It seems like it happened so fast, so quickly he was gone. I’m left all torn up, in shock, in tears.

It hasn’t even been a month since Monty was diagnosed with Lymphoma, but I knew the first day I felt the first big lump in his chest and neck that he didn’t have long. Somehow I just knew.

He had been losing weight quickly. Still had a ferocious appetite, but had the runs all week, like his food was just going right through him. He had a really lethargic day on the weekend and we got pretty worried, but bounced back with a walk around the neighbourhood.

He’s been coughing a bit, and slow with his food. He was snoring when he wasn’t even asleep, and panting.

At lunch today I gave him a milkbone, and then he was making a crazy repetitive smacking sound with his mouth and was pacing relentlessly. I opened his mouth to check and took out a big ball of dense food on the back of his tongue. He just couldn’t swallow it.

I took him for a walk this afternoon and he was suddenly so weak and slow that we only walked from the gate in the back of our fence, through the back alley to around the end of the block and around to our front door. He had enough. He was beside or behind me the entire way. Just last night we had a great walk and he was doing so well!

But he didn’t come to the kitchen quickly when my iPhone alarm went off for his dinner and prednisone dose tonight. When he realized I was setting down his bowl of food, he came to eat, but he couldn’t eat. He couldn’t swallow it. Then he just stood there, a little panicked maybe, he didn’t want to move. We got him into the living room where he rested for a bit, but then stood again. Thinking there must still be food in his throat that was choking him, I did the finger sweep and felt it. Something big, tumour perhaps, in his throat. The reason he couldn’t swallow.

We knew it was time. We just didn’t want to know. It was already after-hours, but Jeff was able to get our local vet here on the phone and he agreed to see us. We hadn’t met our vet before, because he was out of town in December when we rushed Monty to the vet in Whitehorse.

John, the vet, is a really nice man. So caring and thoughtful. He said Monty’s neck was so swollen and he could hear the cancer in his lungs when he was breathing so loudly. Monty was really not himself, just standing in one place, not wanting to move, hunched a bit, and trembling.

John gave us all the time we needed, to hug and love him as he left us. He didn’t really want to go, though, and after being diagnosed as gone, he came back for awhile. Not in distress, and still asleep, but it was just like Monty to be a bit stubborn. I don’t think he was ready to leave any more than we were ready to say good-bye.

It isn’t easy to say good-bye and just walk away when you live in the frozen subarctic in January though. Think about it. You can’t really just dig a hole here when everything is frozen, nor can you expect your vet clinic to take care of arrangements, when there isn’t a vet clinic. The vet’s office is just an area in the back of his own house. So Monty came home with us. Locally, our only option for his body is disposal at the landfill, and neither of us are keen on that option. So we’ll be driving him this week down to Whitehorse, to a pet crematorium.

When you lose a pet, especially after a period of sickness, where you are caring for them so intensely, you are always conscious of where they are, with a sense of how they are doing, and if they are awake or asleep. When that loved one is suddenly gone, but you still know he’s lying nearby, well, its a tough mind buster. Before going to bed tonight, Jeff went outside to check on him, where he’s bundled up in blankets the back of the truck, maybe even to make sure he was still gone and didn’t need us. It’s a lot to wrap your head around.

Awwww Monty, it’s so shitty that you are gone. At 10, you were still so agile, so limber, and active. We should have had years still to go, years of more walks, adventures, and rides in the truck. Cancer took you so fast.

We had a rough start, Monty and I. He was my first puppy, who I brought home right after losing my first two golden retrievers back to back. I was grieving so hard, and he was nothing like the gentle senior giants I had just lost. I feel like we didn’t bond for years. He hated grooming, where my other two would let me brush them and cut their nails while they slept on their back. He never once wanted to cuddle or snuggle, and never once fell asleep on my lap like everyone said a puppy would. He was an independent dog. He made me so frustrated and I cried so many tears in his first year. I’d let him out in the yard at night before bed, and he’d do his business, and then he’d just stand in the back corner of the yard and would refuse to come in. If I tried to go after him and grab him, he’d run away. I had to attach a super long rope to his collar so I’d be able to catch him. If I forgot that, I’d sit waiting on the outdoor steps in the dark, silently crying, wishing he’d just come inside. This standoff would never end until I’d bribe him with the “cookie” word to get him to come inside, which I continued to do, until this very day on which he died. He’d do anything for a cookie.

Monty was never really just my dog. He’s always belonged to both of us. Jeff and his chocolate lab were always around, and then moved in with us within Monty’s first year. I remember we went through an awful frustrating phase where Monty would poop an enormous pile of poop on the carpet every night when he was just a year or so old. It was incredibly frustrating and draining (and stinky) and confusing. We couldn’t seem to prevent it with a crate or taking him out.  As it turned out, he just couldn’t handle that supposedly premium healthy food we were giving him. Once we figured that out, and long after he earned the Monty Poopster nickname, we were all happier.

He was an awesome dog. So good. Never did much wrong, and wasn’t ever destructive. He was a winter puppy and I remember taking him out in the snow and cold every 20 minutes to house break him. I loved him, but I felt like we weren’t connecting the same way as I did with my two other dogs that I adopted as adults. I drove me wild that he wouldn’t let me cut his nails, which surely made it worse. He was an incredible learner and would have gone so far in obedience and agility, but I just didn’t have my heart in dog competitions anymore. I did show him, in conformation, and even got his Canadian Championship title! After the grief of losing my first goldens though, I had this philosophy that our dogs just will never live long enough, so I should let him do whatever he wanted. He self soothed himself as a puppy by suckling stuffed animals and I didn’t have the heart to take his toys away, so he did that for the rest of his life.

He was a kleenex lover, and stole them to eat every chance he got, he’d even stick his nose in my sweatshirt front pocket to take out a tissue to eat. He was a loud singer/whiner. What I thought was just puppy noises, he did for the rest of his life, loudly singing away with a toy in his mouth when we got home, or if he heard someone else talking to us on a Facetime or work chat. If he didn’t have a toy in his mouth, he’d smile and show all of his teeth in an awkward, growly  looking grin.

I don’t think he snuggled once until he was about 6 years old. When he first would come up to cuddle for a bit on my legs on the couch, it was amazing! He was always an ear lobe nibbler though. Always Jeff’s. He’d get up on Jeff on the arm chair, or pin him down in bed, and nibble on one ear, and then move Jeff’s chin the other way with his snout, and nibble on the other ear. So funny! Just like my first dogs, he made a snoring sound, when he wanted your attention, and if he wasn’t sleeping, he’d want your hands to be petting him.

As he aged, we finally got closer and closer. When I had surgery a few years ago and had to spend 8 weeks housebound, it was just Monty and I and really got in sync with each other. And more so, when I started working from home.

It was so hard to come in the door tonight without him. He’s everywhere in this small rental house. His fur is everywhere, his stuffed toys, and beds, and bowls. and leashes. His stuffed bunny toy was still lying on our bed from where he left it this morning. We have three full bags of his expensive food that we bought in bulk when we were in the city. We have bags of rawhides, and boxes of milkbones. It just feels so fast, and so sudden. I think we’re both feeling a little lost.

Here is a gallery of some photos I’ve shared of Monty here on my blog over the years.

I love you my sweet angel.