My husband, Mark, and I had to make the painful decision on Monday to put our beloved Hell Hound, Hercules, to sleep. It was a decision we agonized over. Our heads know it was the right decision, but our hearts aren’t convinced yet. Therefore, I’m creating a tribute to my buddy in the hope that the heart will finally agree with the head.
Hercules was a Chow/Shepard mix breed and one of the sweetest dogs I’d ever known. Born in 1997, Herc was a part of my life for thirteen years — longer than Mark — and saw me through some of the roughest parts. He was also there for some of the best. Facing the future without him is going to be a challenge. He was more than a dog — he was my buddy.
Hercules was the kind of dog that everyone loved and who loved (almost) everyone he met. I won’t bore you with all the details of mine and Herc’s friendship, and frankly, I don’t want to share those memories. Some things are too personal and still to raw to share.
As for why we made the decision we did, Hercules lost most of the movement in his back legs Sunday night. We’d known he had arthritis in his hips for several years but the nearly complete immobility he displayed Sunday night scared us. We rushed him to the vet’s office Monday morning for tests. X-rays showed advanced deterioration of the joints in his hips as well as a mass on his liver. Blood tests revealed elevated liver enzymes and a few other abnormalities that I can’t even recall now. The vet advised us of the options for treatment, including specialists with poking, prodding, biopsies, and exploratory surgery for the possible liver tumor. Even if we had attempted to treat what could’ve been cancer, it wasn’t going to help the pain he’d feel with each step, if we were even able to get him walking again.
The other option was to let him go. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to consider, but neither Mark nor I could subject Herc to more tests for a “maybe” on the tumor and a “definite yes” on the pain caused by his deteriorated joints. While Mark and I were debating what to do, we could hear Herc whining from the kennel area. That clinched it for us. It was as though he was telling us what we needed to do. Though it was difficult, we agreed to let him go and said goodbye.
Hercules will be cremated and his ashes returned to us. I’ll take him home to Mississippi, back the home that he knew for most of his thirteen years, back to where he was happiest…back to where he can run and play without pain.
But, I fear, Mark and I will carry the pain of his loss for much longer.