We got Titan when he was 12 weeks old. He was a beautiful dog. A purebred husky, with one brown eye and one blue and his fur was a silky, snow-white. He was placid and calm, the complete opposite of what a Husky usually is.
This all changed when we took him to the vets for the first time. When the vet jabbed him with the needle, he whined and became skittish. But all seemed to have been forgotten when we took him to the park afterwards. He ran around for an hour chasing sticks, balls, and pretty much anything that moved.
Life was great with Titan around. We had him about two years before my wife fell pregnant. It was like he knew. Even before she began to show. He would snuggle up on the sofa with her and rest his chin on her stomach. Sometimes he would turn his head sideways and it looked like he was listening to the baby growing inside her.
When our daughter was born, we were a little cautious. A fully grown husky isn’t exactly small, and he never seemed to have grown out of his puppy phase. He was full of energy and stupidly clumsy.
We placed Penny inside her crib, which was downstairs during the day so I could work from home and keep an eye on her while she slept and played. Titan became curious and stuck his nose through the bars, and Penny grabbed his snout with her iron-like baby grip. He yelped slightly and pulled away. I reacted, probably too harshly, and shouted at Titan. I told him he was a bad dog. He wasn’t. He was never a bad dog.
After he had sulked for a bit, he came back and I let him sniff Penny through the bars under my supervision. When I was happy he wasn’t going to hurt her I left him to his own devices.
Over the years, as Penny grew, her and Titan were inseparable. When she began to crawl, Titan would play chase with her, letting her get close to his tail before running off a few feet ahead and letting her catch up on hands and knees. They both seemed to love it. They were having the best days of their lives.
Penny got older, and began to walk, and their chasing game became even more erratic. Having a hyperactive husky wasn't enough it seems. Now I had a toddler running at the speed of light after a husky going the same speed. But Titan would always watch out for her, making sure she never got hurt.
I remember Penny’s 16th birthday party. Titan was getting old now, almost 18 years old. The oldest dog I've ever known. His whiskers were greying and his back legs were on the way out. We hid medicine in his food to help with his joint pain and arthritis. All of Penny’s friends gave the old boy a fuss before they left. When they had all gone, I went into the kitchen to start with the washing up, a formidable pile after a group of 16 year olds had been here most of the day.
Penny was sitting under the stairs, in Titan’s little dog cave that was his home. She was sobbing and cuddling him. I hadn’t told her what was going to happen soon, but she knew. They had been inseparable since the day she was born, and now it was time for them to part ways.
We booked an appointment with the vets for a few weeks time. I struggled with that phone call. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.
On the day of the appointment, we took Titan to the park. His favourite park. He played and chased and relaxed in the sun. Penny following him everywhere, and Titan following her. When he began to slow down and clearly in pain from his aching joints, we left.
The waiting room was empty besides us. The vet called us in. Penny was already in tears, she had been the moment we got in the car and left the park. She knelt down and cuddled Titan with all her might. Her tears trickled onto his fur and glistened. She said her goodbyes and we followed the vet into the room.
I lied. The phone call wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve had to do. This was. I wasn’t going to be one of those people who let their dog get put down and not stay in the room because the pain was too much. I wanted him to see me before he went to sleep forever. I wanted him to be calm and happy, and know how much I loved him.
As the vet put the anesthesia into the syringe and plunged it down, I began to cry. I looked my gorgeous boy in the eye and ruffled his fur. His eyes began to blink slowly, and just before he shut them one last time, I told him I loved him, and how much of a good boy he was. I could have sworn he smiled that stupid grin he always seemed to have, and shut his eyes.