My parents put down their Great Pyrenees yesterday. He had cancer in the joint of his left front leg.
We got him almost six years ago. I had already moved back in with my parents when I found out I was pregnant with a girl. My dad, realizing that he would be the only male in a house with (soon to be) four female humans and two female dogs, decided to find a boy dog to help him stave off the estrogen.
He found Bear through a rescue program. The story goes that there were several other families that wanted to adopt Bear that day, but when my dad saw him, he knelt down so they were at eye level and Bear came right up to him, and the rescue people knew my dad was the one who should take him home.
We used to joke that Bear would be the dog that Joley could ride, and in fact, he was the only one of the three that tolerated her babyness without complaint. He watched out for her more than the others.
He drooled constantly. He was so stubborn that we could never cure him of his deep, slow barking. And he was huge and lumbering, and when he'd just been groomed his fur looked and felt like a marshmallow cloud. He had tiny soft triangles for ears and big droopy jowls, and he was incredibly strong.
I loved him. And the worst part, besides feeling like I've lost some bulwark in the world, is feeling like his life could have ended differently. That better choices could have been made.
It didn't hit me until today. I kept hoping that my parents had changed their minds and decided to amputate the leg instead of putting him down. Then, moments ago, an image of his huge carcass on its side, somehow deflated to only skin and bone and wiry hair, floated to the surface of my mind. And now I can't help but face the fact that everything that was Bear is gone.
He was a good dog, and I miss him terribly.