Sharav was already starting to go gray when we lived in New York between 2013 and 2017.
He first started slowing down in a noticeable way around the time of our move back to New York in 2018, taking up residence in our old neighborhood.
There was no way that I could take him on ten-mile walks anymore, but two one-mile walks remained our daily standard, and on weekends we often went out for much longer.
Over time, I noticed that he was not as good with his food anymore, so I started soaking it in water and serving it to him in mushy form. He didn’t seem to like his metal bowls as much, so I switched them for plastic bowls. Any deviations from his normal meals, even a bone to chew on, started to give him diarrhea.
I noticed that he would get worn out much more quickly when playing with other dogs, conserving his energy and letting puppies run circles around him – like he used to do with older dogs when he was a puppy.
In spring 2022, Sharav started finding it really hard to do our standard one-mile walks. I scaled back the distance for him, and then scaled it back again.
He also could no longer reliably keep pace off-leash anymore, so to my extreme regret, I started taking him out on a leash.
He began having more accidents at home, so I added a third short walk for him every day, in the afternoons.
Despite living in New York for most of my adult life, and having lived right next to Green-wood Cemetery for over a year, I had never actually been inside it – dogs are against cemetery rules, and walking for pleasure, exercise and relaxation was something that we shared together, so it had never occurred to me to walk there by myself, leaving Sharav at home.
There were many times in Sharav’s last year that it was a major burden and struggle for him just to make it 100 feet to the street corner, when I took him out three or more times per day for his bathroom breaks.
In the months before he died, I sometimes found it difficult to convince him to get out of bed for his walks.
The accidents at home also continued and increased, and I’m pretty glad that I had an in-unit washer and dryer for his last year, since there was a lot of cleaning involved.
He also drooled quite a bit.
Wednesday 26 July 2023 was a really rough day.
Sharav had an accident overnight, so in the morning, I had to wash him outside with a hose and towel him off, and then launder the towels and his soiled mattress.
I could barely get him to eat or go to the bathroom.
I spent much of the day lifting him up in my arms and carrying him out to the sidewalk six, eight, ten times, but he had simply lost all of his energy and will.
By nightfall, as I began to grow tired, I understood that Sharav and I had reached the end of our time together, and the last thing I told him was how much I loved him and how much he meant to me.
When I woke up the next morning, he was gone.