|Baron Sasha Morrow|
2005 - 2017
As if January 20th didn't come with enough sadness and dread, it became even worse when I took my dog to the vet and got the worse news possible. I was told I should put him down. It was completely unexpected. I thought his symptoms were arthritic and I would be told that he'd need medication and special concessions for the rest of his life. I had already begun thinking about ways to make my home and car more accommodating for this condition. Instead, I was told that he had a massive tumor. The vet showed me the X-ray and explained where organs should have been that were being crushed by the tumor - including his heart and lungs. Her fear was that it would rupture and he would bleed out, which could happen at any moment. He wasn't in pain, but he wasn't comfortable, either. He would soon no longer be able to eat or digest food. Walking had already become difficult, as had his breathing. The tumor made him anemic, too so he was incredibly weak and kept losing his balance. He had already fallen several times, prompting the vet appointment.
People who have never loved a dog might say that Baron was just a dog, a pet that was never meant to live several decades. To me, he was family. He was my fur baby, my papito lindo, my handsome boy. He was gentle and sweet. We had so many adventures together, from the moment I saw his photo on PetFinder.com. He was smart and energetic, and a loyal running buddy. He was also a pain in the ass who gave me gray hairs by his love of running away, chewing himself doggie doors when left alone, trembling and crying during storms, and had a flatulence problem that could wake you from a deep sleep.
A few weeks ago I blogged about his reaction to losing Warren and what it taught me. By all accounts, Baron was a member of the family. My nieces and nephews played with him, tortured him and loved him like kids do. He was always tender and patient with them even when they mistook him for a horse or a pillow. When he had his fill of little people he would sigh and stand at the door, ready to take refuge outside. There was never any growling or showing of teeth.
What I loved about Baron was his easygoing nature. He could go with the flow better than any human. From crowds to just the two of us, his demeanor was steady, with bouts of joy and excitement at the sound of his leash. He should have been a therapy dog because he helped several people get over their fear of dogs or preconceived notions of what dog ownership was like. From children to adults, I constantly heard, "I don't like dogs, but I like Baron," "I am afraid of dogs, but I feel fine around Baron." I loved hearing that. It was fitting considering that he had also been Warren's dog.
As I held Baron his last few moments, I released him to Warren. I told him to run to his two-legged daddy and nuzzle him and cuddle him for me. I sent him with messages of love and assured him that he had been a good boy. I told him he would never again face closed doors, lonely moments away from his humans, or scary thunderstorms. He was going to frolic and run free. He would soon see his aunt Charity, and Warren would introduce him to his sister, Mica, the first dog Warren and I rescued shortly after we got married.
When the moment came for the final injection that would stop his heart, I thought of how proud Warren would be of him. When the vet said he was gone, I pictured Baron running into Warren's arms and Warren crouched down with a huge smile, welcoming his fur baby. I saw him running around his alpha human as he had done so many times when Warren walked in the door, with a wagging tail and goofy look that only those of us who loved him could recognize as a smile.
While that image was beautiful and comforting, I was envious, too. I wanted to share in that moment. I wanted to run into Warren's arms and cry my heart out. The familiar feeling of not knowing what is happening to a loved one and then getting the most terrible news you can imagine was ripping me open from the inside. I was filled with dread at walking away from another hospital room and leaving behind a piece of my heart. I did not want to walk into my house knowing that I was walking in there alone to face pain and grief once more. Baron was gone yet I couldn't leave that room. I could not find a way to stop holding him while he was still warm. That's exactly how it went down almost five years ago in an ER room. I held on to Warren, hugged him tight and felt him near me for the last time. I wanted to hold Baron until he became cool to the touch and stiff so I could know with all my being that he was truly gone. I couldn't go while he looked like he was in a peaceful sleep and might snore at any moment. Also, I couldn't stop telling him I loved him, just as I had told Warren over and over again while my dad pulled me away, telling me it was time to let go.
This time I was allowed all the time I needed to unwrap myself from my fur baby and wrap him in a white blanket. His paws were crossed and his eyes closed looking handsome and peaceful. Everyone told me that I had done the right thing by not letting him suffer. His quality of life was only going to deteriorate and I spared him from going through that. They were right and I knew that I wouldn't be able to face him if I had selfishly allowed him to live with a tumor that was slowly killing him because I wasn't ready to lose him. I also knew that my decision meant facing pain and loss that I didn't want to deal with again. There would be no more hearing Baron's paws on the hardwood floors, just as there was no more hearing Warren's voice. I would never again be greeted by Baron at the door, just as I would never start my day at Warren's side. Another piece of my life with Warren was gone. Baron had experienced Warren's love in a way few outside of our home got to see. My family had gotten smaller once again. I wasn't ready for that. But then again, who is? I would never be ready for that.
The silver lining in the day was that I felt incredibly loved. Upon hearing the news of what I had to do, I messaged my friends and family. Throughout the day they came to say their goodbyes to Baron and give him love and attention. While he was weak and still, he basked in it and I could tell he loved it. When I got to the vet's office for the final goodbye, my friends had filled the waiting room and stood by me for every minute of Baron's last moments. As I lay on the blanket wrapped around Baron I was thankful that I wasn't alone. My mom sat across from me and friends who are like family formed a circle of love around us. That is just as much a part of my memory of that event as the pain and sadness. It does not escape me how incredibly lucky and blessed I am to have this kind of support in my life. That is what has sustained me since losing Warren. It gives me the hope I need to remember that I may have lost Baron and Warren's earthly love, but they left me with a lot of love to help me through and show me that life doesn't just go on, it can shine beauty amidst darkness. Warren taught me that lesson and Baron reinforced it, and I am beyond grateful to have gotten this final gift from them.