My BeginningThe end of my life is growing near. My body has grown limp and weak. I am no longer the naive puppy that I once was. I am now old and worn down, but, nonetheless, much wiser.
I don’t want my family to see me like this. I don’t want them to worry. I don’t want them to have to miss me.
I don’t want to force them to say goodbye.
But I don’t have a choice. My time is coming. It is inevitable.
My name is Mustard. I am a yellow lab owned by a family of seven. I live with two other dogs - some miniature dachshunds about twenty-eight years younger than me. In dog years, that is. We’ve become good friends, of course, and I’ve taught them much of what they know about this household and its inhabitants. Unfortunately… it seems they’ll have to learn the rest on their own.
My body functions feel like they’re beginning to shut down. I no longer feel the urge to eat. I constantly feel like I just got a stomach ache from eating too much. My hind legs aren’t working as well, either, recently. I’ve been reduced to limping instead of walking normally.
I can’t force myself to live. My time is coming, and I’ve accepted it. My family has given me a good life. I’m thankful for everything they’ve done for me.
Now comes the hard part.
Seeing their reactions when they realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day was more painful than actually dying.
“Mustard hasn’t eaten all day? Really? She always finishes eating first,”
“Do you think she’s sick?”
“I hope not… We don’t really have the money for a vet appointment, right now,”
“Have you noticed that she’s been limping all day, too?”
“Yes… She’s an old dog, though. I doubt that the eating thing is related to her legs,”
“I hope you’re right… I can’t deal with having to put down a dog right now,”
I was half asleep beside the two eldests of the family - the parents - while they discussed it. Put down, huh? That’s how I’ll end up going?
I just hope that my death doesn’t cause any other problems for the family. They talk about money a lot, so I hope this doesn’t cost them much. The last thing I’d want is to be the reason that my loved ones ended up in a financial crisis.
It’s not like they all learned it at once. Heidi and Austin figured it out on their own. Gavin and Mason were informed of my situation very casually by their parents. I think they were trying to stay calm about it. I’m glad. Abbie, though, was the last to be told.
Abbie was the youngest. If you know her, you know she’s an animal lover. She was always the one to sit with me when I’d hide in the basement during thunderstorms. She was the one that snuck me food scraps under the table despite being told not to. She was the one that let me sit on the couch when no one was home. She tried to act tough in front of other people (Her “emo phase”, as Heidi called it), but I knew that she wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“Hey, Abbie, be careful around Mustard, okay? She’s hasn’t been eating,”
It seemed like a weird reaction for her. Despite the fact that she was usually very cheerful and optimistic, she still had her low points. Maybe she just didn’t think it was very serious.
I followed her back to her room - she was in the middle of cleaning but took a break to get food - and laid down on the floor.
She stared at me.
I stared back.
After a few seconds, she sat down on her bed and began silently weeping. She was hiding her sadness and concern about me from her family.
She continued to cry for a few minutes, but then dried her eyes and got back to work. I think… she was trying to distract herself. I may just be an old, dumb dog, but I understand my family.
When she finished cleaning, she took all her blankets off the bed and arranged them on her hardwood floor. She beckoned me to come out of my corner and lay down on them. I did as told. I curled up on the floor and she laid down next to me.
We stayed there like that for several hours. I think Abbie fell asleep at some point, but I’m not sure. After it got dark out, she got up and pulled a pad of paper out of her book bag.
We continued to sit together as she drew. She stayed next to me the whole time. Then, when she got too tired to stay up any longer, she laid down and slept on the floor.