The Passing of a Friend

There are few things sadder than watching a family dog pass on. It’s hard to process, it’s painful, and I just witnessed it for the first time in my life.

Prada was getting old, and I knew the day was coming, but it still was a shock to the system when my girlfriend called me up hysterically crying. “We have to go to my parents’ house,” she said. “My dog is dying.”

Within 15 minutes, we arrived at the house where Prada, the old black lab, was sitting on a dog bed in the kitchen. She was surround by my girlfriend’s parents and a dish of water.

She was breathing heavily, she was sweating and she was unable to move due to the bone cancer that was diagnosed by a vet back in November. The vet told the family that she’d have about three months to live. It was time.

“I’m going to call the vet tomorrow, and we’re going to put her to sleep,” my girlfriend’s dad said. “She’s only going to suffer more.”

“No!” my girlfriend yelled out, tears in her eyes and hugging the dog that has been a part of her family since she was 10 years old.

For me, growing up with dogs was part of life, but when our family dog was put to sleep I wasn’t part of the decision. In fact, I’ve never even been around a dog that was deteriorating. My dad always kept us away from our dogs when they started getting really sick from old age. I’d notice that something was wrong, of course, and eventually there would be a telephone call telling me that he had sad news and that the dog had been euthanized, but I was never involved in the process.

Last week in Southampton, however, Prada was clearly within her last hours, and I was there. She was struggling to breath, and it was hard for me to hold back tears.

We left the house at around nine at night, and by the following morning we learned the Prada had passed on her own at around four in the morning. She gave her family the opportunity to say goodbye, even me. My girlfriend is convinced that she did this intentionally. It sounds crazy, but I think it could be true.

Having a family dog for some people is like having air—it’s something that they simply can’t live without. Dogs are noble, loyal and never stop being there for a family, even up until the very end. Their emotions are always honest and they bring countless years of happiness.

Although I’ve only known Prada for a year, I know her life was rich, filled with love and family and even homemade dog food cooked by my girlfriend’s mom. She was funny, happy and gave more than 15 years of joy to a household. And with any luck, if you believe in this sort of thing, she’s having a great time in dog heaven, enjoying an endless supply of tennis balls, fields to run in, beggin’ strips and things to bark at.

Southampton lost a good dog last week. She’ll be missed.

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