Dog Day Afternoon

Posted By on May 27, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and, as usual, I look toward the bookcase in the living room for Ramona, the basset hound who (no “that” for this girl) has been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping in her bed there. And realized, with a sad jolt, that she’s gone. Karen and I “put Ramona down” on Friday, May 24. I can’t get her out of my mind, though I was ambivalent toward her, particularly during the last two years. She was a high-maintenance girl, let me tell you. But I loved her and miss her. I miss how she used to be.

A pet is part of the family; funny how clichés assume gravity when you live through them. Ramona’s survivors, besides her humans, are Oscar, who must be 15, and Elliott, the baby of the house at a mere, I believe, 4. Oscar and Elliott are cats. Ramona, who Karen brought back as a totally endearing puppy in, she says, 1997, spent the last two years of her largely happy life largely infirm. First, her hind legs began to give her trouble, preventing her from jumping onto the nicely upholstered living room chair where she curled up and dreamt. Then, last fall, she developed a tumor way inside her, necessitating a major operation — which coincided with another one in which she lost her left eye. In the last month, the glaucoma that killed that eye took over her right one, rendering her blind and blundering and, if the human propensity for projection is at all accurate, unhappy. In Ramona’s last two weeks, she slept and slept, ate (with decreasing appetite) and shat and peed, at times in the house. Not a pretty sight, Ramona made everyone sad.

Enough about her debilities. I prefer to recall Ramona (whom I also called Momo, and sometimes Momogrammatica) as a sweet, floppy-eared and incredibly affectionate animal. She was so soft, so warm, so friendly. She loved to bask in the sun, lying in the driveway. Until about a year ago, she also enjoyed a walk down Belvoir to Mayfield and back to the house, a total of about three blocks. She was never an athlete; basset backs prevent that kind of doggy expression and, because these hounds are built so low, the backs, the legs, or both, tend to give out.

To the end, however, her tail retained its energy. “Putting down” a pet like Ramona — or any animal — is difficult. But once Katy and Lylah suggested to Karen that Ramona’s time was over, the decision to euthanize her — Karen’s, fundamentally, for it was she who chose and loved and nurtured and medicated this sweet dog — kicked in. It’s about quality of life, your pet’s and yours.

Came Friday afternoon, when we took Ramona to Green Road Animal Hospital. The vet had to sedate her, stripping her of what’s left of her drive. Then, as Karen and I stroked her and a nurse patted her head, the vet injected her with pentobarbital. Ramona was already on her stomach, thoroughly tranquilized, legs splayed. As that barbiturate hit her heart, she gave loud, deep breaths, then stopped. We cried. And still do, though it’s better for all of us, Ramona included. The quality of life may better, but there’s a hole in this family’s heart.

Ramona 450wide 72dpi


One Response to “Dog Day Afternoon”

  1. Tom lash says:

    Hi Carlo:
    Sorry to see the news about Ramona, who I met once. After losing one of ours last year, I know that pain you described.

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