June 10, 2021
My dog died today.
I took him to the vet yesterday for what I thought was an ongoing sensitive-stomach issue, but turned out to be a ruptured mass in his small intestine. The cancer had already spread to his nearby lymph nodes and liver, and he was septic. They gave him 12-hours.
This wasn’t how our story together was supposed to end.
There was going to be a final, epic battle somewhere deep in the wilderness. We’d be out hiking towards a remote mountain peak, like we’ve been doing for the past 10+ years, and would be ambushed by a rabid mountain lion. Or Sasquatch. Or maybe both. Ivan would bare his teeth. I’d look for a sharp stick. Then he’d grab the keys and run back to the car. We’d talked about this. He promised he’d be the one to live on and to tell our tale.
Instead, he left me behind in my own home. Safe. And completely gutted.
The rest of my family believed Ivan would live well into his 140s. Then, after consulting with them first, he’d pick a time when everyone could celebrate his final day on earth by treating him to all-you-can eat ice-cream and peanut butter cookies and McDonald’s hamburgers. But by the time I brought him home from the vet, he was too sick to eat or even drink water.
So we rewrote our ending.
We welcomed Ivan into our front room on Christmas day, 2010. He was, according to his original foster mom, a “one-man party.” And she was right. Ivan gave us a decade of laughter and unconditional love, and he fundamentally changed our family for the better. So, with the help of an incredibly compassionate in-home vet, we completed the circle by saying goodbye to him, for now, in that same room. All of us. Together. His family. His pack.
Ivan “The Terrible” Ard. You are going to be terribly missed.