Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Loving reminders of dogs
The brick says “Remembering Kiwi: 125 Pounds of Love” and it’s part of a wall of bricks outside DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Ore. My brother-in-law and my sister purchased the brick in 2007 to honor their Newfoundland who passed away at age 11½ in April of that year. Kiwi was a great dog and I loved her, so the sight of her brick brought me both joy and sadness.
There are benefits of physical memorials to the dogs who remain in our hearts but no longer walk beside us every day, at least not in the literal sense. The tangible reminder of a loved one has great value, which is why gravestones as well as notices in the paper and even decals on cars mention those who have left us. In the case of Kiwi’s brick and others like it, a charitable contribution to buy the memorial goes to DoveLewis. Though a pet may be gone, honoring them with a contribution is a way to know that the love they inspired continues to give hope and lifesaving help to other pets.
Whether it required a contribution or not, do you have a tangible reminder of your deceased dog?
It was the day after Christmas, and I came running outside to feed Sandy our nine-month-old Beagle, on a cold morning.
Usually, Sandy came out by her kennel door eager to greet me, but today it was different. She slowly walked over to me.
Knowing something was wrong; I came in her kennel and started petting her and looking her over. She looked up into my face. Poor girl, I thought. Then Sandy started coughing. Great, I thought. Sandy has kennel cough.
Of the few dogs I have had in my life I never had one sick, but from doing dog research in the past I figured that was what it was. Just kennel cough. Little did I know how wrong I was.
Two days later Sandy was worse. She ate little food—and for Beagles that is very rare—and was not active at all. She would just watch as a ball rolled by her nose and lay down when we tried to get her into a game of dog tag.
My mom said to bring her in my room, where it was warmer and away from the Washington cold and wind.
I was glad to have Sandy inside where I could keep my eye on her, and I think she was too. Instead of exploring my room, she just lay on her dog bed and followed me with her eyes. I figured Sandy would get better, but later that evening Sandy coughed up blood. Immediately, I knew something was seriously wrong. This was not kennel cough. Doing some research, I found Sandy had all the symptoms of rat poisoning.
Sandy had gotten into some rat poisoning somehow, and now she was sick, and possibly dying.
I immediately prayed to God, “Lord, don’t take her away.” Please let her get better. There was nothing more we could do until morning, when we would take her in to Kulshan Veterinarian Hospital.
That evening I didn’t sleep much. I was too worried about Sandy and afraid that she would die while I was asleep. She was breathing hard and I wished I could do something to help her, but I could do nothing.
Later that night, I stayed up and held her in my lap. “Don’t die Sandy,” I gently whispered to her. “Don’t.”
Eventually, I did go to sleep and I woke up early the next morning. I quickly got dressed and then to make Sandy more comfortable I slipped her red collar off.
Waiting for my mom in the van I prayed, and hoped that Sandy would get better.
“Maybe it’s not as serious as we think,” my mom encouraged as we drove to the vets. I hoped she was right.
However after the vet looked her over, she said that Sandy’s condition was very serious and that they could do surgery, but it wouldn’t guarantee if she would make it. I knew we didn’t have the money for that, and I knew that she would have to be put to sleep.
“Good-bye, Sandy,” I said quietly as the vet took Sandy out of the room. A lump began to form in my throat.
As we left the building the lump in my throat grew, knowing I would not see my beloved Beagle again. At home, I cried as I saw Sandy’s red collar on my desk, never to be worn again by our beloved dog.
Even though Sandy is gone, she has left with me some great memories. How she use to run away from us on a trail of a squirrel, how she use to bark until we let her out of her kennel. They were happy memories she has left.
Yes, Sandy is gone, but she was a fun dog to have. Sandy loved everyone and brought a smile to anyone. In the spring, when the weather is warm, I will again be searching for another dog to love and care for, and I look forward to it.
News: Guest Posts
When our departed dogs return to us for a night
The other night as I drifted off to sleep, I thought about how much I’d love to dream about my dog Lulu, who died in August. I’ve only had one dream about her since then, and it felt like she was back, which means it felt wonderful. But when I woke the following morning, I didn’t have any memory that I’d been successful in my efforts to conjure her.
Later in the day, while my husband and I were out walking our dog Renzo, Charlie mentioned that he’d dreamed about Lulu that night. He said, she had come to the back door and barked to be let in. When he opened the door, she pranced in with a couple packages of Jello mix in her mouth. Then, she produced another package of sausages and danced around her treasures. That’s all he could remember, but it was more than enough to feel right and make us laugh.
Next time, I hope I’m at the door when she stops by.
Queen of the Celtic Fairies and Beguiler of Men
“If there are no dogs in Heaven,
Will Rogers, 1897-1935Sidehill’s Mab, Queen of the Celtic Fairies and Beguiler of Men, is now gossiping with Dancer Dawg, Roscoe the Ratador, and Buck(le) Bear about the challenges of living with me. They are talking of misplaced leashes, late dinners, damned cats (and more damned cats), hours in the back of the vehicle of the day and walks promised but not taken. I hope they talk about the good times of meeting and greeting at market, gossipy strolls in the ’hood, playing in the lake and at the river and the great snow marches. No doubt they are comparing notes on the numerous beds, mats and comforters they were each given. Since they all ended up on my bed—they can match stories about my snoring, weird sleep habits and my own marathon naps. Mab can flaunt her trips to the beach (she went to both Nag’s Head and Virginia Beach). She can describe chasing the sea gulls to her heart’s delight at both places and winning admirers with her good looks and gracious ways. She came to me a beautifully trained field English Setter and I ruined her, letting her forget most of her training. I spoiled her rotten and she returned the favor. She was my good good dog.
Maggie Mae is buried – there just beyond my kitchen window
Maggie Mae is buried – there just beyond my kitchen window under the summer canopy of ancient apple trees Appropriate don’t you think? Her round head, round eyes framed in apples, her greeting a dizzying round go round. Today the wind picked up and a dozen apples fell one split in two revealing A chambered heart--necessary dark seeds. At dusk deer will tiptoe hushed into the palpable shadows and I will hear her bark bark at their trespass, will see her run run again, run wily and whole first into the tall grasses before the sweet turning back toward the light of home.
Doing life on her own terms
“She doesn’t have much time,” my mother said over the phone one April morning, “you should come down this weekend.” My dog, an almost 17-year-old white, coal-eyed Bichon Frise, who had been part of the family since she was four months old, was dying. Whether it was a recently-found tumor or a long-hidden hormonal imbalance, the problem was neurological, and Dr. Cohen told us there was little he could do for her. “If she were my dog,” he said, “I would take her home to be with the family.” And so my mother did.
Machi started life at my parents’ home, where I still lived as I began my career as a lawyer, saving money to buy my own home. When I moved into a Los Angeles apartment 60 miles away, I took her with me. I was rarely home; the long hours I worked meant she spent most of her time alone. She became flea-bitten and confused by apartment living.
When, two years later, I bought a home a few minutes from my parents’, she hid behind couches and ate an entire bowl of foil-wrapped chocolates, prompting an emergency call to the vet. I was in a troubled relationship and navigating my way through the politics of law firm life. Machi absorbed the stress. Once I yelled at her as I lay crying on my bed and, contrary to my house rules, she tried to climb up to see me. She never forgot that yell, no matter how tightly I held her or how much I apologized afterward. Whoever said dogs live in the moment never knew Machi, whose memory and intelligence were deep.
Once, on a visit to my parents’ house, as the time to leave came, I looked over at Machi. She was sitting up, looking out the window from beside the chair in which I was sitting. I called her to go home. As I did, she suddenly thrust her head down and pretended to be asleep. I took her home that night but, within the week, I returned her to my parents. It was clear she preferred her childhood home to mine.
Machi was always her own woman. She loved all of us (my father in particular), but she did what she wanted, when she wanted, on her own terms. She did not, as my mother liked to say, “pander” to anyone. That quality was in fact why I chose her. She was the only one of the litter to squirm off my lap when I tried to hold her. That quality was also how she got her name. Machi was short for Machisma, the female version of machismo.
Machi, sick, lay flat like a rug on my parents’ hardwood floor or the cool limestone of the bathroom. Her remaining joy was to sit outside, with a light breeze ruffling her hair, her body slowly and softly being stroked. It seemed to remind her of her middle years, when she would sit outside alone after dinner, sniffing the breeze. My father used to call it her after-dinner “smoke.”
Machi was a fighter. For years she lived with crippling arthritis and never complained; she just took shorter and slower walks. She accepted what was and kept going. She would never give up, no matter how wracked her body became.
And so, after a particularly painful night, the decision was unanimous. My father, who typically avoided illness or death, drove us to Dr. Cohen’s. Machi cried out when the needle entered her paw. She looked surprised and perhaps a bit betrayed that we had taken the last thing she had—the fight itself—away from her. All three of us held her.
The next day, I ran the treadmill, pushing through intense bursts of interval training. On the third interval, I wanted to give up. Then I thought of what Machi would do, and I pressed on.
Rhea with her favorite
Rhea, happiest with her favorite person! Rhea passed one a week after this picture from cancer. She was almost 13.
--Ernie and Jerry Eppinga, Providence Forge, Va.
My heart is broken, where did you go?
A Poem for Cammy Jane, 9/5/2000-2/9/2007
I’m sleeping with a pheasant, Puppy.
Wild and giddy playmate!
Hunter of toys,
Should the time ever come
The story behind the poem:
There were no symptoms, no warnings, no intuitive curiosity to cause a consult with our vet. Only necropsy confirmed what we couldn’t have known. Taken from us in a matter of hours, Cammy (Calamity’s Best Shot), died of hemangiosarcoma at the age of six. It’s unfathomable that a tumor was growing in our dog’s heart. To say Cammy died peacefully in her sleep is incongruous with the ugly, graphic reality of that violent rupture in her glorious chest. Late in the afternoon, when the pathologist’s report was sinking in, we were able to smile at one small detail: “Dietary indiscretions,” including lettuce and mushrooms, were found in Cammy’s tummy. Common fare for a creature who ran to the vegetable drawer every time I opened the refrigerator!
I am guilty with the blessings that she didn’t suffer any indignities and that her beauty was never diminished. I thank God for her and know in my heart we never wasted a minute of the time we had together.
It has been almost three years since Cammy’s passing and this is the first time I have been able to “go public” with this (her) poem and picture. The pheasant and I hung out for many, many months. Now our daily doses of joy and laughter come from a Golden pup named Zena, short for Zenith. The pheasant loves her, too!
Lots of love in a too-short lifetime
Lick. Lick. Lick.
Those little kisses on my nose sealed the deal. We had to take that adorable Beagle puppy home with us.
Our Beagle, Bailey, was a smart, people-loving, stubborn, sweet, independent-minded little soul. Though lacking English skills, Bailey was an excellent communicator. She could make her wishes known using a combination of her nose, barking and whining, and her big brown eyes, which could cover a range of emotions from happy to guilty to thoroughly annoyed.
When you talked to her, she would turn her head, cock her ears and furrow her brow. She looked like she comprehended everything, although I’m sure she was just listening for her favorite words: treat, dinner, dessert, bunnies, Daddy. Bailey knew many words, but her favorite was “light.” We couldn’t even say it—we had to spell it, due to our pup’s severe addiction to chasing the laser light.
She was first introduced to the euphoria that a laser pointer could give as a puppy. A man brought one to the dog park to entertain his Labrador, who couldn’t have cared less. But Bailey was hooked from the instant she saw that bright bead, glowing red on the ground.
The next day, when the man didn’t bring the laser pointer, Bailey went nuts—jumping all over him. She needed her fix. We were forced to buy one just so she would leave the poor guy alone.
After that, she chased the light three times per day, every day for twelve years. The vet used to remark about what amazing muscle tone Bailey had in her legs—it was from bouncing off our walls chasing the laser. She had a special bark (loud and crazed) and a special tail wag (full circle) just for the light.
With all games—the light, ball, squeaky squirrel—Bailey insisted you actively participate. You weren’t allowed to sit back and toss the toy du jour. No, she refused to play (would lie down and glare at you in her “We are not amused” way) if you didn’t get up too. She even invented a game where we were the ones who ran around. She’d stand on the couch and we’d bounce a ball at her. If she bounced it back, she got a point. If we caught it, we got a point. But if we missed and had to run after it, she’d get another point. She loved that game. She’d stand on the couch and purposely bounce it away from us, and then smile while we ran around like idiots.
She was a very funny girl. One escapade always makes us laugh whenever we think of it. When we first had her, we lived in an apartment. One day we opened the door to greet a friend, just as our neighbor walked out of his door. Bailey, who’d never bolted before, flew out our door and into the neighbor’s apartment, where the roommate sat on the sofa eating pizza. She snatched the last piece off his plate and raced out! She must have smelled it through the thin walls and plotted her perfect crime. I would have loved to see that roommate’s face: sitting there, enjoying his pizza, looking forward to relishing the last piece; when suddenly a blur of Beagle dashes in and steals it.
It was a great joy to have her in our lives. She made us laugh every day. We loved her very much. She loved us too—although her obvious favorite was Daddy. She would sit in his lap every morning, put her arms around his neck and kiss him before work. We wondered if she thought she had to re-mark him everyday (“Back off other dogs; he’s mine!”), before he went out into the world. After all, he shaved off all her kisses from the previous day. One day, I tried to count her kisses. Lick. Lick. Lick. I gave up after one thousand. We conservatively estimate that she gave him several million kisses over the course of her too-short lifetime.
Someday we’ll have another dog, but there will never, ever be another dog like her.
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