Saturday was a tough day. Well, it kinda started Friday but still had no idea what Saturday had in store.
I was putting Austin down to nap Friday afternoon and heard a loud whimpering downstairs. I knew it was Nate, our 8+ year-old dachshund. Rarely did he make a peep other than when Graham would ring the doorbell 35 times after getting home from anywhere.
This was different. He was full-on yelping in agony.
I wasn’t sure if he fell down the stairs or what the hell was going on. I turned the corner to go downstairs and there he was, uncomfortable propped up on his front legs.
I went to pick him on and his back legs just seemed weird to me. Like they weren’t functioning. And, as it turns out, they weren’t.
I called the vet and made an appointment for the next day, figuring maybe he would start limping and because he didn’t really seem to be in pain. He just seemed sullen and withdrawn, which looking back lasted about a week. But ya know, dogs can’t talk about stuff.
We got to the vet – one we’d taken him to a few months prior when he had some soft tissue trauma in his rear left knee (?) after stepping awkwardly in the yard. I explained what happened, they looked him over, and offered up some analysis.
Basically he was paralyzed from the mid-back to the tip of his tail, and in a back dog, like a dachshund, this can be the kiss of death. And it was.
But damn, the emotions, trying to make the right decision. I never had a dog growing up. We had Bernie, the yellow canary (maybe?) who I found “sleeping on the bottom of his cage” when I was young and then two cats, but never a dog.
Even though I got aggravated with his penchant for running through the woods to the neighbor’s house after letting him out then forgetting because the kids diverted my attention away from the fact that I had just let Nate out…whatever. Despite his peeing/shitting on the carpet while we vacuumed and his hair being everywhere.
He was family. We shared a bond I never understood but has since become clear.
The kids are all taking it differently. Nolan is the only one who really gets it, even though he really didn’t pay him much attention. He thinks Nate is looking for his friend’s dog, who also passed away “Nate’s probably looking for him because I think he died in Hartford, and that’s pretty close. So they’re probably running around, if they found each other yet.” He mentions that he misses Nate at least once a day, which often prompts Graham to somberly agree with his older brother. Austin, who probably spent the most time with and paid the most attention to Nate, hasn’t said anything (partly because he can’t yet speak).
Nolan has stood by his memorial in the backyard every day since it happened, saying goodbye to him in the morning, clearing the leaves off the N-shaped rock formation we made. And I think he’ll keep doing this…especially once we plant some flowers and maybe a blueberry bush in that spot.
We got Nate back in 2009, as we illegally harbored him (no pets allowed) in our one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. He preceded Linds and I getting married as well as all of our human children. Once Nolan came along a few years later, Nate was ever-gracious in sharing the spotlight with him…or relinquishing it.
He was the sweetest and most gentle dog ever. Not to mention he was handsome as shit. All three boys had their fun at Nate’s expense – grabbing his jowls, pulling his tail, trying to ride him like a horse – but not once did he snap at them. Ever.
He spent most of his day propped up on the couch staring out the window unless it was dinner time, where he’d prop himself up on his hind legs like a freakin’ chocolate Easter bunny. He didn’t give a shit about a game of fetch or chasing a ball or eating rawhide. He lived to eat and sleep.
He’ll always be a part of our family (besides the fact that I had a dachshund line-drawing tattooed on my shoulder years ago on a whim).
Rest Easy, Nate.
We love you.