Back in 2006, I was finishing up nursing school, planning my wedding, and living with a boy for the first time. It seemed like a month before our wedding was a great time to get our first pet together…a little black mutt who we named Otto Graham (that boy was a Cleveland Browns fan).
Fast forward almost twelve years, and that mutt and I had been through six years of marriage, my eventual divorce, a move into an apartment complex, the buying of my first house, and my entire (so far) nursing career. Sadly, Otto’s time on this earth came to an end two days ago, when I had to let my Best Boy go.
I could recount for you endless moments from his life that would illustrate this dog’s enormous personality. Back in the early days, he would eat anything…shoes, baseball caps, walls. He was never trustworthy off-leash. He loved people food and got the last bite of almost anything I ate in his presence. Most of those memories, however, I am going to hold close to my heart, which is just where Otto will always be.
Otto’s sudden decline over the weekend was both surprising and expected. I had long hoped that I would know when it was time to let him go and that I would not make him stick around this world for me when the quality of his life became less. I had struggled with the thought of staying with him as he crossed over to the other side. I wanted my face to be the last face he saw, but I wasn’t sure that I was strong enough to stay by his side. I didn’t know what I was going to do without him. He had been with me for so long, but it is never long enough. That’s the only downside I can see to sharing your life with a pet.
Otto’s vet has emergency Sunday hours, so we were able to go somewhere that was familiar to him and sit together and spend last moments together before it was time to say goodbye. An ultrasound showed an enormous tumor on his liver, untreatable and likely making him uncomfortable. I always knew that when his eyes no longer smiled at me, it would be time to do this. He looked at me, and I saw love in his eyes but no smile. He looked tired, and I knew it was time to make this impossible decision. I sat on the floor rubbing the soft fur around his ears as he very peacefully slipped from this life to the next. And although not having him by my side is more difficult that I could ever imagine, I am so thankful for the almost-twelve years we had together.
I will love and miss you forever, my Best Boy.
Otto Graham Casey
June 30, 2006, to May 13, 2018