Way back in August, I wrote a post about having to put my Johnny fiend to sleep. It was tough. I cried for days. 6 months later, I’ve had to say goodbye to another of my furry fiends.
Indiana Cooley, known as the “Indie dog,” was my friend. He was the first dog my wife and I rescued. We adopted Indie from a rescue group and had to drive to hell and gone to pick him up. Because we only had one car at the time, we took my wife’s Jeep Wrangler. Big mistake.
Indie was about 55 lbs and we were told he was 2 years old. He’d been abused. He had scars on his snout from being muzzled as a puppy. He was quiet and very shy. While my wife signed the paperwork, it was my job to coax this dog into the car. That took over 30 minutes to do. He was afraid of us at first. But eventually, we managed to get him home.
This new dog of ours was so confused about his new home, that he barely knew what to do. I lay on the floor, coaxed him to me, and he lay down in front of me. Carrie left to get him food, bowls, and toys. Indie and I napped together, me holding him, and him snoring.
After that, he followed me wherever I went. At the vet’s the next day, we were told Indie wasn’t even a year old. Oh, and we had to put 30 lbs on him. THIRTY FUCKING POUNDS! Should have known. His paws were huge.
Indie, a cross between a golden retriever and a great pyrinees, was damned furry. Through the years, he’s left massive snow-drifts of white/blond/red fur throughout the house. We’ll probably still be finding it twenty years from now. And I have to say, I think I’ll shed a tear every time I find one.
The other dogs I’ve had in my life were hyper. Indie wasn’t like that. He was happy being on the couch snuggling. 105 lbs of snuggles, to be exact. A lap dog that couldn’t fit in my more than ample lap.
He attended every dart night. He interrupted players for butt scratches, lay down on the dart line, and occasionally demanded scritches in-between bully sticks and bones.
The last couple of years, he slowed down a lot as hip dysplasia finally took its toll. For the last 12 months, he’d been taking a cocktail of previcox and tramidol. It kept him from being in too much pain, but I knew it still wasn’t great. He rarely played with our other dog, Luna, and couldn’t walk very far. Basically, he let us know that the end was coming. Neither his mother or I wanted to believe it, but we both understood.
I was on a business trip this week, Monday through Wednesday. The morning before I drove home, Carrie called and said Indie wasn’t eating. When I finally arrived home, I nearly cried. Indie had lost a lot of weight in just a few days. He looked sad. Miserable. And in pain.
Wednesday night, I lay down on the floor with him and snuggled him just like I had when he first entered our home. I knew it would be one of the last times I’d be able to do so. I managed not to cry. That time.
I took him to the vet yesterday morning. Although Indie was walking okay, he appeared to stumble more than once. His fur was coming out in patches and while they took his blood, I knew this was the end.
He was 12 years old. Pretty ancient for a large dog. And it finally happened: kidney failure. We could keep him alive in the hospital, get him stabilized, and maybe eek out a few more months. But he’d be miserable. We’d be miserable. Carrie and I refused to do that to him. It was time.
They brought in a heavy, but soft, blanket. I lay down on the floor. Indie lay down with me. I held him, told him how much I loved him, and shed buckets of tears while they performed the injections. I kissed him when his eyes closed for the last time. I’m not sure how long I stayed there hugging my dead friend. I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped. I’m not sure I’ll ever wash the fleece that smells like him either.
I miss him. Last night, I found myself pulling out two treats. One for him and one for Luna. I gave Luna hers and walked all the way into the living room before I realized he wasn’t there. And wouldn’t be there ever again.
He’s not here to comfort me. He’s not here to give a gentle woof when he wants to go outside. And he’s not here to lay next to me while I write and occasionally nudge my leg for scritches. All of those things are done. And he only lives in these words, some photos, and my memories.
No matter how many pictures I post or words I may write, they will never convey the joy he was to know and how much he enriched my life. I hope he knew how much we loved him and how much we’ll miss him.
The empty space in my heart will fade in time. Just as it did with Johnny. But there will be too many reminders of our loss for me to be okay any time soon. With that, I say farewell to my friend, my boy, my couch mate. I miss you, Indie. And I always will.