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Mason, a Dog Life Well-Lived

27 Dec

Mason, a Dog Life Well-Lived

From my sister-in-law and brother yesterday:
I just came inside from watching my husband Tom bury our 13 1/2–year-old dog Mason. He told me not to go outside. It was too cold and he didn’t want me to watch, but as I stood at the window and saw him lean over the hole – not moving – I couldn’t let him do this alone. So, I dressed warm and stood vigil as Tom placed Mason’s favorite bone and one of Tom’s gloves in the grave and then very carefully and slowly broke up the frozen clumps of clay and gently placed a shovelful at a time over the sheet that surrounded our sweet, lovable, loyal and compliant dog. Our friend. Tom’s constant companion.
It started on Sunday afternoon when Tom took Mason to the groomers. The lady had the store open on Sunday because of Christmas and gave us an appointment. Mason was like a puppy dancing around when Tom got down the leash. She knew it meant a walk or a ride in the car.
Mason was so old that she had difficulty getting into the car. He had to help her in. Mason was just fine when he left her at the groomers. Two hours later, he went to walk her across the street to the car and she wouldn’t move. He tried to take her to some grass, but she wouldn’t urinate. He had to carry her across the street. Immediately, she vomited in the car when he started to drive home.
Tom tried at home to get her to urinate, but she couldn’t/wouldn’t. He brought her inside and told me to look at Mason. We both knew something was terribly wrong. The store was closed, but I left a message for them to call me. All I could think of was that Mason got into chocolate or drank the shampoo water.
By nighttime, Mason had refused any food and whenever we could coax her outside, she would lie on her stomach in the snow and not urinate. Tom had to carry her inside each time. Mason wouldn’t lie on her side. She could only lay on her stomach with her back legs bent. Every time she tried to let her head drop, she’d pick it back up again. Tom slept on the couch and Mason never slept. He took her outside every few hours with no luck.
By 6:30 AM, Tom and I had to make a decision. After all, it was Christmas Eve and we weren’t even sure the vet would be open. He woke her up with a phone call and was told to bring Mason in when the office opened at 9:00. We tried to give her peanut butter on a bone and I squirted 2 teaspoons of water at a time down her throat every 10 minutes or so. She vomited it all up.
The vet found a mass in Mason’s stomach. She told us that if Mason couldn’t urinate, that her bladder would just burst and she would die. The mass must have stretched or torn when she went to the groomers or got in the car, because that is the only explanation for the sudden change.
We had to make the decision to put her down and I sat at her head talking to her while the vet did the job. Tom is not good with needles. (Anyone who remembers the story of my getting stitches and Tom fainting in the hospital will know that.) I told him not to watch, but he peeked. He then had to carry our dead friend to the car where I spread a tarp and covered her with a blanket. I went inside to pay. I was bawling and the people at the clinic were so wonderful about offering comfort through this whole process. I got back to the car to find Tom slumped over the whole front seat. He hadn’t passed out, but was close. I made him move over and drove home.
The groomer called me on Christmas Eve and I asked her if Mason acted any differently while there. She has been grooming our dog for 12 years in the winter and knows her well. She said the only difference was that she refused to walk up the steps to the wash basin. The steps, just like the car, were too much for her. Two people had to lift Mason in and out of the tub. The woman sobbed on the phone with me over the loss of Mason. She couldn’t believe what had happened. (We still can’t.) My friend Kathy Prokopy and my sister Joan also wept with me over the phone.
It is amazing how close people can get to their pets. Tom didn’t eat much of anything on Christmas Eve and he couldn’t eat Christmas dinner with our family. I think he ate 6 hours later. We had our friend and photographer Bob Prokopy coming over to take a family photograph. Luckily, Bob is a professional about getting people to smile or the picture would have been a very sad reminder of what we were going through.
At least I am able to grieve. Tom is struggling with that and I think that is why he insisted on digging the hole and burying her by himself. He doesn’t know what he is going to do when I go back to work after Christmas break and he spends his mornings alone before going to work at 2:00 PM. I know it may seem like a lot of fuss over a dog, but Mason was a much loved member of our family.

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One Response to “Mason, a Dog Life Well-Lived”

  1. Cindy December 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM #

    I lost my beautiful Lizzie, a black lab mix rescued from the Norfolk city pound at 3 years old, this October. I understand what Tom is going through, and my heart breaks for him. I know the ache of having to make that decision. You lose a friend when you lose a beloved pet. My prayers are with your family because this is truly a hard thing to go through.

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