Ode to our luck dragon, RIP

We had to put our luck dragon down this weekend.

Technically he was a dog, but because of his looks/personality/somewhat dragon-like behavior, both good and bad, both my husband and I thought of him more as a luck dragon, or some kind of wild, tame-but-not-domesticated animal. Our code name for him was even Falcor, like after the luck dragon in the Never Ending Story. The two of them could easily have been the same species. When we would go on hikes early on, we would let him off lead and he would just run straight up the mountain, run down to check in on us, then run back up, over and over until he had covered at least three times as much terrain as us. One time we let him off in a mountain meadow that stretched at least a mile down the mountainside. He took off chasing a marmot or squirrel or something, until all we could see was a white speck dancing in the red and green blueberry bushes and shrubbery. He looked so natural out there, like a wolf or coyote. But his wild side wasn’t all good and majestic. He had actually bitten a few people, including us, which made us doubt he should even be around when Ziggy was born. But he was a part of the pack, and we loved him, and everybody else who met him loved him, saying what a beautiful dog he was, both in looks and how he carried himself. Even the people he bit would often say it was their fault and try to make amends with him; Falcor would always immediately apologize too.

We had hoped to rehome him or let him stay exclusively in the back yard, or some other choice. Unfortunately that was not meant to be.

We were out hiking on my husband Kier‘s family property, and while running up a muddy hill Falcor blew out the ACL of his left knee. He had already had the ACL of his right knee partially torn, and after more than $3,000 and a year and a half of rehab, he had been moving okay and with a doggie leg brace he could even go play with other dogs for short periods. But we had been warned that his left knee going was a strong possibility, and boy went it went it WENT! Like totally, utterly, completely, lower leg practically dangling off his knee joint.

We knew there was no way we could a) afford surgery or another round of rehab, b) had time to do rehab, nor was it humane to Falcor to spend another 1.5 years with heavily restricted movement, c) especially with our first baby on the way, and d) there was a high likelihood the first knee would go out again due to the new stress, and e) even if we could do all of those things, he still had the history of aggression we were concerned about. Since we had been warned that this injury was a strong possibility, we also already knew in the back of our minds that we may have to make the choice to put him down; in fact when Kier called the vet he told him as much. It was just hard because it was so sudden; literally injury at 5:00pm, gone by 8:00pm. We did get a chance to say good-bye to him while we waited for the sedative to kick in before the final shot was administered, but it was brief and short and quick and so sudden we could barely prepare. Kier cried horribly, while I tried to stay stoic and cried silently partially to stay strong for Kier but partially because I knew that crying freaked Falcor out; he would always go hide on his bed or in my bedroom when I cried. But man did I cry later that night.

On the plus side, Falcor had probably had one of the best afternoons of his life right before the injury, playing with other dogs and hiking in the woods. But we really wanted/hoped for so much more for him, and after working so hard to give it to him it feels like a huge defeat. He was only 5 years old, he had been abused as a puppy and went kennel crazy while waiting to be adopted, and no matter how much we worked with him there was always just a little bit of the wild crazies left in him. We probably extended his life three times as long as anybody else would have; the Humane Society was this close to putting him down before we got him. But in some ways it just doesn’t feel fair.

He was a part of our pack, and even though I know it really was the best decision, it was by no means the easiest decision. Another reason it hurts is when I was born my parents owned a wonderful, big luck-dragon type dog with the same name (not Falcor, his real name), and in some way I’m sad our first born child won’t get to spend the early years of her life with that dog’s energy. Kier is uncharacteristically getting all mystic and saying in some way it feels like the universe is balancing things out, like Falcor had to leave our lives before our daughter could enter it, and his spirit can support her and protect her in ways he couldn’t do in corporeal form. I’m not there yet. I’m just sad and struck with guilt, like I should have played with him more or done more rehab on his knees or let him eat more cookies or whatever.

So as I sit here in a second temporary abode that I spent weeks tracking down, trying to find a place that would take a dog where we could keep him secluded in case he got more wild than usual, and that we could afford, sitting here without him just feels wrong, and makes me angry. I also feel weird knowing that for the first time in two years, and really four years, I don’t have to rush home and take Falcor out on a walk, or wake up and steel myself for a giant fur ball that is SO EXCITED that I’m up and we’re going to go on a walk RIGHT NOW! Woof woof! I actually liked his enthusiasm, and I enjoyed that guaranteed combined 40 minutes to an hour a day of walking around the neighborhood, seeing what was going on in the world and keeping track of neighbors in a friendly way. I didn’t go on a walk this morning, but I may continue to do so just because I really like that little bit of exercise first thing in the morning; it’s a good way to wake up, get a sense of the day’s weather, and let the fog clear from my brain and eyes a little bit before I put my contacts in. Since I’m pregnant walking is good exercise for me anyway. It’ll just feel weird without Falcor.

We are dog people and will more than likely get another dog in the next couple of years, but he was our first dog, and to have it end this way is just not what we wanted. We loved him dearly and are sad to see him go. We love you Falcor.

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