Everything was fine, or so we thought.
Ryder, our black lab-heeler cross, spent the first couple years of his life chained up. My wife rescued him shortly before we met in 2013.
Boston, the other dog she'd had since he was a puppy, became known as hers, while Ryder, for whatever reason, took a liking to me. For whatever reason, I took a liking to him too.
For the breed he was, Ryder was pretty plump. We fed him well. The only health issue he ever had was the week my wife and I met. He sliced his paw on a piece of glass in a park.
Last Thursday (the 13th), I got a text while at work telling me Ryder was throwing up white foam and a little bit of bile. The vet advised us to fast him and bring him in on Saturday morning. My wife slept on the couch upstairs that night to keep an eye on him. I'm certain she didn't sleep that night.
He continued vomiting on Friday, a holiday of course, so we had to find somewhere to see him on an emergency basis, and we did. The wife, not wanting our two-year-old to see Ryder sick, went to the vet with her brother, while the kid and I stayed home.
We thought maybe Ryder had gobbled a piece of garbage and that there may be a blockage. Heck, even the animal version of WebMD told me white foam vomit and bloated stomach likely meant nothing serious. I was optimistic.
An hour after leaving, she called me, sobbing.
She said x-rays showed a large tumour in Ryder's stomach. After getting a second opinion from another vet, she was told the only humane option was to put Ryder down. So that's what she did. She held him until his last breath. That night, it was all she could see when she closed her eyes. I'm not sure I could've done the same.
I know loss, and one thing that’s true is that you usually don't realize until the days and years following, what that loss really means. Nor do you realize just how much that dog was a member of your family.
It hit me fairly quickly though that Ryder's loss wasn't going to affect just my wife, our daughter or I. Who it was going to affect the most was Boston.
Thursday evening, the two boys were lying in the living room and Boston had his head up on Ryder's back. I like to think somehow, Ryder told Boston that was going to be it for him, and they were able to share one final night of camaraderie.
Now, Boston wakes up by himself, eats by himself, goes outside by himself, plays by himself and sleeps by himself. He's miserable and I'm miserable watching him. Unfortunately, he'll have to wait for another day for a new canine friend. But for now, he's got a family in the three of us.
I'll never forget the epic footraces and wrestling matches Boston and Ryder had over thrown balls and other toys. I'll never forget how loving Ryder was with our daughter from the day she was born. Trust me, we were anxious about how the two dogs would react to a baby in the house, but he was as gentle a dog as you'd ever find.
We'll never forget Ryder. You were a good boy.
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