I have finally found the courage to look at the photos I took on Louis' last day on earth. The day my dog died was the saddest day of my life, to this day. I allow myself just a little bit of time each day to cry for him. I read this sappy poem that the vet gave me in a card called, "Over the Rainbow Bridge" often and sob, while clenching Louis' paw print mold in my hands. I cry thinking about how I used to tug on his ears, and how they were so soft. I think about cuddling with this warm, smushy dog. I think about how his puppy breath went from just that, to smelling like the penguin house at the Detroit Zoo. I didn't mind though. Not once did I want Louis away from me. From the day I saw him, to the day I said goodbye forever - I never wanted him to go away. I have never owned a dog prior to owning Louis. He was my first puppy and I got him when I was 18 years old. My misinformed, naive, 18 year old self purchased him from Oakland Mall. Yes. The crummy pet store, inside of the crummy mall. I couldn't help it though. I worked there and saw him every day. I held him in my arms and let him chew on my sweatshirt strings. He had so much extra skin. Just a wrinkly, skinny baby. I never wanted to let him go.
The day I had to put him to sleep forever, was a day I never wanted to come. I had been putting it off for so long, because I knew it meant the end. The end of a long, happy relationship. The stress of his cancer, money, and him crying in his crate would soon be a thing of the past. His body was here. It was with me, and that is all that mattered. I knew it was time, I just needed someone to tell me that there was nothing else I could do. Seven short years I had with Louis. Seven. Short. Years. The things Louis did for my life will never be forgotten. He showed me a great friendship between girl and dog. We experienced the beaches of North Carolina. He loved to swim, but hated that ocean. I remember the salt making his fur so soft. He was happy. He thrived on life. He loved other animals of all kinds. He loved to run, fetch, play. The perfect dog.
I wanted to make sure we didn't hold anything back on Louis' last day. I woke up, sad. I put him in the car, sad. I took pictures of him, and his last smiles, his last car ride, and finally, his last trip to the park. We took him to a beautiful park. We bought him a crave case from White Castle (which is everything he probably ever wanted). We gave 10 of his burgers to a homeless man on Woodward, and took the rest with us. We thought it would be funny to have pictures with Louis and this giant box of burgers. I never thought the day would come where Louis would be full. He made it through 6 burgers until he decided that he was finished. I tried not to think about the fact that in an hour, he would be gone. These moments would be a thing of the past, and Louis, would just be a piece of my life that had come and gone. We sat at a picnic table where Louis watched the squirrels that he once chased at full speed. I hugged him a million times, though I could have hugged him a million more. I tried to smell him and just remember all of the things that made Louis, Louis. I smushed his face up like I always did and kissed his forehead. It was my favorite spot to smooch. He was always such a good boy and would tolerate me mushing him up all of the time. He loved me so much, but I think I loved him more. He always wanted to be beside me and I was never mad about it. He brought a lot of light into my life that can never be brought back.
At the vet, I instantly started crying uncontrollably. It was all too real now. We had been to the vet so many times trying to figure out Louis' tumor, that to him, this was probably just another trip. They put us right into a room. Louis chose to lay on the seat instead of the medical table. I sat on the floor and put my arm under his head as I kissed him and pet him, trying to keep him comfortable. The doctor explained what would happen, which didn't make it any easier. It was all cloudy. They gave him a shot, which I thought would put him all the way under, into a sleep, but it just made him "relaxed" and "groggy". His eyes were still opened. I only had about ten minutes with him until the doctor and nurse finally came in and said it was time. They gave him the final shot and Louis gave a quick gasp. It scared me and made me feel sad. Just like that, the doctor checked his pulse and said the words I never wanted to have to hear. "He's gone". He was. He was gone forever. They put his paw print into a piece of clay and gave me instructions on how to bake my now dead dog's footprint, so I can have some kind of positive remembrance, aside from memories. I slowly pulled my arm out from under his lifeless face. His eyes wouldn't close all of the way. I had to close them for him with my hand. I gave him one last kiss and squeezed his empty collar and leash in my hands. I felt like I was walking the walk of shame in front of the people in the lobby. I knew they felt sad for me. I heard a couple of them express remorse. I just felt empty.
Now in my room, next to my bed sits a floral tin. Inside this tin are the ashes of Louis. The plastic bag of ashes is heartbreaking. It is a lot smaller that I ever expected, and it doesn't resemble anything that my dog once did. Bone fragments and grey ash are all that I have. His teal collar is also inside there, and I will never put it on another dog. We also have a small clipping of Lou's hair, the card from the vet, and a canine cancer bracelet that one of the organizations had given to us when trying to help with Louis' funding. The last piece of Louis in this tin is his ceramic paw print that I hold so tight and cry with. I used to hold Louis' paws. They smelled like Fritos. I will never forget my sweet boy and his Frito paws.