Dogs I Have Known and Loved
Author’s note:This story was originally written in 2012. Since that time I have lost my dear little pug, Sarah, which is the first story you will read. She was 15 when she died, she was blind, diabetic, and barely able to get around due to aches and pains. I guided her to bed at night, and I stayed close to her during the day, so she would not panic. The time came, however, when the veterinarian said she was suffering, and I could not allow that. She crossed over the rainbow bridge on March 29, 2014 and her presence is truly missed every day. Here are my memories of Sarah and stories of other dogs I have known and loved.
We Begin With Sarah Because She Was My Last
February 2012: Sarah is 13 years old now and has some infirmities. She is on daily thyroid medication which has helped her to be more active and she is diabetic. Twice a day she gets insulin shots and Thyroxin for her thyroid. She is also deaf and going blind from cataracts. The cataracts could be removed, but it would mean putting her under anesthesia, and the Vet agrees with me not to risk that.
Sarah’s decline was obvious.
This photo of Sarah was taken in November of 2000. Her black fur showing here on her ears and muzzle, is now very grey. Sometimes, if she doesn’t see me leave the room, she almost panics trying to find me. Other times, she is so sound asleep, she doesn’t know I’ve left. She used to jump up on the bed to sleep at my feet, then we went through a time when I had to pick her up and put her there. Now she sleeps in her own bed on the floor beside mine. So it’s quite obvious that her life, as with all living things, is now on its way to the end. If she leaves this world before I do, I will miss her terribly. At the same time, I don’t want to leave before she does, because although there are others who love her, nobody would be as patient with her or take care of her the way I do.
The Toys She Loved
Sarah used to love to play with her toys. When we vacuumed the carpet, we would pick them up and put them in her toy basket. She never liked the vacuum, and stayed out of the way, but as soon as the “monster’s” noise stopped, she would run to her basket and tip it over and drag all her toys out again. Her favorite toy was one we got a few Halloweens ago, an orange plush jack-o-lantern with a squeaker inside.
Sarah at 12 years old
Sarah is sleeping on the floor beside me as I write this. Every day I see her physical health diminish, but as long as she is not in pain, I will see her through to the end. She has been with me through a lot of heartbreak and illness.
The least I can do is be with her through her hard times. I physically guide her to her bed at night.
Sometimes if she has gone outside during the day, she can’t see anything when she comes in from the light and walks behind the open door instead of through the doorway. I watch her carefully, and guide her when she needs it.
I know the day is fast approaching when I will lose her and I dread that day with all my heart.
Peggy was the first dog I owned…. or did she own me?
Peggy was my very first dog, my Mom got for me when I was 11-years-old. She was a rat terrier, black and white, and I loved her dearly. I called her “My shadow,” because she always had to be where I was.
Peggy didn’t like to get bathed…she struggled to get out of the tub, and sometimes Mom had to help me hold her. But once she was out and we dried her with about 6 fluffy bath towels, and covered her up on her bed, she was fine. She’d take an “after bath” snooze, and wake up feisty and ready for play.
I had Peggy until I was 19 years old and expecting my first child. But Peggy died one winter while she was outside doing her business. She was overweight by this time and we believe she had a heart attack. My Mom thought I would lose my baby, because I grieved so much. I felt guilty, that it was somehow my fault because I had not given her as much attention in those months I was expecting. It took an awful long time to get over her death…she was my baby too.
Pepper – 1969
A skinny little black Chihuahua we called Pepper was with me for a number of years, traveling across country with me by air and by car.
I can’t tell you exactly where she came from, but someone gave her to my Mother.
I lived across town from Mom then, and each time I visited I fell more in love with the tiny little thing, and she with me. Whenever I came she stayed in my lap almost the whole time I was there. When Mom and Dad both were working, Mom told me to take her home with me. After that, she became mine, because Mom said she couldn’t bear to part us.
Pepper lived to be very old, and when I moved to Las Vegas, she was physically unable to make the trip, and went back to live with Mom.
Eventually she passed away peacefully from old age.
Hobo – 1980s
Hobo was a dog we came to love who had no pedigree, but was probably the best dog we ever had. He was a mutt dog, maybe Corgi or Dachshund mix. We called him Hobo because he wandered the neighborhood every day, since his owners left the gate open when they left in the morning. Several times as I was leaving to take my son to school and then go to work, he would appear and jump into my car like a flash. I would take him back to his yard and close the gate.
He was so cute…his eyes were lined like Cleopatra, and he had a beautiful coat and little short legs.The family that owned him were really not “dog people.” and mostly ignored him. He didn’t even have a name until we gave him one.
When the neighbors bought a new home in the suburbs, we told them if they ever wanted to give him away, we wanted him. I gave them our phone number, and about a month later we received a call that he had dug up some of their new landscaping, and did we still want him? You BET we did and we drove up that day to get him. We wound up calling him Beau for short. He never dug up our landscaping, and he never got out to run the neighborhood.
He would lay by my feet in the evening as I sat in my recliner,and occasionally bump my leg with his nose as if to let me know he was there. Years later he became very ill and could not be saved, and my vet had to put him down. It broke my heart and I missed him so much. About a week after he was put down, I was sitting in my chair watching television, when all of a sudden I felt him bump my leg, just as he used to do. I know it sounds looney, but I think he was letting me know he was okay, that he was waiting for me across The Rainbow Bridge.
Cricket – 1980s
A tiny long-haired chihuahua, apricot in color. She was given to me by my babysitter at the time. We named her Cricket because my Aunt in Kentucky had a little one named that, and I always thought it was such a cute name. Cricket was with me for a number of years, even after Beau came into our lives. She just adored him, and wanted to be wherever he was. She always went out to do her business at the same time he did, she ate at the same time he did, and made sure she slept close to where he was sleeping. It was so funny to see hero worship in the dog kingdom.
One time when my little son’s teddy bear had been thrown out of his crib, she grabbed it by the ear and came running with it to the living room. The bear was as big as she was, and she looked so funny trying to run with something that large. She was a loving little girl who loved being petted and brushed, but hated being bathed. Once the bath was over however, she would preen and prance like she knew she was a beautiful little thing.
After Beau was gone, Cricket was never the same. She would go to the gate that was the last place she saw Beau the last time we took him to the vet. She would stand and look up and down the street. She would go to his favorite spots in the yard as though she was looking for him. She seemed as sad as I was about losing him. One day when I let her out, she fell down our short flight of steps, and after that her cataracts got so bad she could no longer see. The vet said she went down hill so fast because she missed her friend Beau, and that possibly long before we knew it, she was going blind and Beau essentially became her seeing-eye dog. Without him, she deteriorated rapidly. She began staying in her bed longer and longer, and I began occasionally finding feces in her bed when I cleaned it. One day she got up and started through the house, and her legs gave out on her and she could no longer get up. With tears streaming down my face, I picked her up and barely managed to get to my car, my own legs did not want to carry me. She rode in my lap all the way, not even moving. The vet examined her, and said it was time, as she was suffering. I held her and stroked her head and sang to her until it was over. My little Cricket was gone.
Samantha – 1990s
This sweet-natured Cocker Spaniel, totally black with only a small patch of white on her neck under her bottom jaw, was found by some friends on a Las Vegas freeway. How she managed to live through the whizzing traffic, I’ll never know. She was wearing a collar and tags, with a phone number of a California veterinarian on the tag. My friends called the number, the vet said he knew who the dog belonged to and would call the owners and give them my friend’s phone number. A week went by with no call. The vet was called again and was surprised that they had not called. He said he didn’t talk directly to them, but had left a voice mail message, so he would try again. Another week went by with no word, and the vet was called once more. He said, “I don’t understand, but I think you have yourself a dog.”
They kept Samantha, as they named her, for over a year, but had to move into an apartment and couldn’t have pets. Of course, when they told me the story, my heart just melted, so Sam came to live with us. Sam had ear infections frequently. She was sweet, but not playful. Sometimes she seemed sad. We had no idea how old she was, but the vet said she was at least 2 years or better. We kept her for several years until she got sick and had to be put down. I just hope the time she spent with us was at least restful, peaceful and gave her a little happiness. She was a dear little soul.
A poem by an unknown author, giving comfort to those who have lost a pet, with the thought that the pet is waiting for its master, across The Rainbow Bridge.
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