After gracing planet Earth for 13 years, 2 months and 5 days, our beloved chocolate brown Lab, Morton, crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. This dog was special beyond words and truly the embodiment of an Angel in dog clothes. The decision to euthanize him was a tough one, but Jason and I both listened to Morton and we know that the time was right.
Jason and Morton shared a bond of unconditional love that is so rare and precious. It transcended a dog/owner relationship and connected them at a heart level in such a beautiful way. Morton was there beside Jason through some tough times. I believe the dog command to 'heel', meaning to walk beside, has a dual meaning to 'heal'. Sometimes life can be lonely and hard and you really really need someone to walk with down a scary path.
I remember about 7 years ago when I met Jason joking to my friends that I think he likes me because I look like his dog - with my 'chocolate-brown' hair and brown eyes! The first time I came to Jason's house in Olathe, Morton came trotting up to me around the car and I was like "Whoa!" He really was a BIG animal with a strong wide chest and an intent look on his face. I think he knew something was up and I was getting involved with his 'Dad' because he was definitely checking me out. Morton would read people, always determining who was top dog, and who just thought they were. He was not an alpha, but he was a strong beta. We hit it off right away and we forged a wonderful relationship.
Times changed of course. Jason and I got married, combined our dog family and then had babies. Morton made all of these transitions gracefully, sweetly witnessing the ups and downs, challenges and milestones. He did have some interesting phases, like his rebellious phase where he was trying to escape from the yard and go to the park by himself. He went through a brief grumpy old man phase too. Honestly, for the most part he was right there by our side, laying down nearby - it feels and sounds eerily quiet now at the house because we can't hear Morton's breathing, sighing, collar rattling and so on.
Morton started losing ground health-wise about 2 months ago, but he rallied in early July and was able to join us on our annual summer Colorado trip which was the best time we've ever had out their since the kids were born. Morton came pretty much everywhere with us and he also participated in the 'camping' event where Jason and the kids slept on the porch in sleeping bags! The next to the last day, we went on an intense hike/fishing trip and Morton was definitely pushed to his limit and beyond, but why not? We figured it would be his last hike, we all made it out alive and it further bonded us as a family.
Though we knew the day was coming to euthanize him, it still hit like a ton of bricks when the decision was finally made. Morton would struggle pretty much non-stop through the night and then be better during the day. After several days of this, Jason got the signal that he was ready to go. I had been walking him around the block each morning and night for the last several weeks as part of our hospice routine, so I took him for a round and heard the same message.
I also heard some stuff that, whether it came from him or what, doesn't matter to me. Love is never lost it is only transformed. When times get tough, focus on the blessing that our relationship has been. It is impossible to feel truly thankful and blessed and bad or sad in the same moment. The energy of thankfulness trumps those other emotions. Finally, make the most of the time you have and never squander or withhold love. Life is too short. Love is the most important thing so do not lose sight of that.
Olivia and Quinn both had a sweet relationship with Morton, and I know they will miss him greatly. Olivia in particular will be grieving this loss a lot. I'm glad they got to learn more about death and the permanence of it through witnessing this. Last night before bed, Olivia wanted to pray for Morton so we sat in a circle and each said something about Morton and how much we love, miss and appreciate him.
* Morton playing in the water at Mother's Rest in Colorado. This is where his ashes will be spread.
Love always, Claire