**5May2004**: It's a glorious spring day here in the Kansas City area, but it's a diffcult one. We put Damon, our dog of 14 years, down today. These lyrics come to mind: <blockquote> Good bye my friend it's hard to die, / when all the birds are singing in the sky / now that the spring is in the air / pretty girls are ev'ry where, / think of me and I'll be there. <address><a href="http://www.lyricsstyle.com/w/westlife/seasonsinthesun.html">seasons in the sun</a></address> </blockquote> Damon was about six weeks old when she came to live with Mary, who named her after a legendary loyal friend: <blockquote> According to Greek legend, Damon and Pythias were friends who lived on Syracuse in the 4th century BC. When Pythias was sentenced to death, he was allowed to temporarily go free on the condition that Damon take his place in prison. Pythias returned just before Damon was to be executed in his place, and the king was so impressed with their loyalty to one another that he pardoned Pythias. <address><a href="http://www.behindthename.com/nmc/gre-myth.html">behind the name</a></address> </blockquote> That was the spring of 1990; in December that year, Mary and Damon met Dan. Damon was a lab/chow mix. As a lab, she loved to fetch. We used to throw sticks out into the lake in Austin for her to fetch -- the bigger the better, as far as she was concerned. She once picked up a log only a little smaller than herself and made it clear that she wanted to fetch it. She was a wonderful frisbee dog; I have never seen another dog judge a frisbee in the wind as well as Damon. <a href="http://dm93.org/y2003/030116snow/Pages/Image10.html"><img src="http://dm93.org/y2003/030116snow/Thumbnails/10.jpg" align="right"/></a>She loved to play in the snow, too. She's the black one: As a chow, she was a faithful guardian. She helped Mary feel secure when Dan travelled. Once, when we were living in an apartment in Arlington, MA, a repair man came to fix the handle on the stove. Mary was pregnant with Justin at the time. Damon made it clear to the repair man that he was not to mess with Mary: she sat between Mary and the repair man the entire time. That winter was difficult for her. We had no yard, and she was inside a lot. When winter turned to spring, I broke out the frisbee perhaps a bit too soon. She twisted her knee. That was the beginning of her decline. In the past few years, her favorite game of fetch has become more and more difficult for her. She gets frustrated as Bo streaks after the ball while she can barely trot. She cannot lift herself into the car. Watching her go up and down stairs is agonizing. She has lumps on her chest; a big one grew rather suddenly on one of her feet. Her bark has gone hoarse, and her breathing is labored. Two weeks ago, after talking about putting her down "one of these days" for several months, we started to talk seriously about it. We decided to watch her closely for a week to judge her quality of life. During that week, I threw a ball for her to fetch and she just didn't get up. She was constantly panting with that labored breath. The signs were clear, and Mary and I agreed I should arrange to have her put down. I found it somewhat difficult to act. Like many burdensome tasks, the job of making the appointment didn't get done until Mary and I were both there to do it. This morning, I took Damon to Animal Haven alone, and sat with her as she was put down. Animal Haven offered to dispose of the body, but Mary and I decided it's best for the boys that the see her body buried. Digging the grave was somewhat cathartic; it gave a channel for some of the grief. Writing this has a similar effect. But lest I leave you heavy of heart, recall that today is a glorious day, and Damon had a good long run. Goodbye, Damon.