I never really expected it to be the greatest Christmas ever. Let’s face it, times are a bit challenging. There have been setbacks, disappointments and losses. And, even for a Christmas loving girl like me, the holidays are hard when you’re single. I have people who love me, to be sure, and invitations and places to go. But when you arrive at, and leave every event by yourself, it’s hard not to feel like the rest of the world is paired up. I’m independent, and what I would classify as single “mostly” by choice, but I still occasionally pine for someone to share things with, especially at this time of year. It can be lonely.
What I didn’t expect to happen this week was that I would lose my sweet little dog, Louie. It wasn’t that his death was unexpected. He was 16, ancient in dog years, and had been experiencing several health issues. I had talked about it with my nearest and dearest, knowing that the time would be coming when I would have to say goodbye to him. But, even with that foresight, it still came with a jolt when he started having breathing problems Sunday night. I was up most of the night with him, holding him and trying to comfort him. At dawn I found an emergency vet with extended hours and brought him in. The very kind doctor told me he was in heart failure, and wouldn’t recover. After a brief conversation, I decided to let him find peace. It was the right thing to do; I have no doubt or second guessing on that. The only reason to prolong his pain would be out of selfish needs of my own, not for him.
They took him away from me for a few minutes, and returned with him wrapped in a soft blanket, with an i.v. port inserted. He seemed so frail, so tiny. They gave me a few minutes in private to say goodbye. I told him he was a good dog, and that I loved him. And then, a shot was administered and he went to sleep in my arms. I felt my heart break, and I cried, unashamedly, in front of the vet tech and the kind doctor. Then I went to my car, called my best friend, and then my sister, cried some more, and drove home.
I literally cried buckets that day. It was a work day, and I had a couple of conference calls, so somehow I pulled myself together to do what needed to be done. Fortunately, I work from home, so nobody could see that in between those calls, even while I worked, I cried and cried. I also worried about Daisy Petals; she has never known a life without her brother. But she seemed perfectly fine, which I found both a huge relief and a teeny bit annoying.
I don’t have children. I don’t believe that my love for my dogs, as great as it is, equals a parent’s love for their child. But I had shared 16 years of my life with Louie. I had cared for him, fed him, played with him and slept with him. He had comforted me in times of sickness, made me feel safe again after I was robbed, welcomed me whenever I returned home, and cracked me up a million times with his weird little ways. A little piece of my heart died when he died. I am done crying, mostly, but I feel sad. I keep looking for him and then have to remember I’ll never see him again. He’ll never bark at me as I’m preparing his dinner, or snuggle with me as I nap. Last night I took his little stairs to the couch out to the studio. As I propped them up in the corner, I couldn’t help but think of Tiny Tim’s crutch, left hanging on the wall after “future” Tim is gone. I cried yet again, and then had to laugh at myself.
It’s Christmas Eve as I write this, but I won’t post it until after Christmas. It’s not my intent to garner sympathy or bring anyone down. I will have a happy Christmas, because it is within my control, and that is my choice. I will miss my sweet little dog, but will try my best to focus on all the fun we had. I’ll play with Daisy and appreciate every moment I have with her. I’ll reach out to my friends and family and feel grateful that I have them in my life. I’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life tonight, my Christmas Eve tradition and a wonderful reminder that life is precious, even when it’s not perfect.
Merry Christmas, and with all my heart, Happy New Year. Let there be peace on earth, and let this coming year be filled with health, good fortune and happiness.
The end, for now
We’ve been experiencing some canine unrest at the Gold Manse of late. This is not particularly earthshaking or amusing, but it’s what’s happening right now, and it is definitely affecting my life in an adverse manner, so, write about it I must. If any of you gentle readers possess Animal Whisperer type tendencies, and have any thoughts on these issues, please comment! All ideas and suggestions are welcome!
It started with Louie, as many things do. Poor little guy, he is 15 (and a half) years old now, which is what, 105 in people years? No wonder he’s acting even stranger than usual. I guess I might be a tad eccentric if I live to that age. But hopefully, I won’t start peeing on the newly cleaned carpet, in front of my “master” WHILE the door to outside is OPEN!!! Sorry, I’m yelling, but it’s quite distressing. Well, it was distressing the first time it happened. Now, when we’re up to double digit episodes in the 3 weeks since the carpet cleaners came, it has become epically frustrating. I feel sorry for my old boy, and sorry for myself as well. And it’s not just the peeing. Louie seems to be convinced he hasn’t been fed, ever. He’s convinced at 6:30 in the morning. He’s convinced at 3:00 in the afternoon. He’s convinced about an hour after he’s eaten a big bowl of kibble. I don’t know what to do about it. I tried cutting down on the size of his portions and feeding him multiple times a day, but it hasn’t helped. He stands at the food cupboard and barks and barks as if he’s starving. Manageable during the day, but when he starts barking at me while I’m trying to sleep, it’s a problem. For a week, I was feeding him one last meal at midnight, like the evening buffet on a luxury cruise, hoping that it would hold him until at least 7:00. But it hasn’t, and when I noticed he was also gaining weight (surprise!), I cut out that final bedtime snack. So now, he’s pissed. He’s hungry. He is, in fact, a Hangry dog. It’s not fun.
And I could take this in stride, after all of the pleasure, joy and comfort he has given me all these years, I can tolerate a lot. I love him very much. But, unfortunately, his partner in crime, Miss Daisy Petals, has also come up with a new trick. We just went through quite an ordeal; Daisy had a medical emergency and required surgery. Two weeks of recovery, stitches, wearing the cone, having to be force fed meds with a little dropper. I was so happy when she recovered well, the stitches came out, the cone came off, and the daily pharmaceutical schedule could be dropped. I was looking forward to going back to our usual routine, the one where Daisy is an angel of perfect goodness, the sweetest, best behaved little dog I’ve ever known, who in addition to all of her other perfect attributes goes to sleep in her crate every night at the stroke of 9:45. And for about a week, all that happened.
But about a week ago, Daisy started crying in her crate soon after I shut the door. The crate was never intended to be any kind of punishment. She came to me crate trained and voluntarily went there every night. I figured it was her den. But when she cried, I let her out and she immediately ran into my room and sat next to my bed, waiting to be lifted up. So, that night I let her sleep with me, which I don’t enjoy. Two dogs in a bed, especially with the mad barking pee dog, is one dog too many. I figured it was just a one night thing; we all have our upsets, right? But the next night, same thing, howling as soon as the door closes. And again, the next night. And the next. So, now I’ve got two dogs in my bed with me, perhaps as a regular thing. Daisy hogs the bed like nobody’s business. Louie barks at me and scratches at me and tells me over and over again, he’s HUNGRY and needs to eat NOW! I’m tired. So tired. Always tired. And remember, I just bought this fabulous new miracle bed with the amazing new pillows and I still can’t get a decent night’s sleep.
Where is Cesar Millan when I need him? Or better yet, the Pet Psychic? Do you remember her? There may actually be a number of folks claiming to be the Pet Psychic, but this lady, Sonya Fitzpatrick, had a television show, maybe ten years ago, and I was fascinated by her. She was an older woman, with a charming British accent, and she claimed she could communicate with animals to understand and solve their behavioral problems. What was especially interesting about Sonya was that every communication she had with an animal seemed to reveal that the animal was sad. There was the pony that was sad because it was taken from its mother. Understandable, right? Who wouldn’t be sad? There was the dog that was sad because a new baby had come into the family and the pup wasn’t getting as much attention as he had previously enjoyed. But my absolute favorite Sonya encounter was with the alligator, who was sad because he had his food switched from steak to chicken. That would make me sad too.
As I’ve been writing this, Louie has been barking at me to tell me it is dinner time. So, I stopped and fed him a couple of paragraphs ago. Peace reigned for about 11 minutes, but it must be dessert time, because he’s at it again. I’m sure if Sonya was here, she would tell me he’s sad because he’s hungry, and Daisy is sad because she wants to sleep in the miracle bed with the amazing pillows and join in on all the barking good fun.
I’ll never sleep, but the dogs will be well fed and rested. And not sad, but very happy.
The end, for now