The Long Last Walk – Doggy Bucket List

This morning our Dachshund, Cinnamon, met her end. It was relatively peaceful and at the Vet. A sedative, then a barbitol.

She has had some kind of cancer, very large breast lumps and metastasized to other skin areas, for a few years. Very warm to the touch, they were metabolizing fast, and putting a strain on the kidneys. We had a blood panel done to see if surgery to remove the lumps was likely to work well. 2 markers for early stage kidney failure showed up. It would be 2 surgeries, one for each mammary chain on each side, with time in between for the skin to repair and fill in the missing segments.

Cinnamon was 2 months shy of 15 years old. Very old for a dog. We’d scheduled the surgery anyway. But over the month or so of waiting for the date to arrive, she had gotten worse. Occasional chin tremors. Sometimes the back legs didn’t stay under her. Beginning of incontinence and “accidents”. Mostly just wanted to sleep between eating sessions.

There were small pea sized lumps under her chest and neck skin, and who knows where all else. Surgery would not be curative, only reducing the tumor mass for quality of life for some months. Now we were not sure it would even improve quality of life. Looking at a major surgery, a month or two of recovery, then another one, and another recovery. Starts to be 1/2 year of absolute misery. For what? Maybe a couple of months after that?

In the last year she has become deaf, and cataracts are starting in both eyes. She still gets around, but follows the other dog for sound cues and her nose for other things. How bad would that be in another six months?

Then yesterday she woke up and looked at the spouse with, as the spouse describes it, an “I’m Done” look. Just tired of waking up a bit miserable. She still had her moments of joy, but they were now muted and ended in moments after the event was over.

It was clear we were thinking about our desires to keep her around, more than her desires to not hurt and not have issues.

So we called the Vet and changed surgery to euthanasia. That happened hours ago.

But before that – Doggy Bucket List

Somewhere along the line in the last year, I was being pestered for some of “What you have” while making toast. I decided to show them it was not interesting, just bread. My mistake. They both LOVED the bit of crust of buttered toast. So for a few months now I’ve let them have a couple of bites.

They also love cheese (but we had stopped most of the cheese snacks after hearing that it makes some dogs sneeze and wipe their face on the carpet – after which they sneezed less and stopped wiping their face on the carpet).

Well, 2 days ago I was making one of my favorites – a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Yup, you guessed it. Cinnamon got to have a good bit of Grilled Cheese bits carefully cut to bite size.

OMG! TWO favorite things, combined, in a particularly wonderful way! Can you say “dance with joy”? But as soon as it was gone, the slightly pained look on the face & in the eyes returned. Still, it was definitely Bucket List Quality ;-)

I’d taken out the old couch and put it in the “dispose” pile. The dogs had been given occasional Couch Privileges if I was sitting on it. Complete with Big Blanky over all of us. For about 5 days I got “stink eye” from them as I was sitting in a dining table chair and no couch for them. About 4 days ago we brought in a “Love Seat” sized couch from storage. Never saw two dogs so full of joy and excitement at a bit of furniture. We’ve had 4 days of “snuggles on the couch with the Big Blanky” along with sporadic late time TV.

It was unlimited couch time…

Yesterday, we did a Long Last Walk. A few years ago, Cinnamon would go about a mile to a local park, and back. About 3/4 of the way back she would shift from “excited rate” to “stop and smell the roses” rate. Every stone, plant, pole, patch of dirt. Stop and sniff it. That indicated fatigue on her part. (The Malty-Poo liked to pull and set the pace as fast, especially early on.) Last year it was about 2 to 3 blocks and done.

This time I deliberately let it all be wherever her nose lead her and only at Her Rate (he could pull on me, the immovable…). We got to the end of the block and she had already shifted from “excited” to “smell the roses. The tour went roughly around the block, across a street, back, across to the other side of in front of our house, and 2 houses down (so she knew home was ‘just over there’). And she stopped. Turned around and looked toward the house and started that way slowly. My impression was “This has been great fun, but I’m tired and want my pillow now”.

We then had more Couch Time ;-) with snuggles.

Last Night, dinner was 3 Lamb Loin Chops, kibbled, and as much roast chicken kibbled as she wanted (about 1.5 thighs). (Normally it was only a little bit of kibbled trimmings on her commercial dog kibble. Last night it was 100% unlimited all treats all the time.

Then back to the couch… About 1 AM, they went to the front yard fenced area and got to do a “Midnight Bark” at some creature of the night. No reprimand this time. Bark all you want.

Somewhere along the way in the last 2 days were 3 or 4 full neck and back massages. (and what a back …) Plus the spouse was giving the twice daily string cheese treat (as the Malty Poo was getting a pill in one so she got one sans pill as balance ;-)

I spent from about 2 AM to 7 AM on the couch with a fully snuggled Cinnamon and Blanky. She snored, but softly ;-) She had a look of supreme contentment for a while. I think she actually smiled.

I can’t think of much else that would or could be on her Doggy Bucket List. Never a water dog, and nothing to hunt here. ( I suppose I could have gotten her a rat to chase, but not for a geriatric dog, I think…) A Last Long Walk, slowly. Bark at the moon and creatures of the night. Banquet Buffet. Unlimited couch, blanky and snuggles.

This morning was a roast chicken leftovers breakfast, then the trip to the Vet. A peaceful exit.

Cinnamon was named for her coat color. Cinnamon will be missed and remembered every time I open the spice cabinet or make lamb chops or roast chicken or have toast or a grilled cheese. I’ll be looking down for that expectant face full of impending joy…

So long Cinnamon. Hope the Bucket List was fulfilled.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to The Long Last Walk – Doggy Bucket List

  1. Rudolph Hucker says:

    ❤️ 😊 ❤️ 🐶 ❤️

  2. So Sorry. I had 2 dogs, each of which lived to 17 years. With my last dog I stayed up each night for the last week making sure she was Ok. It broke my heart to have her put down but, like yours, she had deteriorated so much she had no quality of life and we were keeping her going for our sake not yours.

  3. Weetabix says:

    Sorry to hear it, E.M. But it sounds like you made her last hours great.

  4. cdquarles says:

    Somewhat like Bruce’s last days. You brought a tear to this old, crusty, granddad.

  5. H.R. says:

    Too soon after we lost our Cairn on February 28 and our Scotty on June 1 of this year.

    I really feel for you, but it is the right thing to do. It hurts because you miss them, but a large part of it is because you have to make the call. They can’t discuss it with you to let you know, “Yeah, it’s time.” So it’s all on you and your best judgement.

    It seems you played it just right. I did the Doggie Bucket List for both of ours and it definitely gave them a bit of cheer.

    That’s it. I can’t write any more right now.

  6. entropyfoe says:

    EM, Sounds like our dachshund, Lexi She also made it 15 years, long for a doxi.
    She was such a loving and lovable dog, but at the end she could hardly walk, and some kind of swelling in her belly, and we didn’t want to torment her with treatments at that age.

    So like you, she had a wonderful last few days, and a loving vet put her to sleep with me and my daughter holding her. Sad- but it was best for her, and not for us humans. My wife could not bear to be there.

  7. Paul, Somerset says:

    Beautiful. You’ve judged it just right.
    My sheltie x border collie is sixteen now, with a touch of arthritis and poor eyesight, and, like me, she’s stone deaf. So it’s all about making sure every moment of every day is as good as it can be from here on. We live our lives at her pace and to her rhythms.

  8. rogercaiazza says:

    My condolences. I know how hard it is to lose a dog companion. I think you did the right thing and made her happy to the end. Your story reminded me of my dog’s last day. He loved being outside so we waited for the appointment in the yard. I tear up every time I look at this picture: https://pragmaticenvironmentalistofnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2021/10/poignant.jpg

  9. Double on Tundra says:

    Dusty in here, all of a sudden.

    Those small kindnesses — this is what I imagine — rewrote Cinnamon’s brain chemistry for the last pages of her final chapter. And while she could sense how sad you were despite your brave faces at the vet’s office, she knew there was nothing to fear.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m having a bit rougher time of it than I’d expected. I keep seeing “Ghost Dogs” where she would normally be. In the kitchen I got used to doing a quick look down to “dance around the dog” when working there as she would be DIRECTLY underfoot. An instinctive “look down” showed only my feet. Exiting the bedroom or bath, I’d listen for the “grump grump” or “snuffle snuffle” noises that told me I’d get a toe licking on opening the door and not to rush through.

    Then at times if the door were closed not latched, so about an inch open, it would just drift open, she would come in to check on me, give one toe lick, and turn around and leave. Now the door is just a door.

    I think this is going to take a while.

  11. beththeserf says:

    Sympathy for your loss of a loyal companion. I still miss our sixteen year old border collie after two years…

  12. Nick Fiekowsky says:

    Condolences on Cinnamon’s passing. I add to the chorus that you took the best, albeit difficult, course for your dog at the right time.

    Dogs are extraordinarily loyal. They will cling to life, regardless of pain or disability, as long as they feel their human relies on their company. It breaks my heart when I see a human put their reluctance to experience the dog’s inevitable death above their animal’s suffering during those last weeks or months.

    We have cats, I had not considered the “feline bucket list” concept. Our criteria are dignity, which is very important to cats, and quality of life. As soon as those are seriously sub-par, It’s a trip to the vet for euthanasia. I suspect some senses operate for a time after circulation stops, so stay with the cat for five or ten minutes after the vet declares death, petting, praising and thanking. After the years the cat provided love, decoration and pest control, it deserves that.

  13. jim2 says:

    Sorry to hear about your dog. They are special people.

  14. Annie says:

    So sad E.M.S., but you did the right thing and made a special time for Cinnamon at the end. You will feel grief but you will also have those memories that will always be there.
    We were devastated at having to put down our previous dogs so understand how awful it is. They become so much part of the family. The first was Shep, a long-haired GSD. He was going blind and deaf and had arthritis. We were due to move back to England and, although our daughter would have kept him, we felt it too hard for the poor fellow as she already had a GSD who had become dominant. Our country vet came and was kindness itself. I still feel upset after all these years. Our second, a Border Collie, Bess, was only 7 but had been badly hurt by a black lab that attacked her in our garden. She had a massive infection and spent a few nights at our lovely nearby vet’s and seemingly recovered, on a special diet. Some months later we came home to find her in terrible trouble; a Saturday, needless to say. Our same lovely vet said to bring her in and he would come in to see her. After examining her, he turned to look at us and I just said ‘It’s no good, is it?’. Each time we couldn’t face the thought of another dog, but now, back in Australia, we have another Border Collie, Jack. He’s good company though has a tendency to lie around the kitchen in the way or clutter up the bathroom door!
    I like to think that C.S.Lewis was right about one’s animals. I can’t quote him verbatim but it was on the lines that if love is eternal, then one’s loved pets continue to exist as they also show love.

  15. entropyfoe says:

    EM,

    It is so sad, it takes time. I know your are suffering, but you prevented greater suffering for Cinnamon. Doxies are so devoted to their owners and families, the bonds are strong.
    You have another dog, so that helps. Does the other dog show signs of missing Cinnamon?

    After two years we did get another dog, but it took that long.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    The “other dog” is a Maltese – Poodle mix and about 12 lbs. He’s much more rapid in his movements, but emotionally more subdued, much more socially aware, and tends to “give you your space” if you just look a bit unhappy about him being in the kitchen. His coat is curls of white and is named Coconut for that reason. He stands back, silently, in the entry to the kitchen and plans his strategy… Cinnamon was front row and vocalizing (from “purrs” to “grumps” to more, we actually would talk a bit as I learned her meanings).

    He was at the vet with us and Cinnamon for her passing, and was allowed to see and sniff her during the process, precisely so he would know what happened and would not be constantly looking. Leaving the vet, with him alone in the carrier, reinforced that too.

    He’s been less enthusiastic and more “looks at us with a concerned for our emotional state” look. Not trying to join in the Evening Neighborhood Bark and such. Cinnamon was the ambitious trouble starter, while Coconut mostly just likes Lap Time (and we’ve both had extra). The Malty-Poo was developed just for the role of lap comfort dog.

    This morning, the bedroom door did not drift open, no toe was requested for a health check lick. Upon arising, no “lick, head toward kitchen, lick head toward kitchen, repeat” happened while I was sitting on the couch. Normally when making morning coffee, I’d put the soaked – softened kibble in their bowls (hers inside, his other side of the front door where she could not put him off of it). This morning, nobody underfoot during the coffee prep. No “Done in 30 seconds now open the front door!” expedite to get to his food. (She would often do the “follow me” dance to take me to the front door, full of anticipation and excitement at maybe having a half dozen kibble to “clean up” as Coconut is a more picky eater… This morning just a bowl of kibble on the floor and Coconut leaving some extra… to dry and be thrown out eventually.)

    All that excitement about life had faded a lot in the prior couple of weeks, but was still there for a few minutes of each event. Now it is just ended and gone. No happy face looking up in great anticipation over the possibility of a bit of buttered toast crust, or dancing in joy over some Grilled Cheese bits. (You could just hear the “Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!” over the grilled cheese… tail going full tilt each way at full speed) Coconut is too self controlled and polite for that. He stands back and “brightens” his expression, but is studious about assessing the odds and not pushing his welcome. Tail waggle and bit of a prance upon presentation of The Goods is about all he gives.

    Now, after breakfast, no “snort , grumph” outside the bedroom door wondering if I can be maneuvered out to the couch for some couch snuggles time. I suppose I don’t even need to take my toast & coffee to the bedroom to avoid “expedites” about sharing anymore… Coconut “takes a hint” with a “no” or even just a finger waved at his “crate”. Cinnamon was absolutely certain – She Would Not Quit. “Give Up” just was not in her, so both often got some bits of whatever was on my plate for her insistence.

    Basically, Cinnamon knew what she wanted and worked on you to get it. Coconut knows what he wants, too, but “does as told” and “avoids a negative interaction” when possible. Very different personalities.

    I suppose eventually I’ll learn to walk about the house without looking at my feet to make sure I don’t whack a dog. Cinnamon liked to get right in front of you and “lead the parade” with tail waggle and all, but at about 3/4 of your desired walking pace! When suddenly initiated it could result in more “Dance of The Dachshund” as you rapidly shifted foot placement and cadence to avoid a “kick or fall” event. Coconut stays carefully out of your way.

    I’d not realized until know just how many personal habits had been formed around Cinnamon over the last 4 years. (We “inherited” them from the Son after they moved to Chicago. 3 flights of stairs in snow to “do their duty” in a shared yard was not to anyone’s liking… No stairs, whole private yard, door always open a bit, California weather, squirrels & birds always available for the Daily Bark Challenge – I like to think they felt the change was akin to Doggy Paradise ;-)

    I no longer regret all the times she managed to lick my neck, chest, occasionally cheek and other skin, like belly skin, when on the couch and I’d forgotten to button up the shirt & such. I’d sit, she’d join me on the couch, I’d forget and be reminded by a good bit of licking starting up. She seemed to really like the process ( I think it might have been the salt… but her eyes were more “loving” than just food / salt; like she was trying to express gratitude for services here.) I’d basically given up on hands and feet and just would wash the “slime” off afterwards. But tried, and failed sometimes, to draw the line there. I wonder if I’ll still have the urge to “button up” after working outside in the heat and being a bit sweaty? Guess I’ll find out. Coconut doesn’t lick beyond 2 or 3 barely a tongue touch on a couple of very rare occasions. Maybe 4 all told? 1/yr.

    Now I’ll go out and clean up after breakfast. Nobody will be asking for more kibble, or wondering about left over crusts and such. Coconut’s dish will not need retrieving from the porch step, him let in, her let out to clean up. No need to check on who is in the yard (coconut likes his pillow). No Morning Bark at the squirrels starting their day (they make a run from a fruit tree to the nest tree on a Telco Wire beside the yard). Just a 2nd cup of coffee and “what’s on the ToDo list for the day?”

    Her enthusiasm about each day was something I looked forward to sharing. I’d not realized how much. Now it’s just coffee and chores. A bit later some couch time with Coconut. But he mostly just takes a nap then. Not the same energy.

    Oh Well. I’ll adjust.

  17. The True Nolan says:

    Hey, E.M. So sorry to hear about the loss of such a nice friend. In such situations I try to remember that occasional grief is the price of the ticket to ride the roller coaster of life. Sounds like you handled Cinnamon’s last days perfectly. If I ever come back as a dog I hope I end up in the Smith household. My condolences to you and the wife.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    After 75 years of living with livestock I wonder just which is the “Pet” Me or they, as I have become “married” to them for years. Their presents is a comfort to me as much as I am to them.
    I still see them out of the corner of the eye before remembering their end and me burying them.
    Even their replacements are confusing to me for a time.
    For a time I swore off being married to livestock but in a weak moment I allowed my lady to bring them home because she wanted pets, ( guess I’m not enough ) But I seem to be the one they gravitate toward. They know who takes care of them. talks to them , pays attention to what they have to say and to their needs.
    Whether parents, siblings, wife, children or business partners, They think I need animals to take care of to make my life complete. How do I say Hell No! to animals that need being properly cared for.?

  19. David A says:

    Thanks for sharing EM. Non dog owners don’t know the level of absolute trust dogs give. I think you guys did just right. Last November we lost our 18 year old poodle mix. Same basic decision. For the last week we took our mattress off the frame to be on the floor level with her. One evening at sleep time I looked at her and knew this was our last night. Her pain was too great She immediately began to give me her “thank you licks” She always gave a lick or two as a please before a treat, and a thank you after.
    She hated the vet office, so it was finished at home.
    I am no poet, and yet these words convey
    My Lorelei Die
    Semper Fi, Lorelei

  20. Kneel says:

    “We have cats, I had not considered the “feline bucket list” concept. Our criteria are dignity, which is very important to cats, and quality of life.”

    Indeed. For cats, it is trust – if they trust you to be kind to them and care for their comfort, they will do things with/for you they won’t let anyone else even get close to. They are also much more wilful creatures than dogs.
    But both make good companions and it is always sad when they inevitably pass – so, as per everyone else, my condolences EM and also support that you did they right thing by and for your best friend.

  21. Pinroot says:

    EM, I’m really sorry for your loss. It sounds like you made her last days good ones.
    We’re cat people, no dogs. We’ve currently got seven, and over the years we’ve lost five for various reasons. I’ll be honest, each one of me affected me more than I would have believed, and I still miss each of them to this day. It does take a while to get past it.

  22. Ossqss says:

    @EM, Dude, I feel ya. Been there, hang in there and go through the process. Everyone does, no matter the loss. It is an uncomfortable, but normal thing.

  23. Terry Jackson says:

    My condolences on your loss, E.M. Ya done good. This too shall pass. She changed and enriched your life. Keep the memories.

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