I've never had to say goodbye to a pet before. Not of old age anyways. Gator came into my life when I met my husband ten years ago. We've never actually known how old Gator really is. He bounced around from different homes throughout his life until he found his forever home with us. From what we've gathered from his previous owners we think he was around 15 to 16 years old, which is incredibly old for a dog his size. I thought he would pass on his own, but after we had got Kylo, I believe that it breathed a little more life into him. Which was amazing because Kylo got to play and snuggle with him for an entire year, and it made Gator more active again.
He was quite the snuggler. I was often fighting for room in the bed because he was snuggled up to my husband. Stretched out as far as he could be. They always say that dogs are very much like their owners and this was very true with Gator. He was my husband's dog, and there were little things that he did that reminded me each day of that. He suffered from anxiety like Hubby and loved to stretch out on the bed. I remember one day a few years ago when I was at work I got a call from a stranger that he had found my dog Nero on the road, he had been struck by a car (he was ok), and I rushed to the scene. When I arrived he was holding Nero in his arms and Gator was in the backseat of a police car. Like a teenager that had gotten busted for vandalizing something and he was waiting for his parents arrive. When I pulled up, he saw me and tucked his ears back and ducked his head down so that I couldn't look at him. He didn't have his collar on so they didn't know that he was also my dog. He had pried open our garage door, and he and Nero were taking a joy run around town. When Nero was hit, he stayed with him. I just laughed about the whole thing because it was as if I have a couple of troublesome boys running amuck.
Gator made the best baby pillow. He was so sweet to both of the girls when we brought them home. Sniffing their faces and giving them sweet kisses. Which is a big deal because Gator never actually kissed anyone. It was a rare occasion, and you knew it was special when he did. I took pictures of both of the girls laying on Gator when they were little. Our very own puppy pillow.
He was so handsome, a pit bull-labrador mix with tan fur and black tips on his ears and nose. As he grew older, his black tips turned white. A true fishing buddy. Well, maybe more of a fish scaring buddy. He loved to jump in the water when hubby would cast his reel. If you said the word fishing, he was at the door waiting for you. During his last trip to the lake, he just laid down in the water to cool off.
We started prepping the girls awhile ago that Gator was getting old and that we would have to say goodbye to him one day but this week it got real when we had to set an actual date. I didn't want to put him to sleep, but his health deteriorated rapidly, and I knew he was in a lot of pain. It became harder to watch him suffer than the thought of saying goodbye. I was being selfish because I didn't want anyone in our family to have to make that decision. As I mentioned before, I've never had to put a pet down. All of my childhood pets passed after I moved away except one that was hit by a car. I wasn't prepared for the hole in my chest that appeared this week. How my heart physically hurts and I can't breathe at times. I wasn't prepared for the slew of questions that my preschooler would have and how to better explain things to her on that level. She is very confused and while I keep repeating the same answers to her questions she hasn't quite grasped the fact that Gator isn't coming home because he has passed away.
His final hour was spent with snuggles and eating bacon. Spoiling him with kisses, even Kylo got in on the kisses; maybe he was just licking bacon grease from his face, but it still helped brightened our day. He will be greatly missed in our family and those lives that he has touched over the past 15 or so years. But I know he will be free of any more pain. I try to picture the relief on his face when he closes his eyes that one last time. Goodbye Gator, we love and will miss you so much.