Yesterday, we said goodbye to my best grumpy old friend. Chester stopped eating his dog food on Thursday, and by Sunday night he wouldn’t even eat the peanut butter to take his liver medication. He wouldn’t leave the water bowl unless I physically carried him or he had to go outside. Over the past few years with all of his liver problems and busting his hip, i’ve never thought he was unhappy or suffering. He had no fucks left to give for this world, so we took him in to be euthanized.
We got Chester from an adoption event in front of a Walmart in 2005. Brian was deploying in the fall, and I wanted a dog to take care of so I wouldn’t spend three days in the same pjs, and cats don’t really inspire a person to get out of bed (quite the opposite). The lady asked what kind of dog we were looking for and I said, “I don’t know…medium sized? One I can walk that won’t walk me.” We met one dog who was very cute but so hyper I couldn’t even get him to look at me. So we moved onto a smiling white and brown mutt, and when I knelt down he wagged his nub and licked my face. We walked him around for a little bit and he was happy but not psychotic, so we said we wanted him. He came neutered (the previous owner ‘did it himself’) and was four years old, so he set us back a whopping $20. Best $20 we’ve ever spent.
Chester got me through two deployments, many training sessions, Bonny’s death, Brian’s flight school, and a lot of depression. Until he broke his hip, he slept with me every night. When Brian was deployed, he would wedge himself into my back, which made me uncomfortable so i’d scoot an inch away, and then he’d scoot, and that is why I woke up most mornings on the opposite side of the bed from which I had started. He was a great dog to hug, you could really hang onto him. He didn’t like kids and sometimes adults (mostly if they came over and he was trying to figure them out and they would try to touch him too soon) so casual observers didn’t care much for him, but everyone close to him knew what was up. My father-in-law said several times that Chester was the smartest dog he’s ever met. Everyone said he had the most expressive face.
When he went in for a dental cleaning three years ago, we found out about his liver and thyroid, so he started taking medication. We adjusted, Chester was still himself minus the teeth they pulled. Dinnertime became more complicated with soaking food and pills, but we worked it out. Eventually he lost the extra weight he had been carrying around and his doctor was pleased. When he dislocated his hip, obviously he was in pain, but he still smiled when he wasn’t high as a kite. He stopped sleeping with us except for short naps, but his bed was next to my head and I could dangle my arm down and touch his ears. They weren’t nearly as big, but he had those soft beagle ears that I could rub for days.
Chester’s hip, even after surgery, meant that he fell down a lot. He had to re-learn how to squat to poop. People would see him fall over in the grass and get really concerned, but he would just smile and get up. He meant to do that, guys. He managed to sprain his good leg earlier this year which meant for a few days he couldn’t walk at all, so we had to carry him like a football outside and hold his food bowl so he could eat in his bed. He could no longer go up the stairs alone, because even if he tried he was probably going to lose his grip and slide back down. When we were looking for houses, one criteria was that Chester would not have to go down a flight of stairs to get outside. Here, my computer is in the same room as the back door so he only went upstairs to go to sleep.
When we moved, shit started getting weird. For the first time ever, Chester started peeing in the house. Chester had always woken me up if he needs to pee, and he didn’t take ‘fuck off, i’m sleeping’ for an answer. Giant lakes of pee in the living room. At first I thought, “Oh, he must’ve been thirsty in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back upstairs and then we couldn’t hear him yip.” So we put an extra water dish in the hall bathroom upstairs. That didn’t help, so we got his old dog pen out and put it around his bed in the corner. That meant no arm dangling in the middle of the night, and I started to get bummed out. Around this time, we took him in to the vet to check his levels, because I noticed he had lost a little weight. We took him off of his thyroid medication and onto the gall bladder gunk blaster. That was about two weeks ago.
On Sunday, Brian went to Chicago all day and I had nothing to do but observe my dog and come to the conclusion that he was over life. I even tried annoying him to get a reaction, like putting a stuffed toy on his head or giving him a bath (he was pretty damn dirty). He let the toy sit there and after his bath, didn’t even try to rub himself on the carpet. I talked to my friend Katie about it, and she gave me lots of advice and support and I love her. I tricked him into eating some of his dinner by sprinkling some of Brian’s shredded cheese on it, but he eventually threw that up and continued to puke up nothing but water or a drop of bile until his appointment yesterday. When Brian came home, we were all huddled together on the living room floor, watching Buffy (except Harley, because she is an independent poof who likes to lay in the foyer). Maybe it was my totally bloodshot eyes or the way I was spooning my dog in a tight grip, but he could tell something was wrong. We talked about it, and agreed to call the vet in the morning. I ‘slept’ on the living room floor all night with Chester and Fawkes. Fawkes is a good brother. They never got that super-bond thing that Chester and Bonny had, but Fawkes knew something was wrong and continued to hang out.
One thing I did on Sunday was look at pictures of Chester, and being reminded of how much fun he used to have and how much he used to jump and romp around, actually helped me realize that we were doing the right thing. No matter how much my brain may try to tell me otherwise, I did not kill my dog. He was already checked out. We were just coming in to turn off the lights and make the bed. Or some other metaphor. To quote Whitney Houston out of context, it’s not right, but it’s okay.
So here we have some of Chester’s greatest moments. I did take some pictures of him yesterday and there are plenty of other recent ones on instagram, but most of these are very old. This first one is the day we brought him home (my friend Julie said he looked like Chester from Sifl and Oly, so he was named). Other than that, they’re in no particular order. Look at my dog and laugh.