This has been bothering me for a long time, and I'm not sure I should tell it, but I've been holding this in too long... A couple of years ago, shortly after my mother suddenly died, my disabled father (PTSD, hand/nerve injury, bad back, rhuematoid arthritis) and me found ourselves basically homeless, since we were barely making ends meet with my mother's income and my Dad's 800-something a month SSD check. (Veteran's Benefits? Hah! VA told us that even though SS doctors diagnosed him with PTSD, we couldn't prove it was the Vietnam War that caused it. Yeah, I'm sure that coma he went into for several weeks, almost getting killed by a kid with a blade, and watching his buddies die didn't affect him at all. To this day he refuses to step into a VA hospital.) I had been unemployed for about a year, and no one in the boonies where we lived would hire me.
Anyways, a few months later, while we were staying at his brother and sister's place, we notice our dog had worms and was losing a lot weight. I assume he caught the parasite from eating excrement. (Unusual behavior, from him. He never did it before.) He also had a lot of ticks we removed (We lived in the backwoods) Although he didn't react well to the medicine (vomiting) it got rid of most of the worms. A few nights later is when things went sour. He started... hmmm... how to describe it. Like there was incredible pain in his chest. He stretched his neck out and puffed his chest, and made a weird noise. I can't explain it articulately, but it was definitely cries of pain. These attacks came and went. Me and my dad were actually considering giving him up since we could no longer afford to take care of him like he deserved, despite how close he was to us. (Really, we relied on him a lot to comfort us after Mom died...)
One night, it all culminated. He got this look in his eyes, like he didn't know where he was, and started walking back and forth, tripping over things and walking into the table. I think he suddenly went blind. Then the seizures started. They came and went, with only a few moments of rest between. But even then, he couldn't stand up, seemed like only one side of his body worked right. He lost control of his bowels and the pained cries from before turned into cacophony.
You have to understand, his brother lived in the hills surrounding a podunk small town. Even if they did have an emergency animal clinic, and it wasn't 3 AM on a Sunday, they wouldn't do anything because we had no money to give. There was nothing for us to do but to endure. I thought that the seizures would pass, I tried to hold and comfort him, but they didn't. We endured this nightmare for hours. Finally, there was no other alternative. I knew what I had to do. My father couldn't or wouldn't (He was there with us too, suffering alongside us) I balled up some blankets and covered his face. It was over almost immediately. There was one final yelp, then nothing. You have no idea what I felt after the deed had been done, and I can't articulate the horror, the pure horror, I felt. I remember holding it on his head to make sure he was gone. I didn't want him coming back half-dead and suffer further. Not sure I would have been able to handle that. Despite the coldness and rain, I took his remains into the back yard and buried him, taking care to dig deep and wrapped him a plastic bag so he hopefully wouldn't be dug up by the local strays and other animals of the woods.
I know he was just a stupid animal. I know that he doesn't think like we do. Logically, I know that. But even now I'm tortured by the thought that he felt betrayed at the end. I was suppose to protect him, to help him. I can't help thinking that he was calling to me for help, wondering why we weren't doing anything for him. We were very close, as much as a dog and his master could be. He trusted me to protect and look after him, and I rewarded that trust with death. Damn it, if he were a person he could have at least communicated what he wanted.
So I moved on, mostly by not thinking about it, but it keeps coming up, and the grief is intolerable. I dunno why I posted this here, maybe I want my guilt assuaged, to be told I "did the right thing." Maybe I want to know what killed him, to this day I still don't know. Me and Pops guessed heartworm or strokes brought on by something, perhaps the parasites. Here I am, a stocky, shaven head grown man with tears in his eyes. The pain is still that raw. I mean, this doesn't make sense. I didn't react like this when other family members died, or even when my Mom died. Why is this still so intolerably painful? He was just a pet.