Tucker lost his battle with degenerative spinal myelopathy today. At first, the symptoms were minor, but the disease progressed to the point where even pulling himself into a standing position required effort. Everyone told us we would know when it was time. We waited for the signs, and indeed, there were times when he laid on the floor and the spark in his eyes was gone. There was a distant look, not of pain, but of resignation, as if his will had ended. But then, he would see one of us or catch a whiff of food and the light would rekindle. The roller coaster of emotions in deciding when to end his struggle became almost unbearable. What if we made the choice too soon? What if waiting caused him to suffer?
Our discussions focused on the depth of his spirit…the way he no longer transformed into a bouncing ball of energy whenever we mentioned going for a walk. How he could no longer stand and beg at the table. We kept telling ourselves that he still seemed happy even though his body was failing. We talked about Saturday mornings when he would pound his paw against the bedroom door until it opened and then run to the bed and “Tucker” us. The nights he spent cuddled with our daughters throughout their teenage years listening to their stories of heartbreak.
Tucker gifted us the kindness of his soul for almost twelve years. How could we use the breaking of his spirit as measurement for when to say goodbye? Was it really quality of life when he could no longer walk without his spine collapsing? Yes, the spark within still burned, but we realized we needed to let him go while the gentleness of his soul still existed.
Our gift to Tucker was to not let him die alone. With his failing health, our greatest fear was he would pass during the day alone and scared. Today, we celebrated his life with hot dogs for breakfast and a pizza party for lunch. He then left this world surrounded by the family he gave so much too. A peaceful death for a peaceful soul.
Tucker “Dude” 08/15/2002 to 06/12/2014