;s gone, he#8217;ll live forever in our hearts

It’s hard to sit by and watch an old friend die. But that’s what my wife and I are having to do right now.

The old friend is Smokey, my wife’s dog.

He’s a Poodle Lhaso mix, about 16 or 17 years old based on our best guess.

He’s a shelter dog, as are most of our eight animals n the best kind in my opinion.

Smokey has been a major part of our lives ever since my wife adopted him.

He has traveled just about every place the two of us have gone, and there have been times that we had to alter our travel plans simply because he was with us. For example, we wouldn’t even consider stopping along the highway to eat and leave him in the car. During those times it’s always fast food n of which he receives his fair share.

I am not going to be one of those pet owners who goes on-and-on about how smart their dog is and that he’s the best in the world. We know; and that’s enough for us.

Smokey never met a person he didn’t like, including most cats.

For a while in South Florida, my wife was involved in pet therapy at the local nursing home. Smokey attended a class or two with her and became her partner. He even had his own ID badge. My wife describes those visits as “Smokey eating his way through the building.” It seems every resident there would always have a little treat waiting.

He’s a movie star, of sorts. When the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., ASPCA made a video on adoptions, he was in it. I’ve seen it. He did a great job, even though he didn’t have a speaking part.

A number of years ago, he spent some time with my mother and step-father in Culpeper while Martha and I were out of town. When we returned, she almost didn’t give him back. She said he had been the “perfect gentlemen” during his visit. We didn’t expect anything less from him.

During a regular visit to the veterinarian, it was discovered that he had an enlarged heart. He immediately went on medication and has stayed on it to this day. It didn’t really slow him down a bit.

Recently though, things have taken a turn for the worse. Our vet here in Suffolk determined the old guy has some fluid around his heart, and some other problems often associated with old age.

And very recently he has begun to cough a lot n a cardiac cough as the vet puts it. The cough is almost constant. While it must be extremely frustrating for him, it is heartbreaking for us because there is nothing we can do to give him any relief.

And there is a possibility that he has recently suffered a minor heart attack.

All in all, he has a lot of things going on for such an old man.

Our vet has told us that his days may be numbered, perhaps even as short as two to three months.

Martha and I have talked about it, especially how we will handle making that final decision for him should that be necessary.

We’re realistic people. We know the odds are against him and his life expectancy is short right now. We’re preparing ourselves as best we can for that day.

Smokey has pretty much become the center of attention at our house these days. He receives a lot of what my wife calls “puppy bonding,” and we dote over him every waking moment.

It’s just what one does when their good friend is sick.

The funny thing is the way the other animals react. I think they know. There’s no jealousy among them when Smokey receives all the attention. They just seem to take it all in stride.

Our goal these days is to make his last days as comfortable as possible. And whatever it takes, we’ll do it.

It’s just what one does when their good friend is sick.

When that time comes, we can only hope that it will be quick and painless, for his sake and ours.

When it does happen, we will be as prepared as we possibly can be.

After he is gone, the one thing the two of us will always have are the memories. And we will find our strength in those.

To my old friend, may God bless you and keep you. And, as they say, we’ll see you on the other side.

You’re a good boy Boo Boo!

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com