Two days ago, on October 15th, 2020, I had to put my dog to sleep. As all pet owners know, this is one of the most painful things you can experience. It's only been two days, but I'm still numb. I keep going outside to where her bed was, almost expecting to see her laying there as she did for so many years. But all I find is empty pavement. Sometimes, I think I hear her whining for attention. But I take my headphones off to hear utter silence. When I walk out to refill my coffee, I half expect to see her there on the floor, perking her head up to see what I'm coming out for. Usually, she wanted some treats. She would look at me until I gave in and fed her a dog biscuit. I still have the dog biscuits.
Her name was Juno, and she was the sweetest girl and best friend you can have. For many years, she was the "fastest dog in the West," as some people would say. She could run across a yard to pursue a thrown ball and be back for another throw in 5 seconds flat. The only time she ever barked was for attention or food. Other than that, she was fully content to lay down near us and relax. She loved playing tug of war, too.
When I was about eight years old, my family piled into our van and began driving to a "surprise" destination. As we got closer, the possible destinations began to reduce. My sister cleverly asked, "are we getting a dog?" The answer was yes, we were. We arrived at the local animal shelter and walked inside. As we made our way to the dog area, I saw my dad and my other sister standing in front of a very excited black dog. She had three toes on her right paw. She had been throw out of a moving truck on a nearby road in a trash bag. She was rescued by a good samaritan and left at the shelter. The fact that she was a double amputee was particularly special because my dad is one too.
The shelter gave her the name "Tasha Two Toes," and we thought it somewhat fitted for a while, but we brought her home, and we were watching the movie "Juno." For some reason, we all thought this was a very fitting name for our new dog. We named her Juno, and she also received a few nicknames, including "Junobug" and "June Bug." At that time, we had a very old dachshund named Peanut. Juno never barked, not once, until Peanut taught her to. That was his final achievement, as soon after he passed away.
From then on, Juno was our only dog. She loved to bark with the other dogs, especially after the lights were out, and she particularly loved to howl (very fluently, I might add) along with sirens if they happened to go off. She loved to receive treats from our dinner plates, she loved belly rubs, she loved ear scratches, and she loved being near us. I often would lay with her for an hour or more, just petting her belly and head. She quickly became a part of our family.
She once had a toy that she loved, called "red-red." Simply saying the words "red-red" would make her perk up and run toward us. It was a toy that we could put peanut butter inside of, which she'd have to lick and manipulate with her paws to eat. Red-red could keep her engaged in a single task for a very long time. In some cases, all day. Sometimes, she'd get angry that we made it so hard to get, so we'd move the peanut butter a bit closer to make it easier for her. We knew she appreciated this because she'd look at us and whine until we acknowledged her and then wag her tail when she saw us use the spoon to pull it closer.
Juno was a "people-dog," but she was not a "dog-dog" by any means. She did not like other dogs whatsoever. On a few occasions, we took her to the local dog park, and she enjoyed chasing balls around. But as other dogs began to chase her ball, she became pissed off (and visibly so). She never growled or bit a human, but if another dog irked her (which was pretty much every other dog that existed), it was extremely apparent. I had to remove her from the dog park on more than one occasion because she didn't like the other dogs.
As she aged, she stayed indoors more and more, and she was content with this. She still got walks, on special routes where I knew no other dogs would be walking. But eventually, she got arthritis in her back hips, and it was harder for her to go on walks. She still walked around the house and went where she felt like, but she couldn't handle the rough pavement outside. For a while, she was okay. She never complained or whined, but she grunted now and again when she was standing to lie down. I never thought she was "in pain."
This year is when it became painfully apparent. Around April, we started noticing that something was wrong. When Juno walked, she would appear to be limping with her back legs, and most of her weight was place on her front limbs. We began to lift her backside with a towel while she walked, which helped and relieved her pain.
Unfortunately, though, her pain and condition devolved far more quickly than we were prepared for. She could no longer stand herself up when she needed to go outside to use the bathroom, and she couldn't get up to feed or water herself. It became a routine to pick her up and carry her to use the bathroom and to bring her food and water. I have to admit; we were selfish in the end. We waited too long.
I know Juno knows that I loved her so much. But she was ready to go to sleep. On October 15th, at 4:08 pm, she was laid on her bed at home. She got some ham (her favorite food) and licked the container. She went to sleep at 4:12 pm as I held her head in my arms.
I will miss you forever Juno. I love you.