Christmas Day 2021 started with the usual activity and family gathering, but soon the festive season turned into sadness and tears when Tas, our 13+ year old Labrador fractured his upper leg. He was in great pain initially, but was able to move with difficulty after a while though still clearly in pain. I wasn’t in the mood to continue with the Christmas gathering given how Tas was suffering and decided to get him home to a more comfortable environment, where he could rest at least in some modicum of comfort and familiar surrounds. We gave him some Valium and that allowed him to sleep the night through and, in the morning, I called the emergency number of our local vet. I held off from calling on Christmas Day, but it turns out that the vet was busy all Christmas Day and well into Boxing Day.
We got Tas to the vet in the afternoon and, after a brief check, it was clear that Tas had fractured a bone and x-rays were needed. We feared the worst and when the vet called us with the diagnosis, our fears were confirmed. A tumor had developed in the bone and weakened it, which caused the break, so it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen. There were only two options that the vet could give, amputate the leg to stop the spread (if it wasn’t elsewhere already) or put Tas to sleep. We’d already discussed the possibilities for the worse happening and, given that Tas was already suffering hip problems and finding it increasingly difficult to walk, the only kind option was the most difficult to make. He had been so healthy and full of life until now.
So once again, we had to make that awful and final decision. At least Tas was already under anaesthetic and the pain killer he’d been given had also made things more comfortable for him before the x-rays, so it was a peaceful departure. Anyone who loves dogs understands the impact of losing a lifetime friend. Dogs aren’t here for a long time, but what they contribute is worth many lifetimes. What this brought back to me was the loss of Tas’s sister Jenna a few years ago, also to cancer. The loss struck very hard and it took some time for emotions to settle, but having Tas around helped a lot. Now the house feels so empty and everywhere I look there is evidence and memories of what is no longer.
We’ve cleared some things away now, such as bedding, but I don’t feel like wiping away everything that reminds me of Tas in one fell swoop. There’s no rush and it’s not like we need space for the small things that remind us of what was. Tas will be cremated and his remains will join those of Jenna and our previous Labrador Jamie. One day we’ll find a suitable place for the ashes of all three friends. What we do from here, I’m not sure. We’ve had dogs in our life for most of our marriage and there’s something special that they bring to our lives. For the time being though, I’d like a break and take the time to settle before deciding whether to get another and when.
I think we’ve been blessed in that all of the dogs that we’ve owned have simply been marvellous and well behaved, friendly to all and great companions. My only reservation is that it’s become increasingly difficult to take dogs anywhere camping in Victoria, as I’ve noted before, more than once. Our state and local governments seem to hate dogs, as they impose more and more restriction every year, not just in state parks, but also in local parks. Every year we have to search harder and harder to find bush camping spots where we can take our four-legged family members and it’s never an easy task.That said, having a dog is always worth more than the hassles.
All I can say is that both Tas and Jenna are sorely missed.