It was November of '93 when Jason came home from a hunting trip with his Dad (the only one he ever took) and told me about this dog. He'd never really had a dog before, and I was actually trying to talk him out of it since we didn't have a good place to keep a dog. I don't think he knew me well enough at the time to know what was going to happen, but he told me the owner of the camp was going to kill the dog if we didn't go get him.
The next words out of my mouth were "get in the car."
It was raining, cold and dark when we got to the camp in Coffeeville, AL about an hour's drive from Mobile. We got out of the car and ... no dog. We called for about 5 minutes. No dog. I was just about to give up when this dark brown hound of hell came slinking out of the woods. I looked at it. It looked at me. Jason asked how we were going to get him in the car. I opened the car door, said "load up" and he jumped right in. On the way back, we drove with the windows down even though it was freezing and raining because the dog stank SO BAD.
The first thing we did when we got back to my dorm room was give him a bath. We were amazed that he wasn't brown. Seriously, we both looked at each other in shock when he was clean.
And that was how we got Tiger. He was about 8 months old when we picked him up that night. He had buckshot in his face, ears and chest most likely from a botched attempt to kill him. I always said the buckshot made him super dog.
We put him to sleep yesterday at 3pm. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I knew his arthritic hip was causing him a great deal of pain. The euthanasia itself didn't go as I had planned or hoped. He was sedated, and laid down where I held him. After the first dose of euthanasia was administered, his heart continued to beat and he continued to take in great lung fulls of air. After 3 minutes, a second dose was administered. It still took another minute before he gave up and the vet pronounced him gone.
This will haunt me for the rest of my life. I thought he was ready to go, but I can't say that after what happened. Mom and Jason have been trying to reassure me that it was the right thing to do, and life struggles to live no matter how much pain there is but it makes no difference. I know I made a mistake. I should have waited until he was ready. I rationalized the decision and I can't take it back.
My dog is dead and buried and I wish I could take it back. I know in my head that I'm really raw emotionally and he was in pain and certainly struggled to get around some days. But I also know that he wasn't ready and despite the fact that I never would have been ready that was the absolute worst experience and I never want to repeat it.
As much as I remember him smiling and chasing squirrels and putting my leg to sleep with his huge head I will never wipe the image of him gasping out of my mind. The only good thing I can say is that he was sedated, and didn't feel anything. I felt everything for him.