Saturday, April 23, 2011

Puppy Love

I remember always wanting a dog.  I didn't get one until I was in the 8th grade.  When we did finally welcome a canine critter into the family, he was already an oldster.  We didn't have him for too long, by the grace of God he passed away on his own one day, crushing me in a way I hadn't yet felt in my life.

Shortly after we buried Tippy, we were presented with the opportunity to look after some "foster dogs" while their "foster home" people were out of town.  These dogs were about three years old, litter mates and from a sketchy background.  They had clearly had bad experiences with brooms, because sweeping near them sent them into a pitiful upset.  We determined that they must've been hit as well, since when we would have any wavy hand movements near them they would cower and move away, tail between their legs.  Their foster parents told us that their previous home wasn't a good one.   Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation was now caring for them (via a foster home) until they could be found a new home.  Well.....our short interaction with them became a long one.  We adopted them.

Chewy kept his name, but "Jasmine" had been named so many other names that she didn't respond to her assigned name.  So we started calling her "Leia".  We would soon learn that the two of them were not only a ton of fun, but astonishingly smart.  We watched them maneuver and dig and eventually get out of our 2.5 acre yard over and over again.  They had such fun running the Newcastle countryside!  Each time they would come home, dragging themselves from exhaustion, filled with burrs, foxtails in their ears and eyes.  Ugh.  They definitely tested our patience and our pocket books.
They came with me when I moved out, and then moved again.  We were buds.  Chewy had the most amazing eyes to compliment his sweet face.  Even after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure and being on 6+ pills per day for over a year, he never lost it.  What a face.  At 14 years old we said good bye to him when his heart just couldn't take it anymore.
I am so thankful that Chewy lived as long as he did.  14 is old for a dog.  Despite the inevitability of his situation, it was still so hard to let him go.  Harder yet to see Leia looking for him, searching the yard for her lifelong pal.  That part may have actually been worse.  As a result she changed, and in the past 2 years our vibrant, bouncy, crazy, nutball dog has dramatically transformed into a vacant, wandering oldster.

And that's how it's been.  The thought of how Leia's life is basically sucky is something that has been bothering me for awhile now.  I have been hoping (hoping?) that one morning I would wake up to find that she had passed in her sleep.  It didn't happen.  I sought council with people I trusted- how do I know?  I got some loving and honest advice.  Which led me to know that it was time.  I made a phone call that tore my heart up. I put it off and then came to the conclusion that there wasn't going to be a moment when it felt like, "Yes!  Now I will call to schedule the killing of my dog!".  The people who work at Companion Vet Clinic know me (remember all those foxtails in the eyes, ears, nose, etc?) and were patient through my sobbing until they could discern the purpose of my call.
"Do people make appointments for things like this?"
"Yes, they do."
"I don't know how to do this, how do I do this?"
"Well, you just tell us when you would like to come in.  You don't have to be with her when it happens, if you don't want.  I understand how hard this is and I am so sorry."
And so it was.  Ethan took her today.  I couldn't bear to be with another one of my best buds as the life left her.  I could imagine it and it was freaking me out.  Ethan offered.  He assured me that I wasn't being selfish- I thought perhaps I had some duty to be with her in her last moment.  He was there for her.  I love that man.
So we find ourselves dog-less.  After thirteen years of rolling in the grass, swimming in the river, chasing turkeys across fields and late nights removing foxtails from between their toes....we have said goodbye.  I desperately hope that there is a heaven for dogs and that a few hours ago Chewy met Leia and they jumped and pranced away through wide open grassy meadows....I love those dogs.  I miss them.  

Bye, bye babies, I love you.


  1. Hardest decision we ever have to make for them. But one they trust us to make. I know the feeling, Mel. Wrap yourself in memories and know you did right by all of them.

  2. *tears* I am sorry friend for your loss. I love you, and I'm so proud you & Ethan made the right decision for Chewy.

  3. Oh this made me cry. I am so sorry about the loss of your beloveds. (((hugs)))