Yesterday, December 31, 2012, Hondo and I went for a walk. It started as a run, but Hondo was too busy sniffing-this-and-peeing-on-that to keep up with me, so I slowed my pace and kept time with his exploring on both sides of the wooded trail.
Normally, Hondo runs alongside or slightly in front of me, but yesterday, he was like a pup with renewed interest in the flora and fauna of our regular route. It was a fine day, and I did not push him to keep up, nor did I scold him for lollygagging. Eventually, I simply walked while Hondo took time to stop and smell the world.
At about the halfway point, we came to a fork in the trail and I snapped a photo on my iPhone and Tweeted it with the caption “Which way do we go?”
It was a special photo, as Hondo actually sat and seemed to contemplate in which direction we should turn:
Now, 24 hours after I snapped that photo of my four-legged partner, I am left to make the journey on my own.
Hondo passed away this afternoon.
After struggling to get out of his dog house this morning, Hondo collapsed against my legs when he finally freed himself. His breathing was laboured, his gums were white, and he was suffering.
My dear, sweet dog, my faithful partner since 2005, was leaving me.
The vet who treated Hondo for the cancerous tumor on his spleen said that when the cancer came back, it would be very sudden. I would know when it was time.
Hondo was propped on his forelegs, labouring for breath. It was clear he had suffered a catastrophic setback – he made a soft cry with every breath.
It was time.
My husband gathered the kids. I made a couple of phone calls.
Then I lay beside Hondo on his bed in front of our fireplace. He lay his head in my hands and let out a whimper. My tears fell on his fur.
My husband drove us to the vet, and other dog handlers met us en route.
Red and blue lights flashed as a convoy of K9 SUV’s enveloped us in their midst to escort us for Hondo’s final call.
I was with Hondo until the very end.
Eight years of companionship, service and loyalty.
Curled around his back, I cradled his head and buried my face in the thick fur around his neck. Hondo managed one last nuzzle against the palm of my hand.
Then he was gone.
“He is your friend, your partner, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”
- author unknown
Police Service Dog #0478 Hondo
March 7, 2004 – January 1, 2013