Last night, November 10th 2020 at 6:20 PM, my doggo, my best friend, my partner in crime for the past 13 years passed away quietly and peacefully wrapped in my arms.
To say I loved this dog would be an understatement. My whole life revolved around him, from the moment I woke up to the last walk before bedtime. Everything I needed to do involved some sort of thought about "Meezy".
From the moment we met back in October of 2007, there was a bond. I've always wanted a dog. Because of religious reasons, I couldn't have one growing up. When I was living on my own, my job had me away 15 days a month, so having one them was impossible. All of that changed when I met my now wife Sara. With her support, I was able to quit my job and go back to school. When I officially left my job, we started searching for a dog. We wanted a puppy and we wanted to adopt. Not an easy task if you want a breed that isn't some sort of Pitbull or Rottweiler.
One night while searching Petfinder, Sara came across this cute three-month-old puppy dog named "Butterball". He was at a rescue called Rescue Paws in Oceanview Oregon. He was a Red Aussie and Duck tolling retriever. He was around a six-hour drive south of us but we didn't mind in the least. At that time we had been going down to Cannon beach regularly to go surfing so we made a trip of it.
We drove down to meet "Butterball" and his brother "Bear" the following weekend. Sara firmly suggested we pick Butterball over Bear, and I complied eventually. That choice was the best thing ever. Seven days later, we drove down and picked him up and brought him home.
We named him Quagmire Patches MacGillycuddy. The name Quagmire came from the show Family Guy. It also another meaning. One of the definitions being "an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation" and you all know how much I love awkward. MacGillycuddy came from us drinking Dr MacGillycuddy's Fireball as we ripped out the carpet in the apartment we moved into so we could have a pet.
Over the next year, I was in school fulltime, rushing home to walk Q and rush back to school. It was stressful. It was all worth it. Once I finished school and landed my first job at Engine Digital in Vancouver life was pretty fantastic. I had this amazing girlfriend, I had this kick-ass job and I had Q.
When I first started my job, I got up early, walked him and then went to work. After being there a bit longer, I remember asking Stephen if it was okay to bring him to work. He told me it would be okay every once in a while. It started that way, but soon, Quagmire was there with me every single day. Stephen never made a big deal about it even though I knew it wasn't what he wanted. Stephen would tell me ahead of times if there was an important meeting where Quagmire shouldn't come rather than ever telling me not to bring him. I will always remember that kindness he showed me because having Quagmire with me at work, sleeping under my desk let me focus on work and never wonder if Quagmire was okay.
About nine months into life with Quagmire, he had his first seizure. If you know Vancouver well, you know we rarely get thunderstorms. One summer night, while Quagmire was sleeping on our balcony staying cool. There was a massive bang of thunder as though it was right above us. Quagmire started to awake and came running in looking for protection. Once he found Sara inside, he had his first episode. He then started having one a month, then once every couple weeks to almost weekly. Whenever he had one, it was always the same he wanted to be on me, wrapped in my arms. I would jump on the ground, wrap my legs and arms around him and stroke his head telling him he'd be okay until it passed.
Once we got him on his seizure medication, he went a very long time between any episodes. We were so thankful how well the medication was working for him. I started knowing the signs of oncoming seizures. It would begin with him walking just a little crooked, within a minute or two the episode would hit him. Every time they occurred, I'd sit down and wrap him up in my arms and comfort him until he was better. I've sat in the mud, on the side of the street. It didn't matter where the seizure hit him, all he wanted was to be wrapped up in my arms and laying on me.
With all of that, you could understand how grateful I was to be with him almost 24/7. It allowed me to be there for him every time he needed me.
Through those years, outside of the rare seizure, we had the most incredible life together. We went on countless snowboarding trips to Baker, and Whistler. As a puppy and through most of his time with us, he drew a lot of attention. When we went snowboarding in Whistler, he would spend the day at a doggy daycare. It was about a ten-minute walk from the lifts. I would bomb down the last run of the day ahead of whoever I was riding with to go get him. The walk back to the lifts to meet everyone would take about 30-45 minutes because EVERYONE had to say hello to him.
We went to Cannon Beach to surf. Camping trips, hikes any adventure we could bring him on. I used him as the reason to opt-out of social events. I used him as a reason to leave social events. He became my exit plan to find solitude and happiness.
I've battled with depression for a long time. I have impostor syndrome. I lack the fundamental self-confidence sometimes to support myself and not think the worst in every situation. So having Quagmire to talk to and walk with became my safe place. I would "force cuddle" with him, which he hated by the way, and bury my face in him and smell him and his corn-chip paws and feel better. There were some dark days when I would be in bed not wanting to get up. He would come and start pawing at me and grunting, dropping his toy on my face trying to get me to play with him until I finally couldn't resist his wagging tail and we'd go to the park or beach.
I became neurotic when we went away. Before kids, Sara and I would go on month-long trips. Due to the perks of my previous job, we were able to travel for next to nothing and fly anywhere in the world. That meant leaving Quagmire behind. At first, we had this incredible human, Kimberly as a neighbour. She had 2 dogs Quagmires age and to top it off, they loved to play together. Leaving him with her gave me so much peace of mind. I knew she would take care of him. They lived in the same building. It was the least amount of disruption to his daily life as it could have been. Eventually Kimberly moved into our old apartment, so when we left him with her and her boys, he was back in his first home.
Then when we moved, my brother would house sit and spend every waking moment with him. To this day, there are a handful of people Quagmire would go crazy when he saw, but the reaction for my brother was always the most dramatic grunt, tail wagging, headbutting and whine-fest I saw.
I would count down the days to these trips and then while on them, I would count down the days until I was back home with him. I just always wanted to be there for him. My whole existence revolved around being "with" him. He was my safe place, and I was his. I can't explain the bond or connection I had with him without being cliche, but I understood what he wanted from the way he looked at me.
He perfected the piercing stare and grunt. When he wanted to eat, when he wanted you to throw his toy, he would stare you down, grunt and paw at you. Once you made eye contact you were at his mercy. He had you. The eyebrow markings he had added to the drama of the stare. I'll never forget that stare.
Fast forward a few years, we had our first, Everett. Sara and I always wondered how this would work out. During the pregnancy, we had concerns about Quagmire. See Quagmire HATED kids. There were many times when a young child would see this "teddy bear" looking dog and approach him. That was met by a lunge and barking followed by Quagmire hiding behind my legs. He was just scared and wanted nothing to do with them. So you can imagine the concerns we had.
Everett ended up being an emergency c section which required a hospital stay for Sara. A friend had suggested that I bring something home to Quagmire from the delivery room with E's scent. So after he was born the next day, I went home with a blanket and left it on the couch for him. He sniffed it curiously and I hoped for the best. Three days later we finally got to bring E home. I was so excited and nervous about the reaction. Here I was with my other lifetime desire achieved, I was finally a dad and I was scared about what my doggo would do. I sat down on the couch and without any prompting, Quagmire jumped on to the couch and started to sniff and kiss Everett. I still remember the emotions that rushed through me. Relief. Love. We had our family together.
This new era of my life ushered in a new routine. I would take E and Q out every morning to let my wife sleep. I would wear E and go on hour-long hikes in North Vancouver. As E got older, that turned into a stroller walk and god-fucking-damn-it if another dog came anywhere near Everett in the stroller. Quagmire started to get defensive and stand between any dog and the stroller. It wasn't an ideal situation as you can imagine, but it showed his nature. He was protecting his own. He went from not letting a child near him to letting our kid ride him like a pony. He started to drop his ball at Everett's feet to play with him. Before my eyes, my Quagmire became the most incredible family dog.
Three years later, we had our second. Reid was greeted with the same level of interest and love. Sniffs and kisses. Quagmire could sense the vulnerable new life we brought home. But with Reid came a different dynamic. Reid LOVED Quagmire, his "Woof Woof". He would crawl/walk up to him and pat him and hug him. He would always ask me "Where woof woof" if I picked him up from daycare and Quagmire wasn't there. Don't get me wrong, Everett also loved Quagmire, he just didn't show the same level of interest or the amount of unpromoted affection towards Quagmire.
Quagmire became a fixture at the parks and around our neighbourhood events which involved dozens of kids. He walked Everett to school every morning where a handful of kids would greet him daily and come up and say hi to him. He became so good with kids.
This past Sunday was no different. A beautiful fall day here in Vancouver. Sun was shining. Crystal clear blue skies. We went to a neighbourhood park. We started driving places because Quagmire wasn't able to walk long distances. Once at the park, Quagmire had his beloved ball. We kicked it for him, he fetched. Everything was great. But later that afternoon, I noticed something in him had changed. He started to look at me with what felt a bit of desperation in his eyes. That night he ate his food but he didn't want to get up to come to get it. I helped him up and he went and had it.
Monday morning I got the same eerie feeling. Like every other day, I would go downstairs and make coffee and start breakfast and normally within a few minutes, I'd hear the familiar sounds of Quagmire coming down the stairs. That morning, he didn't come right away. I thought nothing of it and went to the fridge and got his food. The sound of me picking up his bowls and setting them down on the counter and fill his bowl with water normally was his cue to come down. I got his food ready, filled his bowl with water and set it down. Still, no sign of him coming. I went up to check on him, he was laying on our bed still just hanging out. I thought his hearing must be going and helped him off the bed and downstairs. He walked very slowly to his food and ate. That was the last time he ate.
I packed up the car, got the kids things for the day and get Quagmire into the car to head to daycare and school to drop the kids off. Normally when I arrive at Reid's daycare, he loses his mind barking because he's being left in the car and I'm leaving. That day he didn't make a sound. I opened the tailgate of the truck to check on him, he was just hanging out. I left the tailgate open and took Reid inside. I quickly got back to the car checked on Q again and then left to get Everett to school. The same thing would normally have happened as I backed into our spot in the school parking lot. Insane barking demanding to come with me wherever it was I was going but again, not a peep. I lifted the tailgate of my truck to get him. He didn't seem interested in walking today, but he eventually came. We walked across the field to Everett's class. The same 3-4 kids from neighbouring classrooms came to say hi to him and pet him. We dropped off E and walked around the school field path back to the car. A walk I've done hundreds and hundreds of times with him. That day was the last time we did that walk.
I then went home for my 9 AM Monday morning meeting. I noticed several times Quagmire was laying in a weird position and breathing heavily. I crouched down several times to pet him. By Noon that day, I knew the end was near for him. That night, he refused to eat his food. He refused to eat any salmon from our dinner. He wouldn't eat a treat, nothing. My heart sank. After dinner, Everett crouched down and sat under the table with Quagmire and pet him. I know he loves him but he's never done this kind of thing unprompted before. Maybe he picked up on the agony on my face? Soon Reid joined him and Sara pulled out her phone and captured the moment. Did they know?
After they went to bed, Sara and I had the difficult discussion, what should we do? I always swore to him that I'd never make him stay for me. My desire to be with him wasn't going to be a reason for him to stay. I'd never let him suffer. Was it time to make the call? I would hate to have to bring him to a vet or let a vet come to our home to do this. With his medical history, he knew when he was near a vet's office and would pull in any direction other than the vet's office door. He was so scared because of all the poking and prodding trying to diagnose his epilepsy, but I couldn't let him suffer. We found a vet that made house calls, and at 7 PM on the 10th he was going to come and check him out and help him rest.
My work (thank you Brendan and Branick) let me take the day off yesterday. I got to spend the whole day with Quagmire. I lay in the back of my truck at one of his favourite parks for hours. He watched these ducks dare to walk near him, he couldn't chase them off this time. I called my brother to tell him the news. I didn't think it would be fair for me to not give him a chance to see him and say goodbye. He came and spent some precious moments with us. Quagmire had a lucid moment and realized who was there, but the reaction wasn't the normal grunting or high pitched whining. So heartbreaking.
Quagmire was starting to shiver so I wrapped him in my jacket and blanket in the back and quickly got him home to get comfortable. I knew there was zero chance he'd make it to the vet appointment. I was hoping for him that he wouldn't have to deal with another vet, not today.
We got comfortable on a commandeered elephant plush toy that became a day bed for him. I lay there with him for hours, stroking his head telling him how much I loved him and how he was "okay". All the things I muttered into his ear when he had his seizures. He would have panting fits but he would get a good 30-45 minute chunk of time of sleep and rest which was so good to see. I knew he was suffering but seeing him sleeping felt to me like he was at least comfortable from time to time.
My wife came home early from work. She picked up the kids and they had an early dinner. The plan was to have them say goodbye and head up to bed before the vet. They said their goodbyes. I cried but I knew it was his time. I could see the suffering in his eyes. They went upstairs to play and have their bath and I stayed downstairs, on the ground laying beside him trying to do everything I could to remember the good times. I Knew this was the right thing, but I had to keep convincing myself it was. I had to help him in any way he needed like I always have.
About 10 minutes after the last goodbyes, I noticed him try to get up. I thought he was maybe hot cause he'd been sleeping on the elephant plush toy. Then I noticed him try again, so I got up and helped him stand up and then cleared his path thinking he wanted to go to a cooler spot on the floor. When I turned back from clearing all the toys and obstacles in his way, I saw him just standing there. Looking at me. I immediately knew what he wanted. I sat down right there, spread my legs and my arms and said. "Come here good boy come". He did, he rushed over to me, curled up in my arms and lay his head down on my leg like he had so so many times before but this time, he looked up at me and took his last breaths. I sat there and helped him cross that rainbow bridge and felt every emotion at the same time. I was so grateful to have been there with him. I was grateful to have had him go on his terms. I was able to be there for him one last time.
Today is the first day in over thirteen years that I woke up without him. The first time knowing he wasn't around. The first time I wasn't going to see him at the end of a trip I was on. He was gone, resting peacefully and squishing his orange ball on a beach up in heaven.
Thank you, Quagmire. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. I know you will forever be looking down from heaven and keeping a close eye on our family and making sure everyone is safe and together as you always did. You will always be in my thoughts. I pray to feel you walking with me again, to feel that simple joy of just walking with you. Rest in peace, my dear friend.