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I've never spent much time on this board... but I've long known that it exists, and feel the need to express some of my thoughts and feelings and thought this was the most appropriate place.

Yesterday morning we put our beloved Roxy to sleep... my tears are welling as I write this.

Roxy was born about 14 1/2 years ago, and was the only puppy in her entire litter to survive. My wife took her, and nurtured her. The puppies all had some kind of disease and had diarrhea. Roxy was the smallest of the litter, and very weak. My wife, not having the money to take Roxy to the vet, did what she could and fed Roxy Pepto Bismol with a spoon. As I said, none of the other puppies made it, and some had seen the vet many times, but my wife's love and attention seemed to do the trick.

Whether she was born with it or whether it came as part of the disease, we'll never know, but one of Roxy's hind legs was completely stiff. She could bend her paw and move her hip (although x-rays many years later would show a deformity there too), but couldn't move that middle joint in her leg at all.

That never slowed her down though... I met my wife, and Roxy, when Roxy was 3. She was energetic, lively, loved to run and play and dig. In short, her stiff leg never gave her any discomfort or slowed her down.

Because of Roxy's deformity, her good leg slowly began to change position so that her foot was uner the middle of her body (to compensate for the other leg). Over time, this change led to arthritis in her other hip.

Of course, this never slowed Roxy down either. When she was about 10 she started having a little more trouble climbing the stairs to our apartment, so we saw the vet, got some medicine, and Roxy was pretty much as good as new.

I finished grad school about then, and we moved to a house with a nice yard (which Roxy loved). For the next three years Roxy would slow down little by little, but really not any moreso than one would ordinarily expect in a dog Roxy's age. When she turned 13 she still acted very much like a puppy. When we'd walk her in the park and she'd play with other dogs nobody could believe that she was as old as she was.

About a year ago her condition started to catch up with her a little. Every once in a while her back end would 'give out' and she'd fall down. She'd rest for a minute and get back up again, eager to continue doing whatever it was (like going for a walk). She didn't seem to be in any pain or discomfort at all. We changed medicines a few times... and just like people with arthritis, she'd have her good days and her bad days, but still loved to play.

Over the last year it would be on again off again... good days and bad days... but Roxy never seemed to be in any real pain or any real distress - or at least nothing that would last more than a day or two before she'd improve... she got slowly worse over time, the bad days coming more frequently... but she was always active, alert, and never seemed in real distress (at least not very often at all)... until a little over a week ago.

A little over a week ago she got a lot worse. She'd collapse frequently, and couldn't get up on her own the vast majority of the time - so we helped her. She learned that help was only a high-pitched bark away, and seemed very frustrated that her legs didn't work right, but still loved to play. She couldn't run and play anymore... but I'd play with her while she was lying down.

Several days ago she degenerated even further... and a good part of the time she'd lie and pant heavily even when it wasn't warm... a sign that she was in discomfort/distress. At night, she tried crawling under the bed (something she always did whenever she felt really bad, like when the fireworks bothered her around the 4th of July) and basically pace around the house (after we'd helped her up) as if trying to walk away from the discomfort.

She still was very alert, still loved to play (while lying down), would still do the "wiggle worm" routine (when her whole body wagged, not just her tail) whenever one of us walked through the door. She still had some quality of life left, but it was getting worse.

We went to the vet last Saturday. The vet told us her collapsing was due to both her age and condition, and was the result of muscle and nerve degeneration. There wasn't much he could do. There was a new, more powerful arthritis medicine he thought we should try, and we did.

Unfortunately, it didn't help.

My wife took her to the vet again yesterday morning. The vet explained all of the options, but we'd pretty much run out of them. Putting Roxy through the pain and discomfort of surgery at her age was out of the question for us - and the surgery didn't have a great chance of success anyway.

It's always a very hard decision to make... Am I putting her to sleep too soon? Is there a chance she might improve? Even if she does, how long will it last before she gets worse again? Is it good for her to keep getting better and worse and better and worse?

Yes, Roxy still had a little quality of life left... but most of the people I know who put their dogs to sleep do so too late in my view. Hard as it was, it was the right time.

Roxy loved going for rides in the car, but couldn't any more.

She loved to run, and dig in the yard... but couldn't any more.

No... we couldn't wait until Roxy had nothing left... and she was in discomfort/distress most of the time - it had been that way for about a week... we didn't want that week to stretch into a month, or a year.

I miss you so much Roxy...

I miss the "wiggle worm" when I get home.

I miss the fact that you'd open the bathroom door with your nose and check on me.

I miss the way we'd dance together to music.

I miss watching you run in the park.

I miss taking you for walks.

I miss having to watch out when I wheel my chair back when I'm at the computer because you'd curl up behind it wanting to be close to me.

I miss the way your stiff leg would shake and your eyes would glaze over when I scratched you in that special spot.

I still look around the house, wondering where you are... what room you're in.

You were such a good girl... never letting your handicap bother you. You were my wife's baby... and mine.

And you stayed with us until you knew it was time to go.

You see... a little over a week ago my wife and I decided to adopt an infant. We're just beginning the process and it's a long road, but we're so very happy.

You see... the day we finally made the decision what we were going to do... the day our decision became final... was the day Roxy started to get a lot worse in a hurry. It was just about a week and a half ago.

It's as if somehow Roxy knew we wouldn't be needing her anymore.

Wanting to get out of the house for a bit yesterday, my wife and I decided to go to Target again and look at baby stuff. My wife perhaps tearfully said it best...

"Roxy was my first baby, and now we're going to have the next one."

I miss you so much... sleep well my Roxy. Where you are now there is no pain... only digging holes in the sand at the beach, running in the park... and everywhere you look there's another dog or person to sniff and to play with.

It hurts to see you go... but even so, you touched my life for so many years and brought me so much joy... It's sometimes hard to believe now, but I know that eventually grief fades, and all that remains is the joy.

Goodbye Roxy... words cannot describe how much I miss you.


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