Last week, we had to have our very old, very feeble Boxer, Montecito, put to sleep.
He hasn’t been able to walk for more than six months — we’ve carried him pretty much everywhere — and his weight has dropped dramatically, to the point where the once robust body of a Boxer with championship bloodlines was emaciated.
Still, his mind was sharp, and he tried to be old Monte even though his body was failing him.
Old Monte, you seek, was a bit of a naughty dog. He reminded me just how naughty just a few weeks ago, when I was upstairs and heard paper ripping. Since my daughter was still asleep, I knew it had to be Monte, but I couldn’t fathom what he was getting into since there really wasn’t anything around his little area.
Well, he found a brand new bag of sugar on the baker’s rack that he shouldn’t have been able to reach, but he somehow did and then ripped it open and flung it everywhere.
That was pretty much standard fare for old Monte, and while I wasn’t hip on cleaning up dog-slobbered sugar from all over my house, including all over what I deem his grinning face, I couldn’t help but laugh about it.
That was Monte telling me he still had it even if he couldn’t walk.
But that was a blip as his health was declining pretty rapidly. Lew and I knew something needed done — everyone who came to our house told us so — but we just couldn’t make that heart-wrenching decision.
After all, Monte has part of Lewis’ life for 11 years, and he was there when we brought Mallory home from the hospital.
He became that little girl’s protector, and I joked more than once that he tolerated Lew and I only because we gave him a baby. If Mallory was home, Monte was alongside her. Didn’t matter what she was doing, didn’t matter if she was paying attention to him or not — he was nearby.
Once, when she was just a few weeks old, Lew and I left the house to play softball. Only I had to return home rather quickly because when Mallory started crying, Monte wouldn’t let my mother near her — even with the bottle in hand. We’re convinced he assumed she had hurt the baby to make her cry, and even though he knew my mother well, he wasn’t about to let her back near his little girl.
I’m not sure if you could ask for a better dog — even one with a naughty streak — than that for family.
But finally, we had to do something. So on Thursday night, Lew and Mallory fed Monte five cheeseburgers (a favorite that he had trouble eating later in life, but apparently he still loved since he devoured them all), some cookies and even a couple of smidgens of chocolate. They gave him a bath, put his collar on and brushed him until his very gray fur was shining. He was going to be a king on his last night, and they made sure he knew it.
And then Lew dropped off my sobbing daughter at the sitter’s house and carried on with Monte to the vet’s. When I picked my little girl up a bit later, my wonderful sitter had calmed her down and was entertaining her. But we weren’t far down the road when she asked me where her dog was, and I had to answer that he was gone.
“I didn’t expect that, Mommy,” she said. “I thought you’d say something changed.”
She finally fell asleep that night after several hours of tears and silly Monte stories, and the next morning she asked me if I thought Monte was still asleep in Heaven. But she started giggling, and we both agreed: There was no way that crazy dog slept that night — he probably was too busy checking everything out in his new world with his legs that worked again.
Then, in perfect stride, she put a big smile on my face — she definitely knew our dog.
“Do you think Monte is driving God crazy yet?” she asked.