Our elderly dachshund Guinevere, the matriarch of the clan, has had health problems for the last few years due to the pancreatitis she gave herself by raiding too many garbage cans. In the last few months, her health took a nose dive, and her quality of life deteriorated. She slept most of the day, skipped many of her meals, couldn’t control her hind legs well, had trouble navigating even small stairs, and often seemed confused and dazed. We considered taking her to the vet for that last trip then, but she seemed to bounce back a little. The vet examined her, concluded that she had had some sort of neural event—stroke, maybe—and told us that we were basically down to palliative care for her.
Today was the day we had been dreading for a while. She got up, refused her food, went back to her bed and spent the morning alternating between crying in obvious pain and walking around the house on failing hind legs. It was a heartbreaking sight, and we decided that she had no quality of life left. So I let her take one last nap with me on the bed upstairs while I said good-bye. Then Robin came home from work to put her into the car and take her for that last drive to the vet, to render her dog of almost fifteen years that last service. Guinevere is no longer in pain.
This dog was the most magnificent example of her breed I have ever met. Super-smart, stubborn, combative, yet loving and loyal. She gave birth to seventeen puppies and lived to her last day with three of them, plus one granddog, as the boss of a happy little pack. She raided many trashcans, fought many battles—against other dogs, poultry, small furry critters, and once even a fully-grown raccoon—and never backed down from a fight.
I always said she was too tough and mean to die, but of course I was wrong. The fight against her ailing older body was the one battle she couldn’t win in the end. We will miss her dearly, none more than Robin, who took her home as a little puppy in 1997, and who has been her companion for almost fifteen years. Guinevere vetted me for the position of mate for her human when I met Robin, and she has been a part of my life for ten years, but she was my wife’s dog first and always.
Farewell, Miss Guin, Battle-Bitch, destroyer of trash receptacles, eater of lobster shells, implacable foe of furry wildlife. You’ve had a good and full life, and the house won’t quite be the same without you to guard it.