The Last Walk
“You never realise the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
I remember when we first brought him home. He was so stubborn like you wouldn’t believe. We took him on his first walk and he didn’t want to move, so he just lay down in the middle of the pavement and refused to budge. Even when we tried to get him to move by pulling on his leash, he held on to the ground for dear life and clawed at it till his nails bled.
In these last 12.5 years, we learnt a lot more about Troy.
We found out just how much he loved apples and suntanning. How he snored and made cute little noises in his sleep. How he loved pushing my brother’s bedroom door open with his muzzle to lie down on my uncle’s bed (without permission). How he was so afraid of thunder and how he would run for cover the second he heard someone cutting medicine blister packs into smaller pieces (basically the sound of the metal blister pack crinkling).
All these little things made him all the more endearing.
Usually my uncle is the one who brings the dogs out for their walks. But that day he asked me to go along with him, reason being Troy was walking too slowly to keep up with Mambo (his son & our other dog). I saw how ill Troy was getting and I hadn’t taken him out for his walk in a very long while, so I went along too. I’m so lucky I did, as it turns out it was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
We brought him out for his evening walk. Part of his everyday routine.
His walk started out ordinarily enough — chewing his leash before he leaves the house, check. A little bit of whining to get out of the house, check. Peeing on the bark of the first tree in sight, check. However, it soon became apparent that he was tiring very quickly. Barely a few minutes into the walk and he was already struggling to keep up with Mambo. At the halfway mark my uncle decided Troy was too exhausted to carry on. He didn’t want to walk, he just stood there and breathed heavily.
And so my uncle carried Troy home.
While waiting for the lift I noticed his eyes—they seemed blank; cloudier than usual. I moved my finger towards his eye, and he blinked. I didn’t think much of it, even though his reaction was significantly slower than usual.
I should have paid more attention.
When we reached home he laid down on his side and let my uncle clean his paws. Afterwards he just couldn’t get back up on his feet, so my dad asked me to take him to the vet’s when the clinic opened in the evening.
Everything happened very quickly from this point onwards.
I watched his bloated abdomen move as he worked to inhale and exhale (with great difficulty). His head jerked, then he was unmoving. I held my breath. I nudged my uncle who was standing next to me. He moved again, and I breathed a sigh of relief. False alarm, I thought. I thought wrong. He didn’t move again. He was still for the final time. Numbness prickled my skin when realisation hit me like a truck — he wasn’t going to move again. My heart dropped. My hand hovered above him, but for some reason I didn’t dare touch him. I jerked away, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why I pulled away from the dog I love so so much, and I feel bad about that. Maybe it was shock. Or temporary denial. Maybe I didn’t want to touch him because I was afraid it would confirm what I already knew. Maybe I didn’t want to accept the fact that he was no longer here.
It wasn’t long before the tears followed.
He had just seen the vet the day before (Monday), and he was given a whole bunch of meds because his condition had worsened considerably since his last check-up. He had a relapse, but he was holding on. He was supposed to see the vet again if his condition hadn’t improved by Wednesday (to figure out how to help him, I would assume), and if the medication helped him feel better he was due to see her the following Monday. I knew he wasn’t the epitome of health, but I didn’t expect him to be gone so soon and so quickly. He went from being ill to being on the brink of death in the blink of an eye. I thought the medicine would help control his condition, if not rectify it. I thought he was going to be okay. But I was wrong.
I drove him to the vet’s when they opened in the evening about an hour later, after everyone at home had seen him for the last time. My mum and uncle went in with him first while I parked the car. I walked down the now-familiar hallway at this point to find him laid out on the table in the offensively bright white room. We spent a moment in there with him, just seeing him in the flesh one last time before they cremated him. That time in that room did absolutely nothing for me. I’d just spent the last hour at home looking at his unmoving body, trying to process what just happened. And then having to just leave him there after a spending a moment in that room with him? This couldn’t be it. It didn’t feel right, leaving without him. But we had to. He was gone.
Then came the sadness and grief. Deep down I knew that he’d be gone someday. I just never imagined that day would come so soon. I cried looking through his photos and videos. I couldn’t bear to speak of him, my heart hurt too much. I spent the night with a box of tissues and dustbin by my side.
Ultimately there was nothing else we could’ve done. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. I’m just glad to have been there for his last walk and last moments. At least he’s no longer suffering, and hopefully at peace and having loads of fun (and lots of apples) on the rainbow bridge with all the other beloved doggos. We’ll always love you and miss you, my dearest baobei.
R.I.P. Troy, our beloved Piano Man
1 January 2005 – 11 July 2017
Home doesn’t feel like home without you here.