by Russ Towne
Fifteen years ago, I met someone who became one of my best friends and most loyal companions. He was a little black ball of fur that my family named Sparky. When grown, he looked like a big black Labrador retriever with unusually short legs. Sparky was a special mutt, a faithful guardian to my family. He was gentle and patient with our three children; the four of them grew up together.
At long last Sparky had reached the age of 105 in human years. Sparky’s formerly good health began to fail quickly. Then, for two days he could not stand up; one of his legs had become paralyzed. We had to bring food and water to his mouth.
Sparky had to be carried, but he was in so much pain that it hurt me to move him. His pain pills for arthritis didn’t help much any more. I knew the dreaded time had come to take Sparky to the vet for the last time, but he was so big it would be difficult to get him there alone.
I called my friend Ian to see if he would help carry Sparky to the vet’s office. Even though it meant taking time off from work, Ian didn’t hesitate to help. He even offered to drive his car, knowing how messy a very weak dog can be.
When Ian arrived the next morning, we tried to lift Sparky, but he was in too much pain for us to lift him in our arms. Somehow, Sparky managed to stand up and limp to the car on three legs that still barely worked. We struggled to find a way to lift him into the back of Ian’s SUV.
Ian suggested putting a towel under Sparky’s belly with his front legs dangling on one side and his rear legs dangling from the other. It worked, and it seemed to cause Sparky less pain.
We drove to the vet. Luckily, Ian had brought along a big, heavy dog blanket. We were able to ease Sparky carefully onto the blanket, roll up the sides and carry him into the vet’s office.
Ian stayed with me through it all. He was even there with me helping to soothe Sparky in his final moments of life. The vet had difficulty finding a vein, and very little fluid had been injected when he said Sparky was already gone. He said it was as though Sparky had already decided it was time to go.
I will never forget the kindness that Ian showed in helping a friend out during a painful time. I’m blessed to have such a friend in my life.