What my family and I had been expecting for a couple of weeks finally happened this weekend; our family dog, Sparky, had to be put down.

Two weeks ago, he started having convulsions so we took him to the vet. They gave him an antibiotic that didn’t seem to have much of an effect for a couple of days, then he rallied and seemed like his old self. Then he relapsed and started having seizures again. Once again, we took him to the vet and this time they prescribed a steroid to help calm the inflammation they feared was in his brain. This also helped, but only temporarily as he started getting much worse convulsions.

This past Friday night was particularly bad for him so Saturday morning my wife got an emergency appointment at the veterinarian. He said that Sparky almost surely had a brain tumor. The vet said that, in good conscience, he couldn’t recommend brain surgery on a 10-year-old dog, so, with my wife and daughter by his side, Sparky was put down.

Technically, Sparky was my daughter, Veronica’s dog. Ten years ago (when she was 9) she and her brothers asked if we could get a dog. I said “no” because I wasn’t confident anyone would take care of the dog. I told her she would have to change my mind (which I didn’t feel was likely) in order to get a dog. She put together a presentation on a tri-fold poster to highlight the advantages of getting a miniature schnauzer: they don’t shed much so our clothes wouldn’t get covered in leftover fur; they are hypoallergenic (my youngest son is mildly allergic), and they were bred to catch rodents (we lived next to an open field at the time and had quite a few mice take up residence in our basement). I was impressed with her effort, so I relented and told her she could get a dog.

Btw, in 10 years, the dog didn’t catch a single rodent and, as far as I can tell, never even tried. The dog wasn’t all that bright, although he did graduate at the top of his class in obedience training, but the other dogs in the class were even less bright, but our children loved him and he was a constant companion over the last decade. My wife wound up being the primary caretaker of the dog, and she spoiled him terribly, doing all the things you’re not supposed to do like feeding him people food. As a matter of fact, one Saturday night as I was grilling hamburgers, I noticed there was an extra one and asked my wife why; she said it was for the dog! He got cooked-to-order meals.

Sparky has moved on and my wife and kids all have broken hearts, but they will heal and the dog will always be one of the highlights of their youth.

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