Goodbye Sweet Major

When we got Major in January 2013, it had been two and a half years since we’d lost Hank. Our hearts were finally ready for a new dog, and the boys had long since been asking if we were ever going to get another one. Bringing Major home was a special event.

Enduring his puppyhood was a massive adjustment for our house. The little blue tick had a ton of energy that needed to be expended on a daily (hourly?) basis.

As soon as I discovered the Gentle Leader head collar, I started taking Major on runs with me. That was the magic activity he needed. Throughout his youth, Major logged hundreds of miles alongside me. He knew the sound my running shoes made as I put them on. He eyeballed me as I’d walk towards his leash. As soon as it was in my hand, he’d start barking and running around the living room. He was a dog who needed a job, and his job was training for half marathons.

It wasn’t long until Major made friends with our neighbor’s dog, which was convenient because Sam liked to spend the day at our house while his parents were at work. Sam would show up in the morning and bark at the door, and Major would bark for our attention. Someone needed to open the door and let Sam in!

Sam continued to visit us until he passed away in September 2020, just a week before my dad died.

Loyal as ever, Major was a constant companion to the boys. He loved laying in the homeschool room during the elementary years, and he eventually started sleeping in Jeremy’s room most nights. He loved to be wherever the action was, and if we were hanging out on the front porch, then he wanted to be there too.

And if it snowed? He wanted to join the boys every time.

In his prime, Major was up for just about anything as long as he didn’t have to swim.

Last year, Major started slowing down in a noticeable way. His four-mile runs shortened and slowed to two-mile walks. His hips were stiff, he slept more, and he put on a little weight. Still, he was seemingly healthy and happy. In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed the two snows we had this winter.

Unfortunately, his good health didn’t last. About a month ago, we noticed he was losing a significant amount weight. I took him to the vet on April 25, when they discovered a large tumor on his prostate. The doctor made a shape with her hands to show how big the tumor was.

“Like a baked potato?” I asked.

“Bigger than a baked potato,” she replied. “The goal now is to keep him comfortable. Give him whatever he wants to eat. Cheeseburgers. Steak. Whatever he wants.”

I couldn’t believe it, but at the same time, I already knew. In the span of two weeks, he’d gone from a chubby, upbeat senior dog to a skinny, lethargic skeleton. He is normally the center of attention at the vet’s office, but on this day, he laid down as soon as we were in a room.

We were given enough pain medication for two weeks, and sure enough, little by little each day, Major declined.

Of course, we were already in the midst of an emotional time with Jeremy’s graduation this Saturday. In fact, April 25 was Senior Night at his last home soccer game. It wrecked us to tell the kids later that night. We all cried.

When Monday, May 9 arrived, there was a palpable sorrow in our home. We all shoveled around knowing that the 2 p.m. appointment was looming. Throughout the day, multiple times, we each stopped to pet Major, to love on him, to lay next to him, to cry on him, to tell him how good he is… on and on it went.

And then the doctor and vet tech showed up, which I was grateful for because I didn’t want him to die at the clinic. We sat around him in our living room, loved on him even more, and cried as the procedure began. Then, about 15 minutes later, he was gone.

We know we’ll outlive our pets, but that doesn’t lessen the pain we feel when they leave us. Major was such a good boy, the most loyal and friendly to a fault. We were so lucky to have him.

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