I still miss D.J. eleven years after saying good-bye

I still miss D.J. eleven years after saying good-bye

It’s another last Wednesday of the month. It’s another Blogapalooz hour. We get a topic and try to write and publish something in an hour. Tonight’s topic is to write about a time you had to say goodbye.

Everyone has those moments. Parents die. Children become adults and get married. Jobs come to an end. I even thought about leaving college and and crying over having to join the real adult world. I still want to go back to those days. But after thinking it over, it really comes back to the little guy in the photo at the top.

The guy with the popcorn bag on his head is our family dog D.J. He died in 2006 at almost sixteen years old. But to get to the end of his life, we need to start at the beginning.

It’s 1991 and I’m living in Southern California. I’m living with my wife of about a year, our new daughter who is about six months old and two tween age step-daughters. Oh yeah…I forgot our parakeet Larry.

One morning, I get ready to head off to work, take the cover off the bird cage and poor Larry is laying at the bottom of the cage. Dead! Sad.

Now a dead bird doesn’t really get you a bereavement day so I go to the office. I’m a little upset over Larry so at lunch time, I’m going to chill and pout by myself. A couple of work friends tell me they’re going to lunch and then to a pet store and I should come along. You’d think a guy who just lost a pet would avoid a pet store but okay…why not. What could go wrong?

We get to the pet store and they have puppies out in a small kennel. In there is this tiny peekapoo who is only four months old and weighs about four pounds. I looked at him, he looked at me…and we were both hooked. It was love at first site for both of us. But I knew I had to “get permission” to become a dog owner.

That night, I brought the family to the pet store to meet this cute little guy. An hour and four hundred dollars later we had a dog. On the way home we were thinking of names. My daughter Andrea said D.J and it fit. We had a family dog.

I can tell so many stories about this little guy. The many times he scarfed pizza from the dinner table. How he freaked out so bad while¬†being in a car that he had to sit on my lap while I drove. The one time he threw up and peed on me while I was driving him to the vet…it was a five minute ride. Oh yeah…the popcorn picture…he got in the garbage one night and this is what we woke up to. His head was stuck in a popcorn bag. Being the great parents we were, we took the photo before taking off the bag,

But this is a goodbye story so I need to get there.

It’s Memorial Day weekend 2006. On Friday night, I’m web surfing and D.J. is coughing and wheezing. It sounds like a hairball is caught in his throat. After a couple of hours, it’s not getting any better and I need to take him to the vet….the damn emergency vet. C’mon dude, you couldn’t do this during regular vet hours?

A few hours and five hundred dollars later (they ran a lot of tests), poor little D.J. had a death sentence. Cancer! Damn. Fuck Cancer! I honestly didn’t even know dogs could get cancer until that night.

When your dog is sixteen years old you aren’t going to do anything drastic to extend his life. He’s had a good long run. So we’re just going to do what is needed to keep him comfortable for his remaining days.

D.J had a pretty good summer but as we neared Labor Day you could see him starting to suffer and you knew his time was getting shorter. I made an appointment to take him to the vet to euthanize him.

It was a good plan. I took a half day off of work to do it. Everyone said their goodbyes and when it was go time, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready to let go. I looked at D.J. and he seemed to perk up so I said it wasn’t his time yet and cancelled the appointment. I’m pretty sure I was just fooling myself.

A few days later was Labor Day weekend. Always a holiday with this guy. I was again web surfing on a Saturday night….hmmm…not much has changed in all these years….and I could see D.J. suffering in the corner of the living room. He was doing little circles trying to get comfortable. Our other dog, Jake was standing beside him watching over him. It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen because the dogs didn’t really get along. But they did that night. I think it was a sign that I need to be the adult and take charge of the situation.

I told the girls that it was time and they agreed. They said their goodbye and I drove D.J. to the emergency vet again…and again sitting on my lap. We entered the hospital, the vet took us into a room and with me holding my puppy, D.J. took his final breaths as he received the shot that ended his life.

It’s eleven years later and I’m telling this story as if it happened yesterday. I’ve also been rubbing my eyes occasionally as I write this because eleven years later I can still feel the hurt. I miss my little guy. I wonder if they have popcorn in that rainbow bridge thing. Hey D.J. be careful with those popcorn bags up there.

 

Related Post: What’s the deal with dogs in stores?

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