Today, sometime around the middle of the afternoon, Gibbs died.
He was having what seemed a normal day. Up in the morning, begging for treats. Barking like crazy at anyone going up or down the stairs. Then, he went to sleep on the sofa.
We were going to a concert and friends were coming over for dinner and coming with us, so I was just getting ready to get dressed for the event. Garry went in to feed the dogs. Gibbs didn’t show up for dinner, so he came in here to shake Gibbs awake, which we often have to do because he was had become a very heavy sleeper, something I attributed to aging.
Garry shook him, but he didn’t wake up. He shook him again. Gibbs normally woke as soon as you touched him. I had that instantly bad feeling you get when something is very wrong. I went over. His eyes were open and were unresponsive. He was warm and his nose was cool and moist, but he was not breathing.
He had died on the sofa in his sleep sometime between mid-morning snack time and four in the afternoon.
We had him for 3 years and 11 months. He was just about to turn 13 in April. He arrived on my birthday, nearly four years ago. He never seemed as old as Bonnie. I always assumed he would outlive her.
I hope we gave him a good home. We had him at the vet just four days ago for his 3-year rabies shot and while we were worried about those enlarged glands in his neck, he was on antibiotics in the hopes it was merely an infection.
The vet said it had to have been some kind of cardiac event, possibly a slow-growing tumor — the kind you never know about because there’s no prelude, no warnings. We’ll never know for sure.
On the way back tonight, I almost went to look in the shed to see if, by some miracle, he had woken up. But I knew better so I didn’t.
I’ve had many dogs over the years, but I’ve never had one simply die in his or her sleep like that. I’m a bit in shock right now and of course, we have to take him to the vet for cremation tomorrow. I would have liked to bury him here, but we live on rocks and without a backhoe, we could not dig deep enough to bury him properly.
He didn’t make a sound while he died and I was sitting just a few feet away. He must have been asleep. Owen points out that he died on his favorite sofa without that terrible, prolonged illness that is typical of old animals. I hope we gave him a good home. At least for these last years, he was free to come and go and get some of the love he never got when he was young.
Rest in peace, Gibbs. You were a beautiful boy.