Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cold-Nosed Angels

I work for a small company. We've all worked together for nearly 10 years, and in that time we've become extended family.

My bosses had to put their dog down yesterday morning. The atmosphere in the office has been so heavy - She was a sweet, gentle dog, and we had all grown to love her. But she was old ... Her hips were giving out, she'd been having trouble breathing, had stopped eating and drinking several days before, and had spent the last few days looking for quiet places to just ... lay down and seemingly let go.

Her folks decided it was time.

But even knowing when the time is right does not make the pain of saying goodbye any less sharp.

I was borne to a family which included a gentle-spirited border collie. He considered me his own and I dare to say no one in the house loved me more. He lived to be 17, and died at home on a Sunday morning. Naturally we were all devastated.

In time, my brother and I recovered from the loss. But my mother, while she learned to cope, never quite got the pain behind her.

Everyone who knows me knows that I love my dog to a ridiculous degree. He's a royal pain in the a$$ and at times has practically given us a nervous breakdown. But Hub and I love him with ALL our hearts. He's our oldest boy, our sweet pup, and the closest thing we have to eyewitnessing God's perfect unconditional love. And from the time we brought MBDog into our lives, I've prayed a secret prayer in earnest. I know it sounds morbid, but I've asked the Lord that when it's MBDog's time, that he releases his soul after a wonderful, love-filled day like any other. That he doesn't become ill, or suffer, and more to the point, that we won't be faced with the decision to put him to sleep. I can't even bear the thought of facing that decision without choking up. I hope with all my being that God will make the decision for me.

Herein lies the understanding for my Mother's torch for our sweet border collie. My brother and I shared the family with him - he was indeed a part of it as much as everyone else. But he was MOM's dog. SHE had adopted and raised him as her canine child. HE was HER boy. And she'd lost her boy.

My puppy, who once NEVER slept, now naps much of the time - and I've noticed the once distinct division of his white snout and brown cheeks is recenty becoming smudged with increasing amounts of gray. He's far from old, though - and statistically he still has many many years to go. But the past 5 1/2 have gone so fast. Too fast. I am glad that Incrediboy will know the happiness of growing up with a wonderful family dog. I know he'll remember MBDog always, even when he's an old man. But he will get over losing MBDog much faster than Hub and I will. If we ever do.

Opening your heart to a dog is one of the greatest blessings and learning opportunities granted to humans. They limit your freedom. They cramp your style. They can often be a burden on your budget. But they are worth it.

The only problem is they are here for such a short time.


Christine said...

I was never a pet person. As a matter of fact, a post like this would have made me snicker two years ago. I HAD pets growing up and the kids have a dog I but never grew attached although they were good friendly dogs. Then I adopted an affenpinscher for myself. I fell in love with that little face. He was backyard bred and has a heart defect. He had a bad case of pancretitis when he was about six months old and I nursed him back to health. This dog is MY dog. He follows me around everywhere just waiting for me to sit so he can climb on my lap. I find myself carrying him when I have too much to do so he won't have to go back and forth so much.
Max is "moms" dog. He doesn't come to anyone else when I am around. I love this little beast as much as a family member. I can't imagine ever losing him and I know I would spend thousands to get him well if he gets ill.

It took 40 years, but I get it.

Coffeypot said...

It is amazing how much a human can love a dog. But I have always been a dog person. As a child we had a Boxer/Boston Bull mix named Sleepy. He was the family dog. NO ONE other than family could walk on our porch. I would wrestle with him, bite his neck and flip his nuts. He would only turn around an lick my face. But mom called the pound and had him picked up because NO ONE could come on the porch. Back then, we had a bi-weekly produce truck come by the house as well as the laundry man and the insurance man, much less the neighbors. So he had to go. That is when I first started hating my mom. Euthanasia is hard on the family, but merciful for the dog. My step-daughter, Dr. Amber, has to euthanize as part of her profession, but she is almost anal in her treatment. I have seen her scream at techs and Vet students who take such a lackadaisical attitude in putting down and animal. But death is a part of our life and we should love those ‘beings’ that are around us in order to make their lives happier and fulfilled.

And Christine, if you had walked up to me and told me you have an Affenpinscher, I would have told you to see your gynecologist. I had to look it up to see what it was, but found out it was only a dog.

chesneygirl said...

Oh Clewy, this post brought tears to my eyes. Seriously.

Because I can relate to it SO much.
Especially the part about your mom.

You probably remember me mentioning that "my" dog died last summer on my birthday.
That was Shelby, aka "Shebby". She was 14 years, 1 month and 1 day old the day she died.

Well she was REALLY my mom's dog. My mom was the one that insisted we get her, she was the one that raised her and spoiled her the most. But we all loved her SO very much and to each of us she was "my" dog. We got her two months after I graduated from high school and since I lived at home off and (mostly) on for the 8 years following, she was still "my" dog too.
She was the best dog ever, she had a very unique personality! And I miss her so much, especially at the moment I first walk into my parents house every time I go over there (which is often).

And when you say burden on the budget... Two months before Shelby died, my mom spent 100's $$ for her to have surgery to have a growth removed, even though her age was a risk factor. And I can tell you my mom would do it again if she had it to do over! :)

LOVELY post, my friend!
It's been so nice to think of Shelby today! :)

Martie said...

I have been where they are more than I would like to remember........and yet, I know it's coming again one day. Probably not within the next 5 years, but not long after, and I know I will feel that terrible loss once again. And wonder why I keep putting myself through it.....shrug!

Very touching post today, Clewy!

Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Amen Clew....

"Smokey", my pit bull, is always and will always be remembered.

Dogs are nothing but unconditional love. They don't care about your appearance or your flaws....

Noo, I don't mean yours specifically...but anyones!

Anonymous said...

I’ve yet to have a pet dog but did have a very precious bird. I loved that little parakeet so much. He was so smart. He died June 2005. He became sick and within a week’s time he perished. It was quick in one sense being only a week but when a loved one is sick, even a week seems very long.

I remember it was a Saturday night – almost 10 pm when I heard noise from his cage. I checked on him and saw that he was having trouble standing up. I couldn’t let him go like that, so I picked him up and held him in my hands stroking him. I began to cry because I knew he was going to leave me. I told him how much I loved him and thanked him for being a part of my life. He took his last breath right after I finished what I was telling him.

I buried him on a hill that has a view of the mountains. I drove north about 30 minutes to find such a place.

I really miss him and haven’t had a pet since his death. Strange enough sometime after his death, I was going through a very rough time. I was at work and sitting at my desk when out of nowhere a feather colored like his fell from the air right in front of my face and landed on my keyboard. I kept it. I still have that feather. And sometimes even still to this day, I will have a reoccurring dream to which he wants to know why I’ve not feed him. In the dream I always rush to get food and wonder why on earth I’ve not feed him. LOL

Also to seal my fate as a nut case, I have kept hope that maybe reincarnation is real and his spirit will come back in the next pet I own.

Spin_Doc1 said...

I judge a person on how they treat their dogs and your are perfect in my eyes.

Lori said...

There have been many canine loves in my life: Dolly, Bitsy, Buttons, Cocoa, Trixie, Midgy and now, G.T. Every time you lose one it's like a part of you goes with them. But I can't imagine going through life without loving an animal and making him or her part of your family.

Joy said...

What a wonderful post clew! And so true! I got myself a puppy last year, she's now over a year old and I honestly cannot imagine my life without her. She can be an incredibly stubborn and naughty little thing but I love her all the same.