A hard decision that was easy to make

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

Returning from a day trip Sunday we discovered Smokey, our oldest dog, unable to stand and lying in his own urine.

As regular readers of this column know, we have been watching over this beloved dog for several months now after the veterinarian said earlier this year he only had three months to live.

We realized, seeing him in his condition Sunday, that the wait was over, and it was time to do the right thing by him.

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I took him to the vet Monday morning, and with my wife by my side, we held him as the doctor administered a lethal injection to end his life.

When I arrived at work later that day, I was ready to dedicate this entire column to him, until I discovered Martha had already written something.

Smokey was her dog, and nobody could memorialize him better.

Goodbye Boo Boo

“It was the summer of 1992, and I had just broken off an engagement. I decided that there needed to be some changes in my life, so I bought a dog and a washer and dryer — both much more reliable and loyal than my ex-fiance.

I was living in central Florida at the time, and I went to the nearest animal shelter.

I wanted a female, but couldn’t find one I liked on the first trip, so I went back the next week. Still, no females, but I did see a grey Lhasa Poodle mix I was interested in; so, I asked to see him.

We took him outside and sat him down. It was a typical Florida day, very hot and humid. Timmy, his shelter name, looked at me, then at the shelter worker. He stood up and walked over to a small shaded spot and sat down. I figured any dog smart enough to get out of the sun was the dog for me.

I renamed him Smokey, and our adventures began.

Soon after getting Smokey, I got transferred to Ft. Lauderdale. Worried that I would not be allowed to have pets in my new apartment, my dad made me one of his famous ‘Mafia’ deals. You know, the offer you can’t refuse. By now my dad had fallen in love with Smokey and offered up the deal of &uot;keeping&uot; him until I was sure the apartment complex allowed pets. I had fallen for several other deals my dad had offered up, but this one I had to pass on since I knew I would never get Smokey back. I’m surprised I didn’t end up in cement shoes!

Finding a sitter for Smokey was never a problem. Doug and I were going on a weekend trip and left Smokey with Dan and Jean, my in-laws. I spent the whole weekend worrying he was going to destroy something in their house. When we picked him up on Sunday Jean said he was the perfect gentleman. She had given him a piece of cheese, and she said he was smiling at her when he took it. What a charmer he was.

One time we were visiting Doug’s father, Bob, and wife, Barb. They had just lost their dog and were very skeptical about us bringing Smokey to West Virginia to visit them. Once we got there, Bob fell in love with Smokey. I thought we were going to have to sneak out in the middle of the night because Bob had grown so attached to Smokey so quickly.

Later on Smokey tore a rear leg cruciate ligament — much like an athlete blowing out their knee — and required surgery to the tune of $1,000. Dad was on the spot with another &uot;Mafia&uot; deal. This time both Doug and I gave up Christmas and birthday presents for the year. A year later, Smokey tore his other

cruciate ligament. Same deal offered up, and we accepted. I think we got the better end of both deals.

Smokey celebrated his 15th birthday in September 2005 with a party, cake and presents. Several of his neighborhood friends, four-legged and two-egged attended. I think our neighbors were just as excited as he was to be attending a dog party.

There are so many other great memories about Smokey. Mommy and puppy bonding time, seeing him ride out on the airport luggage carousel with a scared look on is face (company policy was to hand carry them). Needless to say, that baggage handler wouldn’t be sitting down for a while!

Once, my roommate in Ft. Lauderdale let him out in the back yard, forgot about him, and three hours later found him sitting on the front porch, waiting to be let in.

Smokey was a great dog and a loyal companion, and I will miss him greatly. I am glad I had time with him, and he has made my life so much better.

Bye, Boo Boo. Say hello to Grandpa Cliff and Grandpa Bob. I love you.”

I knew when I took Smokey to the doctor Monday that he would not be coming home. Having gone through this several times before, and for some reason, always during October, I knew the drill.

The decision was ours to make. Yes, it was a hard one to come to grips with, but when we realized it was the best for Smokey, it was also an easy one to make.

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