The family dog, in a lot of ways our first child, passed away this morning. We knew it was coming, he was given 2-4 weeks to live about 16 months ago. Our Vet quit trying to explain his persistence in sticking around a while ago - there was no medical explanation for it. He had Cushing Disease, brought on by a tumor on his Pituitary Gland. The medication we gave him to control the tumor growth caused blood clots, so we gave him baby aspirin to thin his blood. That caused high blood pressure, so we gave him medication for that. All that upset his stomach...it was a viscous cycle. He was only supposed to last two to four weeks, the medication was to allow him to to remain comfortable for as long as possible until I would have to deal with a decision of when to put him down. He went 16 months. Yet he never once showed any sign of pain or suffering, he ate healthy and his temperament was fine right up until he died this morning. I would have put him down at the first sign or suffering.
I put him out in the back yard like normal, a a few minutes later he had his front paws up on the patio like normal, waiting for me to come get him and carry him in the house. He had arthritis in the back two legs and for the last few months we've been carrying up and down anything resembling a step. As I got to him there was no sign that anything was abnormal, and when I picked him up, he just went limp. As I came into the house I laid him down and it was obvious he was slipping away. We called the Vet, and quickly got the kids upstairs to say goodbye. He was dead when I got to the Vet 5 minutes later. Most likely it was a blood clot that did it.
One thing is really bothering me though. Either I picked him up at the exact second a clot hit his heart or brain, or it hit him sometime in the 5 odd minutes he was out, and he somehow hung on until I was there to catch him. Normally, I dismiss superhuman behaviors by pets as the illogical ravings of over emotional cat owners, but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that it was just coincidence that he more or less died in my arms.
He died happy, and loved by all those around him. That is probably all any of us can ask, human or canine.