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Goodbye, Ocho

Twelve years and some change ago, my wife and I moved into our house. She had said to my stepson that we would get a dog when we were no longer living that apartment life and true to her word about a month in driving along the street we saw some puppies for sale and stopped by to check them out.

Soon enough, we were headed home with a half rottweiler, half Australian shepherd mix. My wife said we should name him something Spanish. My stepson said let’s call him Ocho.

At the time I thought that maybe a dog would be in my future, I had grown up with dogs and liked them but I certainly didn’t want one then. I have heard many stories of people that have taken a dog in and when they get tired of them, give the dog back, find another home for it or put it down. To me, that seemed wrong on many levels.

While I didn’t really care to have a dog, I took care of him and we had fun. Having a dog always felt like a burden to me and Ocho was more high maintenence than most.

My wife thought Ocho was lonely and a year later we had another dog, Midori.

At first, I didn’t like Midori at all, but eventually, I really warmed up to her.

Ocho and Midori weren’t spayed or neutered and eventually had puppies.

Everyone that saw Ocho commented on how he was such a good looking dog. We would try to pawn Ocho off on anyone that took an interest but we never had any takers. Ocho was pretty annoying. Even Midori was annoyed by him and would mess with him, which was funny for all of us.

Years later Midori ran away and we were left with only Ocho. While I really missed Midori we were glad she was gone. After having puppies she would lick herself constantly and leave puddles wherever she laid.

I still took care of Ocho, walked with him, and fed him but was always a little aggravated by him. I would wake up early on weekdays and feed him before I would go to work, so upon waking on a weekend he would notice and make a lot of noise until I got out of bed. There was no way to sleep in.

Earlier this year, Ocho started having health problems. He found it hard to get up and would whine whenever he went to the restroom. Sometimes he would get paralyzed and once stayed in our front yard overnight and could not move his lower half.

Every night he would whine and one of us would have to let him out. During the day he would pace nervously and want to go outside and then as soon as the door was closed want to come back in.

The vet said his bloodwork was all good and didn’t know what his problems were. He had a lot of lumps on his body but we were told they were all benign.

I wanted to put him down but my wife wanted to try natural solutions to heal him. Upset and tired of taking care of him for years by myself, I told my wife that he was her responsibility.

A few months ago, he had his first seizure. It was horrible to watch. His legs spasmed and he foamed at the mouth. Eventually, he stopped seizing and made a bloodcurdling howling screaming sound that I wouldn’t have thought a dog could make. He would try to get up but couldn’t get his legs to stand. We helped him up and he just wanted to walk.

When he walked into a bush we realized he could not see. Then we noticed he couldn’t hear or feel. He would get frustrated when he couldn’t move forward and needed to be helped.

Ocho bounced around our backyard for about two hours walking back and forth in circles. Slowly he gained his ability to feel, hear and then he got his sight back. Exhausted, he finally came inside and fell asleep. The next day it was like nothing had ever happened.

My wife thought we could still heel him naturally. We didn’t want to turn to medications with crazy side effects. Mostly because he was old for his breed. Far past the life expectancy for a Rottweiler.

Tired of not getting a full night’s sleep, my wife eventually agreed that if he was still waking us up in the middle of the night and whining all the time we would put him down in a few weeks. A few days later he had his second siezure.

The second seizure was the same as the first, including the loss of senses and the desire to walk.

We knew it was time. We decided I would take him to the vet in the morning.

That night after tiring himself out, he came inside and slept. He ended up waking us up whining again. I let him out and he came right back in. Later that night, my wife let him out and he didn’t want to come back in.

That morning I woke up and realized he was outside. He was motionless in a pile of leaves and I assumed he was dead. He managed to look up at me and I realized he was alive. It was freezing cold so I put some blankets on him as he could not get up. My wife and I thought he was going soon.

A few hours later my son came out and Ocho tried to get up. After another hour he was up like nothing had ever happened.

We didn’t want to go through another seizure and were done with the sleepless nights. I made an appointment to go to the vet.

At the last minute, everyone decided to walk with me which I was grateful for.

Due to COVID, we were not allowed to go into the vet and had to wait for them to come to take him. We were told once they took him the doctor would euthanize him quickly.

When the veterinarian came out I started telling her about the seizures and how he was comatose all morning. She told me that they trusted us and that we knew what was best for our dog which I really appreciated.

We said our goodbyes and the vet took him in. Ocho gave us one last look that I will always regret because it spoke to the fact that he trusted us, and didn’t know what was going on. We cut months or maybe a year off his life. It might have been more suffering for him and sleepless nights for us but it is hard to not see life as precious.

Our neighbor who had a love for Ocho had noticed since his first seizure he was not the same. Ocho never wagged his tail anymore. He didn’t recognize our neighbor who he had always loved.

While we had talked it over before, walking back home, my wife and I were balling crying. My son who had cried all the times we had a talk about putting him down over the previous year seemed okay.

It is weird how we hear whining sounds and think Ocho is still there. He would always howl at the sound of sirens and after hearing some sirens I felt myself getting ready to hear the howl that never came.

It was great to sleep through the night but somehow the house is empty without him. Maybe it is just different without him. My wife and I teeter between being grateful and sad even though in the end we feel we did the right thing.

Over the years, there were good times that I will choose to remember. You were a good dog Ocho. We love you.

By Sam Watson

I'm pretty good at Microsoft Excel but a freak in Google Sheets.

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