Thursday, July 17, 2008

What To Do With a Dead Dog: Meet the Passed On

uncool and kiner puppyI loved "Marley and Me" until, at the Things' school book fair this past autumn, I saw the author had created a 40-page children's picture book based on it ... and was selling it for $16.99 a pop.

Pass.

Shortly thereafter, whilst browsing the local book dealers' wares, I stumbled upon Anna Quindlen's "Good Dog. Stay." It's a "tribute" to her deceased black Lab filled with all the dog-as-methaphor-for-living-life-to-the-fullest-babble you can get from a Dr. Phil special.

And I like Anna's work. But 96 pages long -- half of them photos of dogs she didn't own, the other half in VERY BIG, DOUBLE-SPACED TYPE. -- at $14.95??!
kiner with underwear on head
Blood.

Pressure.

Rising.

I seriously thought of penning a parody of AQ's book called "Dead Dog. Pay." But I think more highly of dogs, even those little yippie-yappie celebrity fashion accessory ones.

And, I think more highly of you and your hard earned money.

On to my expired canine companion ...



Kiner (rhymes with "finer," "diner" and "occasional pain in my behiner") was born on the wrong side of Fort Worth. If the breeder had, say, tripped over one of the rusty appliances on her front lawn and failed to flag us down, we would have driven on.

Kiner was my first dog, a 30th birthday present from My Love. He came with mange and a rashy crotch that required periodic shampooing and ointment for his first six years of life. Yes, he was every boy's dream.

thing 1 kiner panting
As a pup, he once ate the liner out of a women's bathing suit. What woman ... that's best left unsaid. This impromptu snack caused much diarrhea and puking, followed by surgery, followed by more diarrhea and puking.

Best prep for fatherhood ever.

Still, Kiner always loved going to the vet. He once pulled me across six lanes of traffic just so the docs and technicians would give him a biscuit and a good scratch in his sweet spot (you know, the one that makes a hind leg go crazy). I eventually had to carry his 75 pounds of fur and tongue out of the place because they wanted to close up and spend the High Holy Days with their families.

When his tail got a-whippin' with delight, it carried more force than a L.A. policeman's billy club. He regularly knocked over drinks, toys and small children who quickly developed the "Kiner flinch" to protect their little genitals and faces.

kiner catches frisbee
Kiner hated thunder and loud trucks. He'd hide under the bed every Thursday, all day, in fear of the trash and recycling men driving around our neighborhood. Wouldn't even take a pee break.

He never wanted to be outside unless you went with him. At least, until he developed lymphoma at age 7. That winter, he'd go outside and lay in the snow around the Things' swing set. The cold numbed the pain.

Kiner had three remissions over seven months. He made it to Christmas. He made it to New Year's. He made it to his 8th birthday. But, in late March 2006, he stopped doing what he loved most -- eating. Even my special homemade high-fat, low-carb, anti-cancer meals (mmm, liver and fat back) didn't appeal to him any more. He'd just lay on my office couch all day, looking sad and exhausted.

We both knew it was time.

lab body asleep on couchThe day we put him down was the worst of my life. I had lost three grandparents and my two best friends already in my life, put I didn't have to give the order for their deaths and watch it happen. (I wasn't even that sad the day Thing 1 was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis because I didn't understand the disease enough at the time to know how bad it could be. I was just relieved we finally knew what was wrong with her after two months of stumbling in the dark.)

When Kiner's final Friday morning ended, the medicine entered his veins and forced his weak brown eyes closed. I hugged him and cried and told him he was a good dog.

"No," our vet said, "he was a great dog."

That was two years ago.

kiner last days
Since, Kiner has been in powdered form, sitting in a flower print tin on the top bookshelf in our family room. (He was an indoor dog, so it's not like he's missing the trees.)

But My Love has always been a little creeped out by his gray, dehydrated presence. It's not like his spirit comes whooshing out to snatch the tortilla chips right before she put them in her mouth like the live version used to do, though.

So stay tuned for the next installment in which I actually leave the house to bring Kiner, or part of him, back to his homeland of, gulp, ... Texas.

27 comments:

  1. We had to have our little Jack Russell/Border Terrier mix, Suzy, put down about a year ago, and it sucked. I'm glad I was there with her, but man my heart hurt for weeks.

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  2. Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm really enjoying yours. I think our daughters would have fun together. They could look at the American Girl catalog all day. I'm so sorry to hear about her condition.

    I'll be back!

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  3. Oh that was wonderful!

    When I had my dog put down (17 years old) he growled until his cloudy eyes closed.

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  4. You took such good care of Kiner and loved him through it all. So sorry for your loss -- no matter how long it's been since you lost him.

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  5. Oh Kevin.

    I've been there, done that too many times in this lifetime already, and as you well know the pain becomes less fresh but never goes away.

    It's one thing when a dog gets to a ripe old 13 or 14. But losing a dog at a young age... we faced the difficult decision with our dalmatian a year ago, when his kidneys went into complete failure at age 9. We thought we had so much more time.

    His best friend, a ginormous 12 year old black lab, remains on this earth (for how much longer, I don't know), now forever pestered by a very young

    uhhhh

    (still having a hard time bringing myself to admitting this)

    labradoodle.

    (But since she's a rescue, I feel somewhat justified in explaining her as a mutt.)

    I know you will receive countless replies full of we-lost-our-dog-too pain. Chalk mine up as one, and thanks for writing the hard stuff.

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  6. I love dogs and always have. Can't remember ever having less than two. They are the best. I have only had to put down one and then had one died very suddenly at about a year old...but the rest lived long happy lives.

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  7. I'm sorry to hear about your dog.

    We have a white shephard who was very ill the beginning of this year and we thought we were going to have to put him down - and he was only 3! We found out though that he has Lyme and with that an auto-immune deficiency. It was a rough time - but now he's happy as ever. (Except the time he insisted on eating all of the baby's things and having emergency surgery for a blocked intesine.)

    Hope the new doggie helps to fill that void.

    P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  8. This made me cry.
    And I am cat person.

    Great tribute. Da Kine

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  9. Awwwww. This made me sniffle too. You really captured Kiner's personality and it was fun to read about him. It sounds like he had a great life with you.

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  10. That was really sweet...now you've made me crave a dog. And reminded me to keep my bathing suits on a high shelf.

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  11. We used to have labs. They are great dogs.

    Then we downsized. To a 3 lb Yorkie.

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  12. Hmmm...know your thought and feelings well....with both cats and Dogs. I am currently nursing my 18 year old flame point, but I know it is a matter of time....
    Thanks for your rememberance...He was a great Dog.

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  13. Crying tears for all the dogs I've lost. For dogs I don't even know. You did me in on this post. The first tear started with "Dead Dog. Pay." That was perfection, and so was this post!

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  14. I had to take a break from reading this post because my vision mysteriously got blurry!
    I had two dogs I lost to cancer and one who was taken from backyard. :o(

    I'm a woman who is with BogHer so would that make me a gigolette? It's too close to the word giggle and jiggle but I guess that would describe me...

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  15. That was lovely - he looks like an awesome dog. Bad you for making me cry this morning.

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  16. I'm sorry about this, I've been there. It's great that you've got some healthy perspective, though, and a plan you feel good about.

    He sounds and looks like a good one for sure, crotch rash and all.

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  17. 30? you came kind of late to the dog party to be such a lover. personally, i think that kind of love can only be instilled if you grow up with dogs, which i obviously didn't. as much as i've tried, i just can't get past the slobbering, and the jumping and the scratching. or the crotch sniffing - that's just plain annoying (unless i've specifically extended an invitation).

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  18. I came late to the dog lover party, too, in my thirties, with three troublesome kids and a decaying marriage to boot. Yet I cried harder when I had to have our 5 year old retriever mix euthanized (sudden, catastrophic kidney failure)than I did when my ex and I separated.

    The female vet said that's because my ex is just a man (sorry, Kevin, no insult intended to you).

    I understood her point. Dogs love you unconditionally and don't say stupid things to you.

    You must write a book, Kevin. As I wrote you privately, I felt ripped off when I finally was able to find "Marley and Me" in the Harry Bennett branch library. It was kinda lightweight and not as well-written as your blog. Reminded me of Bob Greene's "Little Merry Sunshine," his observations on the first year of his daughter's life.

    I (heart) yellow labs but what is it with the strange stuff they eat?

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  19. I truly love your blog.

    Sorry about your dog..I know how hard it is to go through that. The dog that I housebroke at age 12 and taught all kinds of tricks had to be put to sleep about 6 years ago and that was rough. He'd had cancer for years, would have siezures, and had surgery to remove part of a tumor that would grow out of his eye. It was just finally too much for him so my parents made the decision. I took the day off of work to go with my parents and was going to go into the room when they did it, because I didn't want him to be alone. But, alas, sissy chick that I am, I broke down uncontrollably in the waiting room and sobbed until I couldn't even see. My dad helped me out the front door.
    And that dog is still sitting in my moms cabinet, because my brother won't let her touch them. you know.. my brother that is how many thousands of miles away in Iraq right now? I keep telling her that I'll just take them with me one day and do something nice(I think we should take them to where we spread my grandfathers ashes) with them and she refuses, because she knows my brother would be mad.

    Our dog now is 11 and has recently become incontinent(that's always lovely with so many children running around my house), she is going blind due to the keratitis she has, and she is deathly afraid of loud noises(4th of July has her hiding in any small space she can fit into). I get knots in my stomach just thinking about something happening to her, but I know she's not completely healthy and for a German Shepherd she's already passed the average age that they live to.

    So, um, I'm not sure what my point was in all that rambling... just.. hugs and sorry.

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  20. People don't realize that pets can be just pets or they can be a deeply loved FRIEND whose personality and returned love impact every day of your life.

    I'm sorry you no longer have Kiner, but it sure looks like that dog never doubted his place in the world.

    BTW, you might look smashing in tight pants and stilettos...how can we judge if you never post a picture? Just a thought.

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  21. Aww. We had "The Best Dog Ever." Mickey was the whole neighborhood's dog. Alas, he was killed by a car about a year ago. We got another one, but he was no comparison, so I gave him to my mom.

    Anyway, nice post, and thanks for sharing the pic of your tighty-whities.

    http://notesfromthesleepdeprived.blogspot.com

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  22. Finally got around to reading the Stamford Times. Dude? You're almost famous!

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  23. Wow - you go w/o an Internet for two days and THIS is what happens. Thanks for all the comments and good thoughts. I should point out that My Love did take the day off to be there for Kiner's end. That's love and sacrifice.

    To all my new visitors: Welcome. The magic fridge (http://blogonkevin.blogspot.com/2008/07/padded-cell-of-uncoolness.html) always has a cold one for you. My Love might even toss in a nice chardonnay now and then.

    3un2 - You're welcome. AG will be the death (or bankruptcy) of me.

    gottlieb - Our vet warned us that might happen but it didn't. Not sure how I would have handled that.

    Patty - we looked at a labradoodle. Cool if it favors the Lab side, but quite freaky if it is more doodle. The bred hasn't be perfected. How do you like him/her?

    Marcy - I won't hold you cattiness against you.

    WhiteM - I need to Google flame point. Is it like a blue healer?

    Bee - You are so on the money ;-)

    Leigh - I always wanted a dog but my mom was not a fan. Getting one was a condition of us moving to Texas along with a pool and satellite TV. And there are so many places to take that crotch sniffing comment ...

    Ellen - I read Little Merry Sunshine when Thing 1 was born. It was the first time I felt weird about Bob Greene. Then that whole sleeping with his teenage column subject broke ...

    HMC - Yeah -- never mess with a man's dog -- dead or alive -- especially when said man it trained in handling automatic weaponry. Thanks for the love.

    Annisa - We'll save that image for a lonely winter night.

    Wendy - How did you recognize my tighty whiteys? You peaking? I out of that phase now.

    Patty - It's official. I'm the goofiest blogger in our fair city. Read on at http://www.thestamfordtimes.com/stamford_templates/stamford_story/292168107390698.php.

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  24. That was a great post. Both sweet and sad and funny, especially with the part about the Kiner flinch. My wife's aunt has an Irish setter that's like that. She hates it, but I know that it's just being a dog, that's all.

    Thanks for the comment over on my blog. I responded there too. Trying to get back to responding. And dude, I'm so voting for you over at Humor-Blogs -- even though this wasn't all funny, but sort of sad too. I'll still give you the LOL face anyway (BTW, that's definitely not the O face ;)

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  25. Oh my what have I done now - crying already and my lab (who looks amazing like Kiner) is only 9. But having lost one 13 years ago and vowing never ever ever to set myself up for that pain again, well, clearly I didn't listen to myself when we broke down and got another. Great story, but now I have to go find some tissues....

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  26. I came upon your blog through a comment you made on Dorky Dad. Noticing that you mentioned "Texas", naturally I was curious as to your location.

    We had a similar experience with our Max. But I had never thought about posting about him until I read your heart-warming post of Kiner.

    Hence, my current post of Max. I started looking for photos and, of course, I couldn't put my hands on them. The only one I had was the framed one that sits by his urn.

    My post is not as well written as yours, but it is written with memories of love. I hope you don't mind, but I left a link to your post of Kiner.

    Loved it and it brought back so many good memories. Thanks.

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  27. unfinished, girl next - thanks. you're ver kind.

    in_spired: I read your post. you did just fine.

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