If Dugan wasn’t the world’s greatest dog (and I think he was), I know this for certain: He was unquestionably this man’s best friend.
At 15 years and seven months, Dugan lived an incredibly full, healthy, and loving life. Inside Dugan existed the type of spirit usually reserved for ultra marathon runners or men who climb Mount Everest.
If you knew Dugan, you appreciated how hard he fought to keep fighting the last years of his life. Even though medicines became less effective causing arthritis to completely take away his ability to move around without extreme discomfort and stress, Dugan never stopped giving 110% effort to keep going.
It didn’t matter how difficult the stairs were for his arthritis-ridden limbs, he never refused to go up or come down.
A younger Dugan was equally relentless. No matter how far the ball was thrown across the field or into the pond, he would not rest until it was retrieved … and retrieved again.
But at some point, you get so winded, so heavy-legged, so weary the coach has no choice but to take you out of the game.
This morning, with great sadness, guilt, regret, and sorrow, and with the help of my parents, I agreed to take Dugan out of the game.
Dugan’s primary goal in life was to make the people in his life happy. Fetching a ball until his legs gave out – you got it. Sleeping at the end of your bed even though it hurt so badly to walk up the stairs to the bedroom – think nothing of it. Sitting by your side day after day aiming to please and asking nothing in return – that was Dugan.
He was the epitome of this man’s best friend. A friend for life.
Unfortunately for us, a dog’s life – even Dugan’s – is far, far too short to leave us completely satisfied.
I believe that Dugan ultimately gave up his life so that someday another dog can step into his spot and be this man’s best friend. Another dog will get a chance to share all those moments and memories at the park, to share a good meal (me at the table, he at my side enjoying the scraps), or just together lying around the house.
The last months of Dugan’s life were filled with difficult changes for both him and me. But while sometimes I had a hard time staying positive, Dugan’s spirit never wavered. No matter how hard the adjustment was, Dugan seemed to only grow stronger in spirit and resolve.
My mom told me many times the only reason Dugan made it as long as he did was because he worried about me. Would I be OK?
All dogs are devoted but for Dugan it bordered on obsession.
Well, Dugan. Please worry about me no longer. Believe me, Dugan; at the end, I worried more about you than you ever did about me.
Today, we need not worry about each other any longer. Hopefully, by ending the pain of his swollen joints and worn-out organs, Dugan will find the comfort, relaxation, and the peace he so richly deserves.
If there is a doggie heaven, Dugan surely is there this afternoon.