When mobile vet Dr. Lisa Tuzo arrived, after a morning when I dreaded the noise of every car parking on our street, it was clear that our 16-year-old sheltie Beau was in a bad way, immobile on his fleece bed.

He had however been his younger self in his dreams, able-bodied in his imagination until the very end, including the morning of his euthanasia, when his paws twitched in his sleep as he chased seagulls.

Dr. Tuzo explained how my husband’s mantra, “He’s just old,” was what I wanted to hear, even though I felt he was deteriorating markedly and in fact not just old. Sure, old dogs sleep a lot, but heavy heavy sleep indicates the fog of kidney failure and that the pet is in a bad way. Lamont feels that “everything living wants to live,” and would not be inclined to euthanize a pet. I however did not want Beau to suffer seizures, tremors or undue suffering, which is why the information from Dr. Tuzo and another mobile vet about end-stage kidney failure and potential suffering was valuable.

My friend and neighbor Blaire Freed helped quite a bit in those last days. She was present when Dr. Tuzo returned my call and helped me process what I had been told. She had bought the 23rd Psalm for Beau in Hebrew as well as food for me, and provided petting time for Beau. She said she thought it was time to say goodbye.

When Dr. Tuzo arrived at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 7, exactly one year ago, I had prepared by putting Beau on his soft fleece bed on the day bed in the living room, where Dr. Tuzo could administer to him comfortably. I put a plastic sheet on the daybed in case Beau lost control, but he didn’t. I had made sure that he had a slightly smaller breakfast that morning. He looked nice because I had taken him to Doggie Depot six days earlier for a bath. Senior dogs lose interest in grooming, but I wanted him to go out with dignity.

Dr. Tuzo came in and gently stroked Beau, who was clearly very zonked by illness. She said it was definitely time. I showed her his shiny white teeth, which I had brushed daily for years, and his clean coat, bathed in the past week and brushed minutes before.

Pierre, our housemate’s shepherd Sipsey and the cats watched in curiosity, which in Pierre’s case turned to distress. With his teeth, he began ripping up loops out of the living room rug. How he sensed the transition about to occur I don’t know. Guess he picked it up off me.

Dr. Tuzo prepared Beau with a sedative. She took her time over the next hour. Beau relaxed and after a while she added some anesthesia. She gently flicked his left rear paw, and he didn’t react. She said, “I’ll send my mother to say hi to him,” upon Beau’s ascent to Heaven. I was touched and didn’t speak. A few tears fell down my face and landed in his still-white ruff.

The vet finally gave Beau his third shot, and his heart stopped. It was a much better situation than Oliver’s euthanasia, with just two shots and him vomiting, on an exam table at a vet’s office, after a tearful ride with his owners, the year before.

She let me have some time with him and then asked for something to wrap his body in to take to her car. I found a towel and carried Beau out myself.

His little body, thinned from 30 to 20 pounds by long illness, was not cold yet — in fact it was very hot as though he were in a final fever. He was a bit floppy in a way a living creature is not. I laid him in the back of Dr. Tuzo’s vehicle and rearranged the towel to cover him and thanked her. She would return in a week with his ashes.

“You’ll be seeing him in the corners for a few weeks,” the vet predicted correctly. That night the heavens opened with heavy rain like tears. I got up the next day ready for another round of care for an ancient dog, and it was not longer required. It took me a while to realize that Beau was no longer a burden to me and no longer suffered.

Jeannette from MD