After struggling with the lameness and later neuropathy of his right front leg, we let Ben go.
Just before Christmas, a lump that had been no larger than a large lima bean grew to the size of a small peach. Our vet removed as much of it as he could, but it fell apart and was pretty much everywhere. The histopathology report told us it was an aggressively malignant tumor.
Ben rallied after surgery. He was able to dart up and down the steps, albeit three-legged as he still had no function of his right front leg. But I saw him use that leg to wipe his face, and could even coax him to shake with it if the bribe was sufficient. It lasted less than a week.
He went downhill from there, and much too fast for us to process. But when he was no longer able to move more than three steps (and those 3 steps took forever) without collapsing, and picking him up was no longer much of an option as it made him whine, we knew it was time to let him go.
Ben, you were the absolute kindest, sweetest dog I have ever had the priviledge of knowing. You loved me with all your heart and I hope I returned even a portion of that to you. Run free, my friend. You deserve peace and the only grace that was truly mine to give you.
You have a new yard tonight. Keep it free of squirrels.