Brooks is gone.
He died this weekend. It was nearly a year ago that we brought him home.
Anybody who has followed this thread knows the deal. I was deeply sick at the beginning of last year and had a fair amount of recuperating to do. My wife and I decided to get a second dog. After a brief stumble with a dog who didn't get along with our existing dog, I met Brooks.
We were told he was eleven years old. Maybe he was. Maybe he was a year or two younger. We'll never know. He came to us by way of a shelter in Pennsylvania who couldn't adopt him. Why? I'll never imagine...except that he had some minor health concerns--skin allergies and such.
But all I saw was a big lug who was as peaceful and loving as any dog I had ever met. He helped me out of my illness and to a full recovery. And what did he ask for in repayment? My hand to pet his head and scratch his back. A real bargain from where I sit.
The only thing I think Brooks might've loved more than me was a tennis ball. Any one would do. There were days that he'd carry one around in his mouth from morning until night.
So on Thursday after a couple days of Brooks not being up to snuff (and in apparent pain), we brought him to the vet who gave him a thorough hands-on exam. Finding nothing, she planned a series of X-rays. She came back to the examining room after taking only two pictures. He had a big mass in his abdomen near his spleen and more than a dozen tumors in his lungs. Cancer.
The vet told us the best we could do is bring him home and make him as comfortable as we can. He had maybe a few weeks to live.
I left work early Friday and we had a great afternoon together. We went on a nice walk (with lots of great smells!), got the dogs some ice cream (decadent treat!) and built a make-shift ramp so Brooks could navigate the back stairs more easily.
Later that night, with his head in my lap, Brooks began to have a seizure. He had several more before the night was over and we had him put down at the all-night emergency clinic. It was a horrible evening. The vet figured the cancer must've reached his brain.
Brooks was a good boy.
I have had four other dogs in my life. Each of them was great. But though I only had Brooks in my life for a year, he is now the gold standard against which I will judge all other dogs.
All those things we say when we talk about our dogs: the unconditional love, the faithfulness, the loyalty, etc. Brooks embodied them all.
He was the sweetest, most loving dog ever. And I miss him. Greatly.