Yesterday at 4:33 PM PDT we said our final goodbye to Ufi. Though his loss is devastating, his death afforded him the dignity I really wanted him to have.
In saying his final goodbye, Ufi reminded us of what made him so special and made sure he left us with one more memory to cherish.
As I said yesterday, my hope was to help Ufi believe yesterday was a normal day. Part of the benefit of helping him pass at home was making him as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Mom and I both did a good job of keeping busy. Mom cleaned everything in sight. While less productive, I listened to music, read, and even shot baskets for the first time in almost a week.
For his part, Ufi had one of his better days. He made it out to the back after having his morning pills. He walked around the house a bit. He went out front. Even though he was no longer able to go much beyond the yard, he did convince grandma he needed the amount of treats he would get on a walk around the entire block.
At one point, I was listening to him pant even though I had the temperature set to 63 for his comfort. Thinking he was uncomfortable, I was having a hard time keeping my sadness inside. So, I sat on the swing in the backyard. I wasn’t going to let him see me upset.
Sitting on the swing, I let the tears flow for a few minutes. Feeling the first warm sun in about a week on my legs, I cried over Ufi’s inability to enjoy a day he would have once loved. Walking around the artificial grass I fought to get because of his allergies, I was angry he was only healthy enough to fully enjoy it for one summer. Standing in the side yard where his pool sat empty, I got an idea.
Listening to the water splash into the plastic pool, I was nervous. What if he got hurt doing this? What if he can’t do it and that hurts him?
I hung up the hose and stood with my toes touching the side of the pool. Standing there with the sun on my face, I had a feeling Ufi would once again rise to the occasion.
As the day wore on, he became less-and-less active. This was nothing new for Ufi, and it reenforced what we were about to do. Still, I could never get used to seeing him inactive. When Ufi and I first moved into this house, you couldn’t go outside without him. At the end, he rarely went out with you.
When Barb came over after work, he didn’t even get up to see her. When the vet came, he didn’t bark or move. Ufi was telling us the good times were all but over.
When it was time to say goodbye, Mom got some of the roast she made for him earlier in the day. We knew that was the only thing that would motivate him enough to make it out to his yard.
After eating the roast, Ufi noticed his pool. To my joy and fear, he started toward it.
With my heart beating faster, Ufi got near his pool. It wasn’t the running bellyflop that was a sound of summer for years, but he was thinking about it.
Carefully, he slowly got into his pool and fell onto his belly. Listening to him drinking the water, my heart fluttered. Right up to the end, Ufi was displaying the determination we admire so much about him. Ufi had to go. I had to set the stage for him to go comfortably. Ufi would go on his terms.
When he struggled out of the pool, we were all nervous. But he made it out, walked over to his beloved ring, and settled down.
When Mom and I sat next to him, Ufi got up and put the ring down. I got to roll it to him one final time. That was a treat I never expected.
Ufi got in his pool one final time. With the water sloshing around him and the warm sun beating down I, for an instant, let myself feel like summer should feel here.
When he was out of the pool for the second time, it was time to say goodbye. While part of me knew it really was time. There was a part of me that thought of him in the pool and wondered.
The memory of his prior experience in the pool, when he got hurt and cried, reminded me to stick to the plan.
After Ufi finished a chicken foot grandma had gotten for him, it was time.
The first injection was a sedative. It was supposed to have him sleeping in two minutes. Ufi, as always, had other plans.
Motivated by his toy, his pool, the warm sun, and most importantly the crumbs of roast a few feet away, Ufi wasn’t going to sleep.
Even after Mom gave him the crumbs of roast, Ufi kept looking at Mom and I. He would watch over us until he took his final breath.
It took almost 10 minutes for Ufi to go to sleep. As he rested, Mom and I reminded him of how much we love him. We once again told him of how badly he would be missed. We thanked him for all the amazing memories.
Struggling unsuccessfully to hold it together, I let Ufi know I could never repay him for all he had done for me. I told him I hoped he knew I was doing this to protect him from getting really hurt or sick. I wanted him to know I was doing this to protect him as he had so willingly protected me.
When it was time, Mom, Aunt Barb, and I all pulled down our masks and kissed our beloved boy goodbye. We all once again told him how much we love him.
When his courageous, strong heart had finally taken its last beat, I let it all go. In death as in life, Ufi had shown us the kind of courage, determination, and love of life that can’t be measured.
The U-dawg is gone. The U-dawg will never be forgotten. In exactly seven years and five months, Ufi left a mark that will last as long as those of us lucky enough to have loved him are alive to share his stories. For many dogs are loved.
Dogs always leave behind love and memories. Ufi also leaves behind a legacy of admiration. Not many people can claim that distinction.
Ufi couldn’t have been better for us. I couldn’t adequately summarize his goodbye without a special thanks to Cynthia, Dean, and their families. They were Ufi’s puppy raisers. Through my posts about his life, I have been lucky enough to have met the people who so obviously gave Ufi the start he needed to become all he became. The fact that both Cynthia and Dean searched for Ufi years after having helped raise him is a testament to what a special dog Ufi was and to how much they care about the critical job they do.
As I end this post and think about a few more posts about Ufi that are coming, I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. The last seven years and five months of my life would not have been nearly as special without the love you all gave Ufi and the work you did with him.
As we all get used to a world without Ufi, I’m glad he brought us together and that we all shared in his love.