Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Last Walk

It was the first week of December.  Phoenix our Mudhol hound who had been with us since way back in Bombay had been showing signs of his age.  Niggling health issues kept cropping up -  he would get disoriented, often trip and fall and would need help to get up again. Our  very able vet Dr. Gourish Padukone,  had warned us on his last visit that there wasn’t much that he could do other than keep him comfortable and out of pain.  And he indeed did a commendable job of it. 

Phoenix used to love the walks up the hillside behind Huli Devana, but he had stopped accompanying us for quite some months now.  His joints would swell up sometimes and he often needed warm oil massaged on his legs to reduce the pain.  But on the morning of the 6th, as we put on our shoes he seemed to perk up, and followed us out of the gate. I thought he would return after a few metres as he would often do, but no, he continued on.  We slowed our speed to wait for him at a couple of spots.  One particularly high rock which he would normally have leapt over nimbly proved a challenge for him and Vivek had to lift him up.   He would pause every now and then,  with his breathing sounding laboured, but there was a strange determination in him. A couple of times, out of concern I said to Vivek –‘I think we should turn back – it will be too strenuous for him’.  But when we did turn and start walking back, he refused to retrace his steps and waited until we retraced ours and moved further on. Finally we reached the very top of the hill which is flat  and has patches of wonderfully soft golden hay. 

We often sit and admire the view while the dogs love to roll in it. 

Today Phoenix let out a long sigh and turned around a couple of times before painfully sitting down. He turned his head and pushing his nose into the soft grass, closed his eyes.  

We allowed him to rest while the others played around in the grass.

When it was time to leave, I had to literally shake him awake and say “Phoenix lets go home”.  The return was slow as we waited for him to catch his breath after every few steps.  Halfway down he found another patch of similar hay and sat down for a little more time.  Back home, he fell into a deep slumber.

That was his last walk on his favourite hillside with us.

By the third week of December, his health was failing, his food intake had reduced.  On 24th he refused his favourite treat – the Chewsticks and we knew then that his time was near. That night he seemed in pain and we took turns to be with him.   At around 2 am, he started moaning,  Vivek spent the rest  of the night cradling his head on his lap.  He slept like a baby on his masters lap.

He breathed his last on the morning of 25th December.  He spent 11 years with us giving us so much joy and love.

Phoenix, you will be missed!

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