It snuck up on me, Desmond's last day. He was fine in the morning and at dinner time, but when I got home from NM's house, he couldn't put weight on one of his front legs. I felt it up and down and nothing made him wince. I thought it would get better, like so many other times, but overnight he developed a fever and the shakes, and whined from pain, and couldn't get up at all. I gave him a painkiller, and then another one an hour later and when morning came I made the appointment.
I wasn't this prepared last April, when Desmond had his last health emergency. I ran him to the vet for blood tests and xrays and poking and prodding and a very expensive operation to remove a cancerous spleen. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to this old dog and spent a LOT more money than I could afford just to buy more time. I swore I wouldn't let feelings of guilt keep Desmond alive when/if it was time for him to go and prayed to be able to see when it was time.
So I watched over the months as Desmond became less able to navigate the two steps into my country house. Started to soak his food when the dry foot hurt his teeth. Added canned food when the wet/dry food didn't taste good enough. Picked him up when he fell in the snow and cleaned up after him when he pooped and peed inside. He was still happy to go outside and stand for a few minutes, and still had a healthy appetite. But somehow I knew that last night was different, and it was time to let him go. I was prepared this time and in the end it wasn't as hard as I imagined. I'm sad because I miss him, but happy because he's running in heaven now, and all his pains are gone.