I’ve been surprised by how sad I feel. You see, I never thought I really liked the dog. I could only describe it as a love-hate relationship.
We got Griffin when he was about a year old, seven years ago. He didn’t settle in well. He was a constant source of frustration. He was a runner and for many years, constantly sought to escape from us, his captors. A week after we got him, we had to pick him up from the pound after he had escaped and ended up in the local high school cafeteria. After that, we were terrified to leave the door open, even a crack.
I often described Griffin as a cat in a dog’s body. He was strong-willed. Often he would scratch to be let in at the back door, but when you opened the door, he would walk away.
Griffin was also terrified of stairs. He would never go up or down stairs, no matter how much we pushed, dragged, coaxed, tempted or scolded him. Only friends with a ground floor space that he could stay on could look after him when we travelled. That proved to be more limiting than we expected and another source of frustration.
But he was always so good. He loved people and was extremely gentle and patient with children. As we used to say to visitors, the most aggressive thing he would do was sniff your crotch. He was obedient—when he felt like it. The rest of the time he would give us a “Ya, right!” look when we issued a command. He rarely barked.
Griffin was beautiful. He was a cross between a Siberian Husky and a Labrador Retriever—with the markings of a Husky and the build of a lab. And nobody could resist the one floppy ear. Even people indifferent to dogs thought he was good-looking. To see him run was breathtakingly graceful.
For five months this year he was my sole companion.
Then this week, after noticing that he was drinking a lot more than usual and having ‘accidents’ in the house, the vet confirmed it was diabetes. Today, a dog can lead a reasonable life with diabetes, if the owners commit to blood-sugar testing and insulin injections twice a day for the rest of the animal’s life, not to mention frequent visits to the vet for monitoring. Cataracts is a frequent side effect, too. So we had to consider quality of life for us and for him. While we loved Griffin, he was a dog. We struggle daily to raise funds to feed and educate children in Kenya. How could we justify the expense and effort. Call us selfish, but we felt that, regrettably, this was beyond our limit.
The decision to have him euthanized was incredibly difficult. Our last dog, Chelsea, at the old age of 13, suddenly became very sick and was visibly suffering. That time the decision, though a sad one one, was also much easier to make. We wanted to end her suffering. But, with Griffin, it’s different. Other than being slightly more lethargic (and the accidents), he seems quite healthy. As a matter of fact, he seems more content than ever before. So hard!
Last night was incredibly difficult, knowing what was in store. I think an on-the-spot decision may have been easier. To have the opportunity for one last walk, a last meal and to know what lay ahead was even more painful. Now I know why God doesn’t let us know when our own time will come, so we can live each moment to the fullest without maudlin thoughts and mourning what is to come.
Good-bye, Griffin. In the love-hate, there was much, much love.