We lost Chester yesterday. Recall it was about 12 months ago he’d injured himself during the Anchorage Snowpocalypse of 2022. Eventually he recovered well enough to enjoy the quality of life he deserved, limited yes but overall he’d been doing pretty well since then. All of a sudden this past Monday while out on an ordinary walk in the woods I noticed his rear gait appeared awkward, he was struggling to support his weight and walk straight. HW and I were concerned, so we looked for a shortcut back to the car. We got him gingerly up the ramp into the back seat and drove home. We gave him a prednisone but by evening he was no better, his right rear leg was useless to carry his weight. Thankfully, though, he wasn’t in any demonstrable pain. Tuesday morning we took him to the vet where HW and I had to carry him in on his bed. The vet confirmed his rear spine was inflamed and likely impinging on the nerve that supports control of his hindquarter, similar diagnosis as last year when this happened. He recommended a treatment course of prednisone, but cautioned us that this may be a more severe problem related to a bulging disk, something prednisone treatment wouldn’t correct. So we started him on the treatment Tuesday night and hoped. His condition worsened. Wednesday night was very hard and by Thursday morning he’d very obviously lost support of both rear legs. He couldn’t walk. HW had to rig two scarves into a sling which she used just to get him outside and back into the house. You could see the confusion on his face, not knowing what happened to him. Surgery was not an option. By Thursday afternoon it was clear we had to let him go.

No science will ever convince me that the anguish of loss is an illusion. We’ve been here before. It sucks. It hurts. It’s real. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go home without him so we threw some stuff in a suitcase and headed out of town to a place where we can grieve.