Goodbye good boy
“We’re going to drive an hour to see a puppy today. Just to look.”
You don’t drive an hour to “see” a puppy. But that’s what we thought we were doing. Our neighbor had recently brought home a Beagle puppy; we were newly married and living in a small townhome. We told ourselves we didn’t have room for a dog... But maybe a tiny dog? Could we do that? Flirting with the idea, we looked at Craigslist ads and found a litter of Dachshund mix puppies that were eight weeks old. We were broke, but $125 for a puppy didn’t seem outrageous.
We arrived, and there he was in a small pen with three of his siblings. Soft, sweet, and the most adorable thing we’d ever seen. Sure, his siblings were cute, but he outshined them all. In your early 20s, you tend to live on whims; it was a Saturday, and we were leaving on a week-long trip on Monday. We begged the owners to accept a “deposit” and hold him for a week. Our deposit amounted to all the cash on us at the time. Thirteen dollars. We were young and in love, and we had just fallen in love with a dog that would change our world.
I left our trip early the next week to start my first design job. The night after my first day of work, I drove to Mocksville, North Carolina, to pick up our puppy. We discussed three names on our trip: Fenway, Beauregard, and Chainsaw. Chainsaw was my favorite, so I picked him up with that name.
Chainsaw was my first dog. I was in the middle of nowhere North Carolina with a puppy that I had no clue what to do with and an hour’s drive ahead of me to pick up my wife from the airport. So I threw Chainsaw in a crate in the passenger seat and buckled the seatbelt around it. He squeaked the whole way to the airport. As we were taking the exit to the airport, Chainsaw decided he needed to poop in the crate and proceeded to roll around in it. I got to the airport and tried to clean him up with as best I could with the two to three napkins in the car before Ali arrived.
When Ali arrived, we had a massive laugh, a big hug, and cuddles with our new puppy. This is how life would continue. Big messes, full hearts, and so much laughter.
I never thought I would get a dog. I didn’t know I was a dog person. As a child, I was bitten in the face and arm, had stitches, and ran away crying from multiple dogs. I was scared of dogs. That was until I met Chainsaw. Dogs can be intimidating, but I never knew the unconditional love a dog could give. No matter how I felt or what failures I had in my day, I quickly learned that Chainsaw just wanted to be with me, play, cuddle, and give me love.
He grew into a barky and energetic dog. He was stubborn and too smart for his own good. He was the softest dog most people had ever pet, we joked he was part seal. He made endless mischief and big messes; our home was filled with barks and the clatter of nails clicking across the laminate floors as he ran circles around the house. Chainsaw had two speeds, one and ten. There was nothing in the middle. He either wanted to sprint and play or aggressively cuddle.
He was a small dog, but in his mind, the biggest dog in the park. He always befriended the German shepherds and Rottweilers. I remember a day he was playing fetch with several big dogs. A man threw a tennis ball, 5 large dogs, and Chainsaw took off. Chainsaw was small but very fast; he sprinted, undercutting a large dog. Laughing, a man asked, “Did your tiny dog just take out my pitbull?”
Chainsaw had us constantly walking our neighborhood and making new friends. He kept us grounded when we could have become nomads. He licked our tears through our low points in life and dominated our camera role. Our days and routines were intertwined with his. At moments, it felt like our freedom was taken away, but what we got back in exchange was something I would never give up.
He was a fireball, and his personality was huge, but he was also deep and empathetic. My wife used to be a high school teacher, one year a former student of hers lost his dad around Christmas. Knowing he was devastated, Ali invited him over; typically, when people arrived at our house, Chainsaw wanted to bark and play, and it would take a while for him to calm down. But when this kid arrived, Chainsaw knew something was amiss. Ali’s former student grabbed a spot on the couch, and Chainsaw immediately hopped up on his lap and didn’t leave for the rest of the night. Her student pet him, crying softly, and Chainsaw was there knowing he needed love.
We knew the last couple of years our time with him was ending. Chainsaw’s energy dropped; he couldn’t jump on the couch, and he didn’t pull you forward on walks. When our son Banks was born, Chainsaw became his protector. He stood on guard duty, always facing the door protecting Banks. He knew that Banks was our baby, and because he was ours, he was Chainsaw’s. Chainsaw was old but let Banks crawl all over him, cuddle, and even tackle him. He never once reacted poorly. He just loved our kid with all the affection he had given us.
Toward the end, I was facing heart surgery and a medical future that was emotionally taxing. I was a wreck. Looking back, I believe Chainsaw held on, knowing I needed him to last until after my surgery.
In the last couple of weeks, we started noticing things. We had been treating his Cushings disease for a couple years, but it was beginning to really impact him; we had constant conversations with the vet and questioned what to do. Putting an animal to sleep is a gut-wrenching decision. We hoped he would peacefully pass away in his sleep, but if not, our prayer was that it would be quick and obvious when the time came. It was.
At fifteen and a half years old, on the evening of January 30th, 2024, Chainsaw took a drastic turn for the worse. His body started to rapidly shut down; he could barely stand, he began to fall down, he wouldn’t drink, and he panted heavily, struggling to breathe. It was clear this was the end. My wife got home, went to Chainsaw, and looked at me with tears in her eyes, “We are going to have to put him down, aren’t we?”
We pulled him onto our bed and cuddled him with everything we had. We gave him his favorite snack, a Kong toy filled with peanut butter. He was so weak that he ate it while lying on his side. But he wagged his tail the whole time. We sat there with him, researching what to do, and balled. We thought maybe he could sleep and it could wait until morning, but he couldn’t. He whimpered, crying, ragged breathing, coughing, and in so much pain. We couldn’t let him suffer. We loved him too much.
My wife, his puppy sister Samurai Warrior Princess, and I said goodbye to Chainsaw at an emergency vet around 11:45pm. They gave us all the time we needed with him and told us to ring the bell for the vet when we were ready. I held him. He was smiling as he panted but in so much pain. After some time, Ali looked at me and asked:
“Should we ring the bell?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want it to end. I love him so much. Do we need more time?”
“No matter how long we wait, it will never be enough.”