Dog’s Eye View: Time to say ‘goodbye’
August 20, 2015
My husband Ron and I had our last day with Beretta, our 14-year-old whippet. It was several weeks ago. My husband had been nursing Beretta along through waning health for a couple of years. Finally, Beretta stopped eating and could not easily walk or stand. It was time.
We took him to his favorite spot at the park and let him look around. We took him to the Yampa River, where he tottered into the ankle deep water, lapped it and just stood for a bit. He loved both of these places. He used to run like a gazelle there. He could catch a Frisbee by running faster and leaping higher than any dog I knew. He would trot along with Ron on bird-watching walks. And yes, he slept under the covers.
I remember so well driving to New Mexico to pick him up as a puppy. He was a gift from a friend who raised whippets. She had his father and mother and some of his other relatives. Whippets are such nice dogs, and her pack got along really well. Beretta was 10 weeks old. His little nose was stubby and short, not long and elegant as it became as an adult. The two of us made the road trip home and bonded.
When I brought him into the house, I held him in my arms. We looked at the kennels of retired racing Siberian huskies through a kitchen window. He shivered. In time, he was able to mingle with these quieter dogs and grew to be a confident young male.
He went to work at our veterinary clinic every day. Even though he had this easy practice of riding in the car, he never was a great traveler. He panted and whined. It always took him a while to settle down and sleep.
Not all of our memories are stellar. One very cold winter night, my husband and I got home from the clinic quite late. I was carrying groceries and a bottle of bleach and had Beretta on a leash, because there had been a couple of deer in the trees by the house. We’d almost gotten to the top of the porch stairs when his legs became tangled in his leash, and he fell backwards onto me. Well, it wasn't pretty. We both fell to the bottom of the stairs onto the hard-packed snow. I had a broken ankle and a torn ligament in my knee. Beretta was fine. I held on to the bottle of bleach all the way down. He trotted over to get Ron, who was chopping wood for the stove, for help. It was one of those "Lassie" moments.
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"What is it Beretta? Is someone injured?"
Beretta was famous at Loudy Simpson Park in Craig, where we have a Frisbee golf course. Sometimes, Beretta would, in a moment of abandon, race after a competitors' Frisbee and catch it. On one occasion, my husband heard one of the players yell to his friend, "Grab your discs, it's Beretta!"
One of his more spectacular moments involved our friend, who worked for the Division of Wildlife (remember that point). I was standing in our corral with our friend and his wife. I wasn't really watching Beretta when movement caught my eye. Yep, it was Beretta, running 100 miles an hour (so to speak) right behind an antelope. They had already crossed the county road in front of the house.
All I could think at that moment was that his "come here" training had better pay off. I gave it my all, and so did Beretta. He changed directions so fast he kicked up dirt like a quarter horse. And as our friend's wife noted, "He ran back faster than he ran out!" I cheered him on all the way back and ran with him right into the house. I grabbed a handful of lunchmeat out of the refrigerator for a huge jackpot treat.
Whew! What a good boy!
The hardest times for us since Beretta has been gone are the times we turn around to help him, and he's not there, or we think it's time to feed two dogs, and there's only one. When I wake up, I think of him first, because he always had to get outside to potty immediately. Getting ready for a walk now only involves one dog, Stuart. We miss Beretta in so many ways. The memory of caretaking in his senior years is a big part of missing him. It was our routine.
Goodbye Beretta, our beautiful, sleek and loving boy. Your leash still hangs on the wall, and your collar is in a special drawer.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog Trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 25 years of experience. She can be reached at totalteamworktraining.com