Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Memoriam – “The Best Dog in the World”

Today I lost one of my best friends. Simon was put to rest this evening, peacefully, here at home. His spirit was willing, but his body could no longer keep up. This is the most painful decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. It was the right decision, just a cruelly hard one.

April 6, 2003
April 6, 2003

Simon was purchased from the Orange County Humane Society here in the city of Orange. This was back in 1992 when I was still married and living in Chino Hills, CA. We went to buy a dog because my wife really wanted one. I was ambivalent.

When you enter the dog shelter, there are rows of kennels, each housing a single dog. Most of the dogs there were fully grown. Some were very ill behaved and would be troublesome to adopt. While walking down the rows, viewing dog after dog, I saw Simon.

Phone cam pic from 2004.
Phone cam pic from 2004.

He was young, estimated to be about a year old. He was sitting against the front gate of his kennel, looking up with his ears tucked back. He had a green collar on. None of the other dogs had collars. Ever since then, Simon has always owned a green collar.

His given name was “Yeller,” which I didn’t’ know until later. But he would always be Simon to me.

I had one of the attendants place Simon into the open dog run area so I could learn more about him. In what I would later learn was typical fashion, Simon ran about and sniffed everything. But he was also interactive with me. He was happy to see me, and glad I was there. I was sold. He was on death row. This was his last day to live.

May 12, 2006
May 12, 2006

On the way home, Simon sat in the passenger seat. He laid down and put his head on my lap and fell asleep. When we got home, I laid a towel out on the floor for him. He immediately knew it was for him, and he spread out on the towel. He was house broken already too.

He wasn’t broken of all his bad habits. I can’t count how many sprinkler heads he chewed up in the back yard. He also scratched and chewed through the side garage door. He had a hard time adjusting to being free outside and alone during the day.

He saved my life when I was going through my divorce. His happiness and excitement to see me each time I returned home made me feel loved still. He slept on the bed at night with me so I wouldn’t feel alone. He was a comfort to me. I made it clear that Simon was coming with me after the divorce. He gave me the strength to say “You will NOT get Simon in this divorce. I will fight you on every step if you try it.”

April 6, 2003
April 6, 2003

After leaving Chino Hills and moving to Orange, he adapted very well to his new surroundings. He had to live with a nightmare of a back yard (I was a terrible gardener). I called him “Simon of the Jungle.” He hated to feel the tall grass touching his belly when he tried to pee. It was quite funny to watch.

When I started to date again, one of the main criteria was that he needed to like Simon, and Simon needed to like him. I was thrilled when the feelings were mutual between Simon and James. They loved playing tug-of-war with Simon’s toys.

Phone cam pic from 2004.
Phone cam pic from 2004.

In 1997, I needed to attend a work training class in Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle. It was a three week class so I had friends and family “Simon-sit.” Some people would go over in the morning and let him outside and play with him. Then, someone else would go over in the evenings for the same. James would come over on Wednesday and the weekends and take care of him while I was away.

Simon handled the situation beautifully … until the last day of the trip that is. My friend Judy was there that morning checking up on Simon. Apparently that morning he got fed up with my absence and started scratching the front door and carpeting at the door. He basically stripped all the threads from the carpeting in a long narrow strip. I didn’t blame him. I was surprised he didn’t cause more damage. I just thought it was telling that he did that on the day I was returning. He knew I was coming.

September 2, 2001
September 2, 2001

We purchased our house in Orange in 2001. The day we got the keys, we grabbed two sleeping bags, a lamp, a clock and camped out on the living room floor. Simon was right next to us. He loved the new house, but especially loved his new back yard.

Around that time, Simon started having issues with his joints and hips. The vet took x-rays and we were surprised to hear that Simon had broken a leg sometime before I adopted him (the vet surmised that Simon had been hit by a car as a puppy). The fracture healed incorrectly, with some overlap, instead of end-to-end like they should. This caused one of his legs to be shorter than the other. That led to Simon blowing out the ligament in his knee, which had to replaced surgically.

Later, his hearing started to fade. We started to have to use hand gestures or loud claps to get his attention. In fact, for the past two or three years, he’s had virtually 90% hearing loss.

April 3, 2006
April 3, 2006

Over time, his whole hind quarters got weak and he started to rely on his front legs. When he would lay down on his bed, he would sit his butt down first, then use his front legs to climb down into a laying position.

When he would get back up, he would sit up, then use his front legs to lift up his hind quarters. Basically the two front legs were doing all the work. I knew this wasn’t good, since his front legs can’t take all the weight.

These last few months were the hardest on him. He became more and more unstable on his legs. Yesterday morning he fell several times and couldn’t get up. He even fell into the pool, which sent me running to get him out.

Phone cam pic from 2004.
Phone cam pic from 2004.

In the past couple of months, his appetite diminished. The vet said he had lost 11 pounds – one fifth of his body weight – since a year earlier. He became lethargic. His breathing became labored and he panted all the time. His back and hips became arthritic. We got him steroids to help with his weakness, and pain pills to relieve his pain. They extended his stay with us and we’re glad we did it. But they are no longer helping him, and we could no longer avoid the inevitable.

We couldn’t bear the idea of taking Simon to be put to sleep at the vet’s office. Simon hated it there, and we didn’t want his last minutes of life to be spent there. Nor could we imagine driving Simon there and driving home without him. We did some research and found a mobile veterinary service that offers home euthanasia. They put pets to sleep at home and then take them to be cremated. It costs more to do it that way, but to us it was well worth it for Simon to be at home.

May 12, 2006
May 12, 2006

So today was the day I put one of my best friends to sleep. It was graceful. It was peaceful. It was humane. And he was at home with us where he belonged.

18 comments:

"Alleged Girlfriend" said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I just put down my dog last month after a battle with cancer. It's never easy, but I am sure you did the right thing. Enjoy the good memories.

Shak said...

I, too, am sorry for your loss. I am glad to have met him. My thoughts are with you during these days. Peace, my friends.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim, I am soooooooooo sorry !!!! You guys did the right thing, and I am so sure that Simon appriciated it !! he is now in a happy happy place !!! HUGS ! Sabrina

Mario & Athena said...

Tim & James,

It was a great gift that you gave Simon being at home and together today.

May the love of friends give you comfort and may the love of Simon remain in your hearts.

With deepest sympathy,

Mario and Athena

Jeff said...

My heart go's out to you both. I am glad i got to meet him to. I always loved playing with him. Simon was awsome, always love to cuddle on him. even if you did tell me he was stinky.
Jeff

Shelley said...

Its amazing how those 4 legged creatures steal our hearts. He was so lucky to have you and James. He will always be a part of you.
*hugs and kisses*

Tom & Christine said...

That was a truly beautiful send off, Tim. Christine and I had to stop reading a couple times to dry our eyes. So sorry for your loss...our thoughts were with you and James all day today. Simon was a rocking doggy with the biggest heart and a really sweet nature. He will be sorely missed.

All our love- T & C

Ruben Gomez said...

Tim and James, I will always have good memories of Simon the times that we had him at our home and when we visited you...
I will break the news to Anna tomorrow I know she will cry because she says at school that she has a dog named Simon...
Ruben and Family

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry guys. I know how hard it is, because I had to put m own beloved Gretchen down a few years ago. It's the best thing to do, but oh so hard.

Simon was loved and he will be missed. What better things can be said?

Laura

Anonymous said...

Hey Guy,
I guess Pudgie lost a buddy for good. You are fortunate to have had him with you for such a long time, the hurt will diminish, but never go away. Cherish the pleasant memories!

Grumpy

Anonymous said...

Tim & James,
I read your email with your blog and instantly tears started streaming down my face. I remember Tim telling me you were now a dog owner. Simon was such a great dog, I loved him also. I remember I thought the name Simon was so cute and original. We exchanged so many dog stories between us. My heart aches for the both of you. You know I had to put one of dogs to sleep recently also. May Simon memories live forever and every time you think of Simon it brings a smile to your face. My deepest sympathy to the both of you.
Nancy Guerrero

Doris said...

Tim & James,

We had the privilege of knowing Simon and he was always a gracious host when we would visit. I guess he could tell we were "animal people" and he always hung out with us.
You'll expect to see him walk around the corner at any time and when he doesn't "show" just know he is really still there ...

Love, Doris and Jen

Carolina & Todd said...

Tim and James,
We are so sorry about Simon's passing!... I will always remember Simon as the dog that wears booties to walk inside the house (I've been trying to convince Todd that we should do the same with our dogs and told him that they didn't bother Simon at all!). I thought he was so "proper" -because I didn't know about him chewing through the garage door!. He was definitely a loving dog that made an impression on everyone (even to Todd who only saw him once remembers him as a friendly loving dog). We will always remember him. Love, Carolina and Todd.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim and James,

When sad things of this sort are happening, there is very little to say that would make much sense or alleviate the sorrow. We are sad just reading about it, so we can only imagine how the two of you feel at this moment. However, you should be also proud of yourselves for giving Simon such a wonderful, loving, attentive treatment throughout his life, and of course, for saving his life in the first place (I have always admired people who adopt dogs from shelters) and then many times after (I remembered you told us about the leg surgery when we visited you in California). We both remember Simon very well, even though our time with him was very brief (we have pictures with him as well). He had those good eyes and great graceful disposition, which one could notice immediately, so it was easy to connect with him and effortlessly return the affection he projected. You have given him a wonderful life; even its termination was well thought about and cared for appropriately.

Big hug to you and James


Miche and Yaakov

Anonymous said...

Tim,

That was love. Its not often that one get to see the real deal but there it was. That was beautiful. What a lucky guy you are, and what a great life that little angel got to have with you. Thank you for sharing.

With love and tears,

Aric

Anonymous said...

Sorry my best gay. I really am sorry. I wish I were there to wipe your tears…. Hang in there. Maybe you should plant a nice flower in his memory…

Jen

Anonymous said...

Jimmy and Tim,
We are so sad to hear that Simon is gone. We will really miss him. He was a great friend. So mellow and yet so fun. I am so glad that we had some fun a memorable times with him and you guys too. It's hard losing a pet, companion and friend. He is now in doggy heaven with Tonka. You both are in our thoughts and prayers. He is in our hearts for always.
Love,
Shel, Lisa & Liele

Anonymous said...

Dear Tim, I know you loved Simon and how hard it must have been to say goodbye to him. I'm sure he felt he was a lucky dog to have been saved by you and lucy to be your friend. Love you. Steve