July 31st, 2017, my parents had to put our 14-year-old childhood dog to sleep. He was very old, and this past month his health was declining faster than before. Before, he only had a little trouble getting around — no more running — but he seemed happy. But the week that they made the decision, he wasn’t able to get up and move around much at all.
I had went to do my laundry at their place a couple of weeks prior; they live an hour away so I don’t visit as much these days. I wish I had spent a little more time with him. Honestly, once mom called me to tell me about the vet appointment, I should have gone up there. But, I always tried to appreciate my time with Cyrus. He’s been an old dog for a while now, and I wanted to make sure I let him know I love him while he was still around.
I cried a lot the first two days. I didn’t cry at all the third (I took some extra Sertraline, maybe that helped? Or placebo effect?), and I didn’t cry today because I was pretty busy. I was laying down for bed, my cat was asleep on my chest with her arm around me, and I just started crying again.
I remember the day we got Cyrus. I don’t have a ton of memories from my teen years anymore, but I always remember opening the door to our Raytown house and seeing a white fluff-ball in the grass. Mom and Rose had gotten Cyrus together, after they both did a lot of research on what kind of dog would be a good size and a good temperament for her to handle. My little sister was probably 11 and pretty small, so they didn’t want a dog that would be able to pull and push her around. Rose was definitely bigger than Cyrus.
We named him “Cyrus” because this was before the Harry Potter movies, and my sister and I thought that the name “Sirius” was pronounced “Cyrus”. We went with the spelling that mom chose. His full name is Cyrus Diego Santana Morris. This was also before Dora and Diego as well, and back when mom still liked Santana. Mom liked Santana our entire childhoods, but apparently he did something she didn’t like and she doesn’t like Santana anymore.
We used Cyrus as an actor in our home movies. During the summers, our two cousins would spend the days with us while their parents worked, and I had a video camera. We were always making movies – Lego movies, live-action movies, Play-Doh movies, etc. Sometimes, Cyrus was a Pokémon, sometimes he was an attack dog.
I moved out of my parents house when I was 21. I’m 29 now, so 8 years ago, I suppose that Cyrus was about 6 years old. Rose stayed around until a couple of years ago when she moved to Seattle. We grew up with Cyrus, but as we moved out of the house, he really became my mom’s dog. A month or two before Cyrus died, mom bought a dog-stroller and took Cyrus on a trip to Springfield, MO. They went on a cave tour and to a botanical garden. I’m really glad that Cyrus got a cool vacation in his last year.
When our relative got married in some random place in Missouri, we brought Cyrus along then, too.
Cyrus always loved company, especially visits from our family back when everyone seemed livelier… There were more family gatherings and, I think, more joy. But our family has had several tragedies, and we haven’t been the same since. I miss Norma, and I miss Noah.
As Cyrus got older, mom began putting sweaters on him to keep him warm in the snow. He actually really liked the sweaters and was always resistant to having someone take it off. It was pretty damn cute.
Cyrus was always a constant in our lives, for fourteen years. Rose went from a tween to an adult, I went from a teen to an older-adult. Every Christmas, every laundry day, every random visit, Cyrus was around.
Towards the end he was pretty deaf, so you would have to go to him because he wouldn’t hear you calling. He was mostly lazy, laying around in the same room as us, or waddling around outside, or on a rare occasion where another family dog was around, he would get excited.
I don’t know what happened with his paws, but somewhere along the line he began walking on his front “wrists”, giving him a weird floppy walk. He seemed to get around OK, mom said he never seemed in pain, and he continued like that for… well, this picture was from 2013, so four years I guess. No more running, but plenty of walks around the lake and exploring with mom.
Mom said that taking Cyrus to the vet was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do. I had always assumed he would just go naturally, and I think that would have been easier? Nothing you can do about an old dog passing away in his sleep. But making that decision, and calling Rose and I to let us know, it was hard for all of us.
Mom said he passed away quickly, and that she had brought a blanket with her that was the one she always put him on while cutting his hair. She said that she swaddled his body afterward and they brought him home, and that he felt like a baby.
They buried him in a shady spot in the yard and put some logs over the area to deter other animals, and dad is working on a gravestone.
I went to their place the day after, and it was hard. I thought maybe mom needed me there for comfort, but I feel like I’m the one who has been crying like a baby all week. Maybe I’m just a lot more sensitive; I get distressed if anyone even harms a stuffed doll (I got really mad at my fiancé for jokingly saying he didn’t like my stuffed bear that I sleep with.)
The absence of our dog just feels like another door shut on our past. When we first came to Missouri, uncle Dan and aunt Norma are the first relatives I remember meeting, and I remember playing Twisted Metal on their son’s PS1. Our extended family changed over time; deaths, divorces, new marriages, new goals. My sister moved away, my cousin got married, I started a business. But the loss of Cyrus just feels like the end of the end of the past, if that makes sense; the past is completely over now. We can never have another childhood dog, and we will never see Cyrus again. We will think about him for the rest of our lives, but we can’t go back and spend one more day with him, or one more day as children.