Led Zeppelin, Zeppelin The Grey, or Zeppy.

It's taken me over a month, but it's time.

Led Zeppelin, or "Zeppy", our Greyhound, passed away on Labor Day (he was the "Lead Reporter" on this site). He was just shy of 9 years old. It's hard to put into words the first time you have the opportunity and responsibility of giving your friend the last gift you can give them - the gift of taking away their pain.

He jumped off the couch to greet us when we got back from celebrating Labor Day with friends. When he jumped off the couch, I heard a crack, and saw his leg was broken. It was then that I knew that Zep was going to Angell Memorial, and not coming home. I am not a vet, as I say often on this blog - but I worked with a lovely woman who adopted many greyhounds over my time working for her, and knowing her after my employment at that hospital ended. She should be the saint of Greyhounds, because she adopted older Greys, loved them, many times for a short while, until they would get bone cancer and pass on. It broke her heart every time because she loved those dogs with every ounce of her being, and when we got Zeppelin, I knew we'd be saying goodbye in a similar fashion. We just thought it would be later.

When it's your dog, you always think it's "later".

My dear friend (and Zep's vet) drove my husband and Zeppy to the hospital, and I met them after I fed our baby. I wanted them to say "Nope - clumsy Greyhound Syndrome - he's patched up and ready to go!", but the clinical signs were there. I just knew, and I never in my life wanted to be so wrong.

We went into the room, Zeppy got to hang out with us. He was in so much pain, but he still tried his best to come over to us. We lay him down on a blanket, the Emergency Vet met us in the room, and Zep put his head in my lap. My husband talked to him, pet his head and shoulder while the medication started to numb his pain. I saw into his eyes, and saw relief.

Often, we put human terms and feelings onto our dogs. I know what I saw, and I saw an animal who wasn't hurting for the last minute of his life.

He looked at me, he signed a big sigh, lay his head on my lap, and fell asleep.

There is no way to ask our pets if they want to go on living, or if they want us to end their suffering. We can't ask them "hey, you have maybe 6 months to a year to live, but we have to take your leg. What do you think?" We can only do our best, as we always do the best for our animals. We might not be able to give them the best quality food, but we can give them the best we can afford. We might not be able to let them off leash, but we can find ways to let them be dogs. We might make them live indoors instead of rolling in the dirt, but we find ways to enrich their lives, and in return for all we ask of them, they give us loyalty, affection, and sad puppy dog eyes. They keep our feet warm, and our houses safe from intruders. They give  us funny stories, and occasional stains on the carpet (or in Zeppy's case, the fake Christmas Tree because he thought that meant he had indoor privileges).

They give us an opportunity to connect, to be responsible for something else, and to be more human. In Zep's case, he taught me how to take a chill pill and relax.

I have no idea what Zeppelin would have wanted, but I do not regret the decision we made. I think back to the horrible sound of his bones cracking, his howling, and his uncontrollable panting - and then I think of his head relaxing, his eyes looking directly into mine, and a sigh of relief. We made that decision for Zep, and I'm not sure I'd make it for every dog we have, but I do think it was the right call for him.

That doesn't mean it's an easy call, and it doesn't mean it's the right call for every dog. But for him, for us, and for the facts on the table, we did what we thought was right for him.

We did the best we could, Buddy. We did the best we could.

Rest in peace, Zep. And keep an eye on my friend Paul. He's the guy playing the piano by the fireplace.

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