My friend Chrissie is probably my closest friend in Los Angeles. I met her a couple of years ago and since then it's been nothing but bitches and barbecues. Okay, maybe not "bitches," necessarily, but I was going for the alliteration.
Chrissie lives in this rockin' apartment in Manhattan Beach, about a block from the water. She has a back yard with a BBQ, and when I met her, she had two cats and a dog. Cats: Sauce and Toonie. Dog: Riggs.
Riggs was this beast of a Rottweiler. His steps were lumbering, and we was too big for the back yard when it was full of Chrissie's friends. He was constantly knocking over dips and salsas accidentally, and he was always on standby for any fallen meat. He loved everyone, and followed Chrissie around loyally. He always seemed to be "in the way," but we all loved him so much we didn't care. We laughed about how big he was, and how he had no clue of his size.
He fell a couple of months ago, and when Chrissie took him to the vet, they realized he had diabetes. He lost a lot of weight and ate like a king for a few months. The doctor put him on a diet of pasta, ground beef, and chicken, with regular shots of insulin. He wasn't walking well, but his spirits were good.
When Chrissie texted me the day before Christmas Eve, I knew it would be a rough day. Her text said, "I think it's time for Riggs." He had been up all night, sick. He couldn't get up to go to the bathroom. He had stopped eating. He was refusing water. She planned to drop him off at the vet and see what they could do. I told her to call me when she knew more. She called me in the afternoon and said she decided it was time.
Gina and I met her at the animal hospital. Her eyes were red, but she was her normal self, joking and laughing about everything. She assured me she cried all night long and snuggled with her dog. She led us into Riggs' room, where he was hooked up to an IV. He looked miserable. He was panting heavily and his tongue was a splotchy red, not the normal healthy pink. He was congested and his eyes were watery. He didn't raise his head or even wag his tail when he saw us. He just lay there, helpless, miserable... ready.
The three of us gave him lots of love, scratched his ears, and told him we loved him. Chrissie's girlfriend Lindsay arrived, and about 15 minutes later, the doctor came in with two syringes. Because of Riggs' size, the doctor figured it'd take a lot to do the job. I was worried it would be traumatic to him, to us, to Chrissie. I was worried we'd see death rip him from us. Instead, the doctor, who loved this dog almost as much as we did, gently rubbed Riggs' head, assured Chrissie she was making the right decision, and administered the shot. Not a quarter of the way through the first syringe, Riggs, this 110 pound Rottie, left peacefully. His breathing slowed, and he was gone, with an audible sigh of relief. We cried, but all of us, Chrissie included, knew we did Riggs a favor. He was done... he wasn't the same dog. And we sent him off with love and heavy hearts.
We miss you, Riggie. Big Rig. Rigatoni. Riggles. Gettin' Riggy with it. Multiple Riggs.