Today we had to say goodbye to sweet Labrador, Oscar.
Shortly after Tyson and I purchased our home we decided that it needed a dog. I grew up with dogs, Tyson had never had one. We spent some time looking at the local shelters (because I am a firm believer in adopting dogs from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder) and then one day we found Oscar. He was still a puppy, less than 3 months old, but as cute as can be and so lovable. We brought him home with us that night and so since September 2008 he has been a part of our family. He loves to be with people and developed a protective nature midway through my pregnancy with Lily.
As children came along we came to see just how wonderful he really was. While he was hyper and a bit crazy with adults, he was gentle and protective of the babies. Our children have known him their entire lives. He has been someone to cuddle with, climb on, and playmate.
A year ago we decided that Oscar needed a friend so we adopted Franky. They played together and took care of one another. Over the last several months, as Oscar had gotten sicker, they seemed to have grown closer. Franky cuddled up with him more often rather than running through the yard chasing each other like they used to do.
Towards the end of last summer I noticed that something was just not quite right with Oscar. He seemed to be experiencing some lameness in his hind legs. At first I thought that it was just stiffness from getting up after a nap, but then I noticed it happening when he has been up and about for a while. He was also very hungry, all the time, and started to put on weight. Then the seizures started. Small at first, just little ticks in his face that were hardly noticeable, they got worse, and eventually he was having grand mal seizures. We took him to the vet who at first was sure that it was just a case of epilepsy, apparently it is fairly common in middle-aged Labradors. She was going to run some blood tests to rule out other causes, but not to worry. I didn't, I felt so relieved, epilepsy could be easily treated. A couple of days later I got another phone call, something was off, it could have been lab tech error, so they wanted to do it again. I took Oscar back in and they checked his blood sugars, again it was low, and I mean really low, mid-30's. Dogs are like people here, it should be over 80. It was his low blood sugar that was causing his seizures. The vet ran one more test and that was when we learned that Oscar had insulinomas in his pancreas, tumors that were causing his pancreas to secrete too much insulin, causing his blood sugar to be too low, which is what was causing his seizures. At this point treatment wasn't an option. Our veterinarian prescribed some steroids for him to act as an insulin blocker to keep the seizures away. We have known since last November that he wouldn't be with us long. Our veterinarian advised us on how to know when it would be the right time to let him go.
Over the last few weeks Oscar has stopped playing, he is just lying around waiting for more food. It has been a very hard decision, but Tyson and I felt that the time had come to let him go. Monday was a beautiful day. It was sunny and warm and he got to spend a lot of time outside on the lawn with the girls. I also took some pictures of him with each of the kids.
Charlotte loves her puppy!
Oscar has been Lily's buddy for her entire life.
Gideon was sad that I took his toy away for the picture.
These pictures actually confirmed for me our decision that it was time. Normally Oscar would be smiling with the kids cuddled him or sat in his lap, but he just looks sad to me. I told the kids that Oscar would be dying, I was not sure that I could really explain euthanasia to children so young, but they accepted it when I told him that he was going to pass away and that we wouldn't have him anymore. They have known for several months now that he is sick and that he would be dying someday.
This afternoon Tyson and I took Oscar to be put to sleep. It was so hard for us, we loved our dog, he was ours before we had children, but he was so wonderful with the kids that it just made us love him more. I thanked him for being such a good dog and then he was gone.
Last night we used some clay and made a paw print from Oscar that we could keep. I also went through several years worth of photographs and printed off dozens of pictures of Oscar and the kids. We picked up a photo album and today put the pictures in it, talking about what we loved most about Oscar and the fun things that we did with him.
We will miss him so much, but that is the risk that we take when we choose to love someone. With great love comes the possibility of great loss and you know what, he was totally worth it.