This is C.C., and on Saturday we had to let her go. She was at least 14; it's hard to say, since she came from the street. In the past year, she'd been plagued by problem upon problem, from neurological issues in the back end to skin infections to what I came to think of as "Dogzheimers:'' pacing (when her back legs held up, which they hardly did at the end), whining, sleeplessness, dropping poop trails through the house as she wandered around looking for the dog door she'd been using for four years, and such obvious anxiety and disconnectedness that it was painful to watch.
As anyone who has been through this knows, there comes a point at which we must fulfill our part of the deal with the animals who depend on us for absolutely everything, including - or especially - quality of life in their old age. I'm chagrined to say that I have, more than once, permitted my pets to get beyond that point for reasons that I'm sure everyone understands: We love them, we'll miss them, and we can't imagine what it's like to come home and not have them greet us in their own special way. In C.C.'s case as a younger dog, that meant spinning around in wild circles because she was so excited.
So for the second time in a year, Jake and I found ourselves sitting on the floor of an exam room at Emerald Hills Animal Hospital in Hollywood, stroking the head of a sweet old dog whose time had come, crying as we told her about the wonders of Doggie Heaven: grassy meadows, shade trees, cold bubbling brooks, squirrels to chase (but never catch) and all the good dogs who'd preceded her, waiting so excitedly to romp with her again. She went quietly and peacefully.
And now we are five: Gracie, Shadow, Moose, Harley and Cowboy. Sounds like a lot, but the house seems strangely empty.