Haku Passes

I’m writing this near the end of January 2022 after an emotionally mountainous couple of months. 

Turns out the Air Bnb we stopped in to avoid the building work was good enough, but not ideal. It served the purpose to stay out the way and enable the work on the house to be done quickly which was good, but being so close to what turned out to be a fast main road, was not good for any of our mental states.

I can’t blame the house, because it’s as close to the road as a load of other properties up and down the country that people live in just fine. But we are used to living up a private drive, a good 50m away from the nearest road that people drive (relatively) carefully down. So when your showering butt naked in a wobbly wooden house, literally 1m from a skip lorry barrelling along at 60mph… you just can’t fully unclench…

Anyway, rant over, the house did its job and I had to head back up to Scotland to work for a week and left Aimi, Kayto and Haku to get on with life. It was a bit of a bump back to reality but as a Responsible Adult™ you get on with it. Haku on the other hand is about 13 years old and maybe the upper end of that too, so he doesn’t settle into a rhythm very easily.

While on holiday, they were both in the kennels. They are both obviously happy to see us when we return, but also always happy to go in there and start barking at everyone. However while in there, Haku doesn’t eat much (or Kayto snaffles it all the porky git) so as we sort of expected, came out looking a little skinny. 

The Air Bnb allowed dogs and while interested to sniff around at first, he didn’t settle in. Haku doesn’t have a bed that he goes to that smells like him, so we guessed he just didn’t know where to settle and being so old, he couldn’t work it out. He would pace around at night, bumping into things and digging at the carpet (something he’s not done in 2 years since we moved to Oakamoor) Then the addition of the road noise he’s not used to shaking the house… it was not ideal, but it was only for a couple weeks. 

He was also poorly in the house. He threw up unexpectedly so we took him to the vets and saw he had lost something like 8kg in about 6 weeks… This wasn’t a good sign. Rapid weight loss like that mostly happens when something seriously sinister is going on inside. We had a difficult chat about likely outcomes. We could do a load of tests and then maybe find something to treat and/or operate on. Or. Take the difficult decision to give him an easy final rest.

At last the house was done and we moved back in. No carpet upstairs, but after some cleaning and moving stuff around, it was home again, if not perfectly homely. Kayto just mooched around totally not bothered by anything whereas Haku seemed happier but still not right. A few days later and he still wasn’t eating much. Treats would get him to eat, and then next day they wouldn’t. Smelly sprat fishes worked for a while, and then he left them. After a couple days of not even touching his normal food and not pooping, we tried him on sausages which he liked… next day, turned his nose up. Finally we cooked fresh chicken for him. Kayto was literally sitting in a puddle of his own drool and while Haku had 1 or 2 bits, he still wasn’t very interested. Next day he turned it down. The vets were booked for tomorrow and we both sort of knew where this was going. 

That night while Aimi was getting ready for bed, Haku was laying at the foot of the mattress (on the floor because we had not moved stuff back upstairs yet waiting for the carpets to be installed) . I had my head right up next to his and was just stroking his head gently and kissing his chops. I could see he was winding down and this was likely the last time we would be together. I spoke to him and said how good he was and how much we both loved him. How I wish we could just snap our fingers and make him better, or he could tell us what was wrong so we could fix it. Aimi has had you for so long and given you an amazingly good life, but you were the first dog(s) I ever lived with. For nearly 4 years now you’ve been plodding around and bouncing at our games and chasing kayto when he gets the zoomies. I spoke softly to him and pleaded with him to eat and poop and get stronger, but he just looked back at me and sighed. I sort of knew at that point that he wasn’t going to carry on. Likely the vet would help him rest tomorrow and that would be that. I spoke to him just before Aimi came down and thanked him for looking after her and how lucky I was to be welcomed into the family. I asked if he could do anything it would be to pass peacefully and naturally in his sleep that night. It was awful, but I hoped he would listen and feel comfy enough to go without Aimi having to literally sign on the dotted line. 

Unfortunately / fortunately we got another morning with him and had a very slow walk around the field at the bottom of the hill. I tried to take some photos but he was stubborn as ever and just refused to look in the camera. We both just felt on the brink of tears and didn’t talk much.

The vets gave us the diagnosis that we expected.

Haku was put to sleep on 26/11/21 

It’s only been in the last month or so, as memories have come up on Facebook timeline with videos of how Haku used to be that we have looked back, and with hindsight, can see he actually dropped pretty steeply off a health cliff edge. When we were in it, seeing him every day, the decline seemed gradual and just the normal passing of time as a dog gets old. But, it was only in September that we have videos of him dancing around and chasing the flashy ball playing like the overgrown puppy he was most of his life. We have gone back and forth over whether it was the right thing to put him in kennels and go on holiday, when he was slowing down. But he wasn’t unhappy and there was nothing obvious at the time that stood out to change our plans. Life goes on and you deal with what comes your way when it presents itself. He was 13 and maybe nearly 14, which is a grand old age for a large dog. 

Could we have gone thru lots of stressful tests to find out, maybe if something might be able to be done, at great expense, risk and debilitatingly invasive surgery? Yes – but the quality of life would just have been shit, what little we might have been able to extend it, and we would still have come back to the terrible decision in a week, or months time. It was really hard for me, but crippling for Aimi. The grief is just physically painful and completely unavoidable, no matter what you do. It has lessened over time, but still pangs of pain grip my stomach occasionally when I miss-speak about taking the dogs (plural) for a walk…

During my chat with Haku I told him that I had proposed to Aimi and wanted to make our family official. Part of me hopes that he understood and that his sigh was relief that he could pass over care of Aimi to someone else. He was such a good boy, and I miss him a lot. He will be missed at our wedding, our beautiful Haku.

There are so many photos of us all together, but here are just a few notable ones.

One of the first dates I had with Aimi was to a field with a view outside of Banbury with the boys
Just one of the beautiful walks we all did together.
This is the best photo we ever got of our fluffy family taken in Oct 2021.
Notice that Haku is stubbornly not looking at the camera as usual.
I literally had to take 20 photos and hold his head up to get this one good one!
Our last night with Haku and the last photo I ever took of him during our heart to heart