As perfect of a dog as one could hope to meet, much less to own, has gone to dog heaven.
Fenton -- who was technically my son's dog -- got very sick in December 2013. We took him to the U of M Vet Hospital and were given a dire diagnosis (cancer) and two options: (1) immediate surgery, with a significant risk that he would die on the operating table because of his weak condition, or (2) immediate euthanasia. After soliciting the opinions of everyone in the family and because the dog was not in obvious pain, my son rejected the options presented and decided that we should take Fenton home and let him pass there.
For a few days at home, Fenton hardly moved or ate, and he was unable to go outside to take care of business so our floor was covered in rugs and absorbing pads. I bought 12 cans of soft cat food to entice him to eat, and my wife noted that I had probably overbought, a sad thought with which I could not disagree.
Then, something remarkable happened. Fenton got his appetite back, and ate 6 of those cans of cat food in a span of minutes. Soon, he was getting up to go outside. It wasn't long before I was headed to the store to buy another 40 pound bag of his regular dry food.
By mid-January, he was strong enough for us to reconsider surgery, and a six pound tumor the size a soccer ball was eventually removed from his spleen. He recovered quickly and, within a couple of weeks, he was back to his old self. But we were warned that the cancer would return eventually and probably suddenly, so we should enjoy every day with him.
Fenton did well for several months until one day in early May when he could not get up. Soon thereafter, he stopped eating. As predicted, the cancer was back with a vengeance. Within a couple of days, after he started showing signs of struggling with respiratory failure, we reluctantly decided that the time had come.
We made arrangements for a vet to come to our house for the procedure. Two hours before the appointed hour, Fenton pulled off a final remarkable feat: He got himself up to go outside. He struggled to the yard on a beautiful sunny day and laid down for the last time. For two hours my wife and son sat with him in the yard, enjoying final moments together.
When the vet arrived, he was very respectful as he went over the paperwork with my son, who bravely provided the signature authorizing the procedure. The procedure was done in our front yard and, when it was over, my son stood at attention while Fenton was loaded in the vet's car. After the vet left, my son had a private moment of silence at Fenton's place of death in the yard. It was all very moving.
All dogs are special in their own way, but Fenton was really special. He was regal, gentle, friendly, loving, and always so calm (unless another dog had the audacity to walk down his street). He is already deeply missed.