All I ever wanted was a dog. Growing up, my parents tempted me twice with dogs but ours wasn’t a dog family and both times the dogs went back to where they came from after a month or so. Until I was 30 and met Becky.
We got to talking about our future together and I mentioned I wanted a dog, and when I say dog, I meant a real dog. A big dog. A German Shepherd or a Lab. She eventually got on board with the idea of a dog, but not a big dog. To head that off, she went out and got me a little dog. That little dog above. She wasn’t sure about breeds until she went to the mall with her mom and niece Makayla and little Makayla fell in love with a miniature dachshund they had there. Becky didn’t want to pay over $1,000 for a puppymill dog, so she went out and found a breeder and brought home that little bundle of joy for me.
My initial ideas for names were pretty dumb, with Tank and Guinness being the two main contenders. We took our time naming him and wanted to see what his personality was. His personality turned out to be stubborn and very smart, figuring out how to get out of any confinement we put him in. With my name being Bryon, it quickly became obvious that this devious little genius was a Stewie.
He was quiet for several months and cuddly and then one day he barked a loud noise that surprised him as much as it surprised us. From then on out, that was one aspect that caused us the most trouble – and, of course, that’s the thing I miss most now that he’s gone. For almost a year it was just Stewie and Ruby and they bonded like brothers. Then we moved to a new house and Spenser came along and Stewie bonded to Spenser like glue. I loved it and was also wildly jealous since he was *my* dog.
Holly came a year later and it he loved hanging out with his kids, even though Holly vastly preferred Ruby. When we moved into our previous house there was a first floor laundry room that worked perfectly as Stewie’s room where he slept and where his food was and his bathroom pads. When not running around outside or with the kids, he was my best writing buddy dutifully snoring under my desk as I wrote novels and stories and edited books and took on dream jobs and lost dream jobs.
When we moved to our new house, one of the hardest things was that we were all now spread across three floors instead of all on one floor and because of his back, he couldn’t go up and down stairs and we couldn’t pick him up and carry him up and down the stairs either so he mostly hung out on the landing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for us.
As he got older, he started losing control of his bladder more often and we started cleaning pee up from a lot of places, but he remained active and energetic, loving to play fetch and be outside around the neighborhood kids.
There were a couple of times I thought we were going to lose him and prepared myself for it only for him to come back strong, including dealing with being paralyzed for three months before forcing himself back to walking and running. But the last couple of years have been harder. His heart was starting to get weaker and the vet gave him about six months to live a year and a half ago. That’s Stewie for you. A couple of weeks ago, his coughs started getting worse and more consistent. The vet gave him more medicine, but the medicine wasn’t working. Last week during a coughing fit I think he had a seizure and he’d been out of sorts since then.
On Monday when Holly and I came back from her hockey practice we both noticed he looked bad. He’d lost a lot of weight and his breathing was very labored. He wasn’t eating, he didn’t want to play and he just seemed to have all the life drained out of him. I put him in a blanket and took him to the couch and held him, telling the kids to say their final goodbyes and called Becky and asked her to come home.
His breathing slowed and he started to fade, but he hung on. We went outside and sat in the sun on the deck, which was his favorite spot and I told him he was a good boy and I loved him and told him he could go and see Ruby. He hung on and stayed with us through the night, but he never fell asleep and he just seemed zoned out except for brief flashes of his old self.
I went down to the office to work later that night and brought him down there with me to lay on his blanket in front of the heater like he loved to do and Spenser sat on the floor with him. Becky and I took turns with him through the night, but by the morning it was obvious we had a hard decision ahead of us. He was starting to look in pain and suffering, but he was still hanging on with us. I started calling around to find a vet who could accommodate all of us for his final goodbye.
I held him and watched game shows and then Becky held him and he stopped breathing a few times. Then later that morning, we picked the kids up from school and all of us drove him to the vet.
That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I second guessed myself and wanted to spend more time with him but didn’t want him to suffer. Once the doctor came in, Stewie was gone before I even had a chance to process it and that was it. I’m absolutely crushed and I don’t know what to do with myself. We took the kids to Dave & Buster’s for dinner and to play video games and distract us all for a while. It was a nice break for all of us to be together and tell stories about Stew and start to work through our grief.
We’re going to have a memorial for him this Sunday when we should be getting his ashes back and I’m sure it’ll start a whole other wave of grief. This all just sucks so bad and I miss my dog so much.