I walked by your kennel last night. Your old, frail body shivered with every breath you took. The tiniest of things, your white fur thinned throughout; much better than the matted messes we are used to. When I approached, you didn’t flinch; your deafness made quickly apparent. I sat with you and examined your neglected body. Your teeth were rotting out of your face, your nails were growing into your paw pads, and your hind limbs were visibly broken and malformed. You whimpered everywhere I touched. I kissed your head and left to enter the notes for someone to examine you further in the morning.
Now, here I sit, 24 hours later, as I read your fate. My heart sinks heavy as I read what I already knew the night before. The words are almost tangible from the weight of the graveness they held, “Not an adoptions candidate”. This old man had been neglected for far too long, and there was not much we could do to reverse the damage that had been done. The world had failed you; humans had failed you. This would be your last night here on earth, and I knew in my gut that I had a duty to make you as comfortable as possible. I owed this to you, to show you that not all humans were bad. I couldn’t do much, but I’d be damned if I didn’t show you the love you so deserved, here on your last night on this earth.
I made my way through the noisy walkway between kennels, as the hundred dogs in the cages around you yelled for my attention. Later, I would visit them as well, but right now, you would be my sole focus. I approached slowly so not to frighten you, and to no surprise, you laid peacefully asleep on your urine soaked blanket. Your deafness was clearly coming in handy in this ever so loud cement room. From the looks of your full food tray, and your yellow-tinged body, you had lost your appetite and were becoming incontinent. This information only made it evidently clear that we made the most humane choice that your owners couldn’t bare to make themselves. After a quick sniff of the hand for greeting, I scooped you up and held you close as we made our way to where we would spend your last night together.
I had prepared the office I was typing notes out of with about four different beds, water, and a copious amount of treats and food (even though you most likely wouldn’t touch them). We got into the room, and I painfully watched as you sniffed every corner of the room- your hind limbs becoming grossly visible of the damage you have had to endure. I believe your notes read that they were double blown cruciate ligaments; I cringed once again over the pain you felt. You finally made your way to the bed closest to me, a donut shaped, extra cushioned place to lay your head.
When I stop and think of my job, I can easily rattle off technical skills and procedures that I handle every day as a technician, but I often naturally skip over the “little things” like this that are about a million times more difficult that any other thing I do within my job description. These “little things” that tug at your heart strings until they snap. These “little things” that make your brain spin and slow down all at the same time. These “little things” that make your teeth grind in frustration as you mull over the harshness of our human race. These “little things” that make you question why in God’s name you chose this profession, the profession whose purpose is to attempt to reverse the mistakes and harshness of our human race.
Throughout the night, my little friend spent his time intermittently falling fast asleep in the tiniest ball of fur you could ever imagine, and tramping around the room the best he could as I played with him on the floor. His visibility was not the best, and his play spurts were few and far between, but I knew with every reassuring nose kiss he gave me in thanks, that he was as comfortable as he could be on this last night of his.
Tomorrow morning, he would be on the dreaded list, but for tonight, I would do everything in my power to show him that I was his friend, even if it was his very last. What a blessing and a curse, to be a very last friend. It may be a blessing for him, but boy would it be a curse to me as I lay in bed that night, wide awake, as I try to get the visual of his heartbreaking eyes out of my mind.
My night was coming to a close, and so was our time together. As I laid on the floor, one last time, I did what any very last friend would do. I found the few spots that didn’t make you flinch in pain, and scratched until you rolled over to your back in acceptance and pleasure. I relaxed myself so that you couldn’t feel my own anxiety of leaving you for the night, and I saw you visibly relax in return. I let you lay your head in the palm of my hand as I told you that you were a good boy. I told you that I was sorry that people had failed you, but that I hoped that you had the best life you could. I kissed your head once more, and called you by name, the name your owners had given you.
As I walked out the door to the office where my new buddy perfectly rested, I couldn’t help but think how truly honored I was to be this boy’s friend, and it was comforting to know that he may leave this earth homeless, but he certainly was not leaving it without unconditional love from his new, very last friend.