In Memoriam

This is Scotty.

He is a 14-year-old Newfoundland/Labrador mix and my best friend. He is dying.

My family adopted him thirteen years ago from the humane society. I was a snotty teen at the time and didn’t appreciate him at first, but we bonded quickly. He has been a wonderful pet and companion; intelligent, affectionate, playful, and just disobedient enough to be endearing without becoming annoying. He has always been a lovable goofball, getting himself into compromising positions or situations in his pursuit of food, toys, or simply attention.

Scotty at the cottage, 2012.

Over the last year he has begun to lose the use of his hind legs due to arthritis. His condition has been slowly deteriorating despite multiple and expensive therapies, all of which have managed only to offer him comfort during his decline. He can no longer stand unaided and is only capable of short walks before exhaustion and pain compel him to turn for home, and he occasionally loses strength in one or both hind legs and falls.

Despite a regular diet of painkillers and other prescriptions over the last week he has begun exhibiting signs that he is in constant pain. A trip to the vet today confirmed that his arthritis had become critical and that he had a torn ligament in his left hind knee, likely caused by one of his falls. She has offered to increase his pain medication but will not perform surgery on him at his age – he would not recover.

I have been expecting this since January when he started having difficulties, but hoping with all my heart that he would last long enough to visit the family cottage on the east coast one last time. It has always been his favourite place, the highlight of his year, to go on the long car ride to Nova Scotia, run unleashed through the grassy fields, sprint across the sand, play mountain goat on the rocky bluffs and swim, swim, swim himself to exhaustion in the Atlantic.

This is not to be. The vet has said the stress and physical strain of the two-day journey would severely aggravate his condition, and even if he made it to the cottage, would be unable to stand, let alone walk or run, on the beach, nor would he be able to swim. He would not even be able to go down the stairs to the shore, or likely the steep steps to the deck and front door.

She offered to prescribe more powerful pain medication, and I was tempted so strongly I cannot put it into words. But I know that would be selfish, and I would only be prolonging his suffering because I don’t want to let go. Scotty has given me thirteen years of unconditional, uncompromising love and companionship; I can ask for no more from my loyal, amazing friend.

He is being put down next week.

I love you, Scotty.

Goodbye.