By: Revanche

Goodbye, doggy

January 17, 2011

A memorial photo would be appropriate, but as is fitting of my darling pup who always dodged out of frame at the very last second, I don’t have a good one but many of her blurry bushy tail. 

Last night, I had to make a decision.

I’m the pragmatist and the animal caretaker in the family so I always knew that it would be on my shoulders to make that call because my family would never have the heart to do it but I also never dreamt that I wouldn’t be in the room when it happened.

My puppy, my sixteen year old, last of my childhood pack, was in her end days, crying in pain and in a bad way.  She’d been doing ok up until yesterday, struggling a bit to get around as her hips have always been a touch weak. Old age has been taking, one by one, her knees, her hips, her agility, and yet, she’s kept most of that sparkle in her eye and the verve in her “I’m getting away with something” sneaking into the house whenever I’d let her.  At least until my last visit.

For 16 years, she’s been the first to scent my homecoming, the first to alert to my footstep, the last to settle down after I’ve departed.  This last visit, with all the change it portended, also brought with it a heaviness to my heart as I saw the sure signs she wasn’t going to be with us much longer. It wasn’t just the inevitable frailness that melts away a dog’s frame, nor the weakness of gait. It was her resigned turn of head that was not accompanied by the determined push to get up and come to me … she’s never in her life not come to me. 

And last night, I couldn’t go to her. But she needed me to make the arrangements from afar, to make the calls to friends who know animals, know animal medicine, and to send her to people who could tell me whether there was anything we could do to help her or whether the only help we could now, should now, render was the last kindness of easing her suffering.

In that moment, in the moment of holding a phone and not her head, or her paw, and making this decision, I felt like a murderer, not her mother. I never imagined that I could do this and even in that moment on the phone, I felt like screaming denial, no, no, no, don’t, send her home, I’ll come get her. But I could hear her moaning softly in the background, over the phone.  I desperately wanted to be there for her but to say, wait 8 more hours for me to drive down, hang on through your pain, your dehydration, your discomfort and wait for me… I just couldn’t do that either.  She deserved far better from us. 

********

She was a fantastic, incredibly loyal, smart and feisty pup. 

She always knew our oldest dogs resented her and while she respected their alpha status to a certain degree, she loved to tease and push them around. When she got much older, there was a game she’d play with the chihuahua.  Say rather, a game she’d do to the chihuahua.  He would chivvy her off bed, off blanket, off mat, to the cold floor. She’d oblige for hours. Then when he’d turn his back, she’d gather up his pillows and blankets under her front legs, roosting on them like a chicken, half shutting her eyes, and lolling her tongue as she always did Odie-style, wait for him to get angry.  Oh and angry he would get!  He’d stand there and growl, snarl and scold like an angry hen. Peck peck peck at her face, stand up on her shoulder and snip at her ears as she flicked them to and fro. You could hear her giggling.  Outweighing him by a factor of ten and not in the least bit threatened, she loved how worked up he would get.  Her tail wagged like pistons the longer this went on.  Finally, like a child, he’d finally give up and find one of us to tattle to. He’d run over, whine, look in her direction, bark, look at us, whine again, bark at her.  And true to my family’s Asian parenting style, my dad would say, “I told you not to pick on her when she was little. Now she’s grown up and getting you back.”  She’d grin ever wider, stretch her back legs and grip his pillow even tighter.

She was a softy, a little surprising when mixed with a breed you’re warned is unpredictable, but she was protective.  The moment someone, people or animals, presented a clear threat to her people, she made it quite clear that was not ok.  I had to warn girls especially, if they were walking with her for the first time, to talk to her. She worried about her new people so if strangers stopped and startled say, my cousin, she was on alert.

When I learned to drive, she figured out that she should sit and wait for me to leave without running after the car; when rabbits dug into the yard she didn’t care too much but when they started picking on the chihuahua, well, they learned what other people did about giving my girlfriends wedgies: don’t.

When we had another dog come into our home, she didn’t pass along the poor welcome that she might have picked up from the grumpier older dogs gone ahead.  She quietly accepted his presence, though for her safety in her age and his immense size and youth we made it clear he was beta and she was alpha. Though she enjoyed stealing his couch cushion occasionally, they were a joy to watch when they did their weird kissy face routines or curled up next to each other, heads on each other’s backs and generally enjoying companionship.  She did, however, retain the irritating habit of meticulously shredding paper towels that the chihuahua taught her and picking holes in every dog bed I ever bought her. I still have no idea what that was about. 

R.I.P., puppy dog. You are sorely missed.

22 Responses to “Goodbye, doggy”

  1. Jimmy says:

    So sorry about your friend, they’re always the innocent victims in life and giving mercy to them is part of the deal I think. As long as your friend had a good life, that is all that matters, they live in the moment and so should we. All the best.

  2. Oh, I am so sorry. I’m sure she knew how much you loved her.

    All dogs go to heaven. *hugs*

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. She sounds like quite the character and it you loved each other very much. She’s lived a good life and now she’s in a better place.

    *hugs*

  4. MoneyMaus says:

    Beautiful. Our family dog is turning 15 this year and is showing the aging signs as well. Very hard, but what can you do other than give them peace when they need it most. She knew she was loved and look at the fond memories you will forever have of her!

  5. Ruth says:

    I’m so sorry, I know how much you loved and missed her. For whatever it’s worth, I think you were right not to force her to hang on longer. 8 hours is a long time for anyone in pain, especially a doggy who doesn’t understand why. Sending you lots of love. It sounds like she had a very good life for a dog and I know she had a doggy mamma who loved her very much.

  6. Karen says:

    Very sorry to hear about your pup and that you couldn’t be with her. She had a good, long life.
    Hugs.

  7. Awww, so sad.

    I’m so sorry – she sounds like a wonderful dog. 🙁

  8. It’s so hard.

    This is a beautiful essay. I’m glad you had the privilege of being with her as long as you did.

  9. eemusings says:

    🙁

    May her soul rest in peace.

  10. There isn’t a dry eye in house now.

    Sixteen years is a lot of barks.

  11. Poor doggie. It sounds like she lived a good long life. My condolences.

  12. Shelley says:

    I’m confident you did the kindest thing possible, made the responsible choice. Many people let their beloved pets suffer far too long because they can’t take that necessary step. Well done. I know it must have been very hard.

  13. Ginny says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Always remember the fun times you had with her and all her quirky habits.

  14. Again, I’m so sorry. I know that the decision was difficult, but now she is at peace.

    Sounds like you had a very special relationship with each other, and no one can ever take those memories away from you. Take care.

  15. Aww, Revanche!! Condolences.

  16. Sabrina says:

    I can really relate to your poignant post, as I’ve had to make this decision twice. The first time, I probably waited too long, because my cat, Zackie, who had cancer, didn’t show pain the way humans do–he didn’t whimper or cry. He just sat hunched up all the time. When it finally dawned on me that he WAS in pain, I couldn’t bear to have him suffer another minute. With another cat, SnoWhite, I realized what was happening and acted quickly to spare her from suffering. Both passings were very peaceful. It’s tough to make the decision, but you did the right thing. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  17. Bucksome says:

    Revanche, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. You were strong to make the right decision for her, but I know how hard it was to do.

  18. sorry this is a late posting. I’m also sorry to hear about your doggy. 🙁 Least she’s not in pain anymore. She sounds like a wonderful doggy.

  19. yesiamcheap says:

    So sorry to hear about your baby! I know that it’s hard but think of the 16 wonderful years of job that she gave you.

  20. Sense says:

    Oh, that is so hard! I’m so sorry. I know the distance only made it a million times worse. 🙁 If she could have told you, I’m sure she would have agreed with your decision.

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