This is my dog, Arizona, a German Shepherd that I owned for twelve years, almost twelve years, and Bentley resting on top of her. Yesterday I had to make the hardest decision I can ever remember having to make. I had to have her put down. It was absolutely heart-breaking. But she had gotten to the point where she was in deep pain (more on how I know that later) and it would have been cruel to try to prolong her life. So I made the decision to put her down.
It is not an easy thing to do. I have never had to do it before and assumed it must be a little emotional thing, boy was I wrong about it being a “little” emotional. I was a mess! Couldn’t even get a coherent sentence out of my mouth when I was talking with the vet. But he was great and encouraged me to do what I thought was best. He said he would do whatever I wanted and patiently answered all of my questions. When I said, “I’m not going to be doing her any favors by trying to keep her alive am I?” He said no. So I said, “OK” and that was that. But before we get to the end of my friend’s life, I think it fitting to celebrate her life first.
She was born on December 21, 2000 and we picked her out six weeks to the day later. My older two kids selected her because she just “seemed right” and because she was the most assertive. I gave the breeder my $200.00 dollars and off we went. Shepherds are smart, she was potty-trained in no time. She could sit, stay and lay down in the first few weeks and that is all she needed to know as far as I was concerned. I took her most places I went and we formed a bond, her and I. I was the Alpha human and she was the Alpha dog, so we got along well.
My kids named her Arizona because their Grandma lived in Arizona and they loved to visit, so why not name your dog after a place that makes you feel good just thinking about? Why not indeed and Arizona it was. We lived in Midland, Texas when we first brought her home. She whined like the puppy she was that first night, but then got used to us I suspect. It wasn’t long before she was chewing up things, but that didn’t last long after she was scolded. She was so eager to please us, although she did have a mind of her own and pity the person who tried to take any food away from her, unless you were my kids, then she just got up and wondered off.
When she was about five years old we moved to Nebraska. Arizona wasn’t too sure about the snow, being from Texas and all, but she adapted well. We had a neighbor that she always growled at and we never knew why. That is until I saw the neighbor boy throwing rocks and hitting her with a stick through the chain-link fence in the backyard. Imagine my surprise when Arizona bit that boy, not hard, just hard enough to say, “Stop!” And he did, although his dad didn’t like it, but he got over it.
Arizona hated the water, all things wet. When the kids would jump in the pool she would run around chasing them and nipping their heels, it was hilarious. And she would bark and bark, I guess trying to prevent them from getting into the water. I mentioned she hated the water? One day Taylor thought it might be funny to “fake” her drowning to see what Arizona would do. Much to everyone’s surpise, Arizona jumped in the water to try to save her. Taylor ended up saving her, but Arizona’s protection gland was in full force and would remain so.
Arizona loved my mom, even though my mom was not a big dog fan, Arizona felt compelled to protect my mom each time she would visit. Once when all of my family was over my brother took my son’s pet snake out of his cage and was trying to scare my mother with by putting it close to her face. The second time my mom screamed and that was it for Arizona; she bit my brother right on the arm, funniest thing I ever saw. She didn’t so much bite him as she did warn him . That put an end to th snake teasing!
The vet came into the room which would end up being the room I said goodbye to my friend and proclaimed, “That is an old dog you have there.” I didn’t see her being old, just “weathered” a little. But the truth was she was old, and in pain. It turns out she had a tumor on top of everything else and so I gave up my hope she would be restored, and decided to let loose of my buddy and allow her to feel no more pain. I can’t tell you how hard it was, but as I watched the pink fluid injected into her veins I saw the pain release from her eyes as I held her head as life ebbed from her mortal body going to a better place, I hope. She left this world at 2:40 pm on June 12, 2012. Sleep well old friend and know I am grateful to a gracious God who allowed me to call you friend. I love you Arizona!