I know I don’t talk much about personal things here, but today I am moved to share.
Some of you may already know this, but I had my dog put down two weeks ago today, and I never expected it to be this hard. The first few days were dampened by a pall so thick I didn’t think I’d ever bounce back. Then as we got busy, things got…not better, but pushed to the back of my mind.
We, Day and I, were both half way to exhaustion on the one week anniversary…and I know I didn’t think about it. (It was the first day of driving back to MD and I only had enough in me to figure out which way to go to get us back and how to keep the truck between the lines.)
Now two weeks in, and I want to not forget her…because I know how easy it is to forget.
Getting a rental car and taking her with us to Missouri was the best thing I’ve ever done. She was with us in the back seat every step of the way. Panting and funking up the car with her breath…and eating everything we ate…and sniffing at every stop we made. I was going to make her wear a diaper to keep the rental safe but every time I went to put it on her I thought, “Why even do this to her? It’s her last trip.” And I’d toss it to one side and just let her put her butt on the rug we’d put down for both girls.
She had a love for chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce (NOT bar-b-que!)…but when faced with a nugget and a piece of my hamburger instead of taking one she opened her mouth REALLY wide and tried to get both in her mouth at once. Day and I nearly cried it was so funny!
I remember how the bank and McDonalds and Shakey’s (a frozen custard place) used to keep dog treats to give to people that came through with their dogs…and how Kitty used to think that EVERYWHERE with a drive thru window had treats and I was reduced to purchasing fries even when I didn’t want them so I could give her some. I even asked the people at Capt’n D’s to toss a random fry in my meal so I could give it to the dog…they looked at me funny but they did it and laughed when I fed it to her in front of them. That dog was so convinced those windows were for her that she would push her head over my left shoulder and hang her head out the window as we pulled up in anticipation of her treat. Even when she got older she would try to get on that side of the car when we went through a drive through.
I remember taking her for walks at the dog park and how she would wander around but the moment she couldn’t see me anymore she would start heading in my direction. She had to keep track of her humans, just in case they got in trouble. I remember watching her play with the other dogs and how she liked it for a while but then they would annoy her and she’d leave them…head held high like a queen…to come seek me out. It was as if she was saying, “What a bunch of silly boys, I’ve got better things to do.”
I remember how she HATED water. My Day and I (with help from my Mom and Dad) gave Kitty a bath when she got back from 3 weeks in NYC…she was a filthy sort of dull grey, it was awful. We’d put her in a kiddy pool (kitty pool, is what we called it), and she stood there like a statue glaring at us like she was plotting our demise. She didn’t move, she didn’t run, but she was NOT happy! We washed her and the water ran off her, a sick brown…but wow, when we dried her fur it was like the Golden Fleece. Brilliant and fluffy, soft and sweet smelling…I buried my face in her fur that day, and hugged her welcome back home.
I remember when Day left Kitty with me for 3 weeks while she was in China (she couldn’t take the dog with her). The first couple of days, Kitty would search every room looking for Day and it nearly broke my heart…then she and I settled into a groove and she would sleep with me in bed every night. She and I both missed Day so terribly that we leaned all the more on one another…and when I took her up to my Mom and Dad’s to pick up our wayward Day she knew something was going on. She saw the harness and knew. I put it on her at the airport and when the plane emptied she was quivering with excitement. Then Day whistled, that unique “Kitty, come!” whistle she’d done so often and we both froze. I couldn’t see Day, she was short and lost in the milling crowd but that dog was zeroing in on her and when the second whistle came there was no way I could hold onto her leash. She nearly popped my arm out of my socket when she took off and I just let her go. Seeing the two of them reunited was one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen in my life.
I remember Kitty, I remember her sneaking into the pantry to eat the cat food even when she knew she might fall.
I remember her “sailor’s mouth” (in our opinion that dog cursed all the time).
I remember that cold, cold nose she’d put under your elbow when she wanted what you were eating.
I remember her NEVER, EVER eating anything that was on a plate that we had not given her.
I remember how she and ham did NOT get along. (ick!)
I remember that she hated having her feet tickled.
I remember when she used to bark at the door when people came to visit.
I remember her crooked tail (the result of a nasty waiter stepping on her).
I remember her love of plastic bottles, and fencing, and chasing the boys around R.C. House during fencing class, and bunnies.
I remember it all, I do…and when my book gets published and you read about the fry eating, sweet smelling, smart ass dog you’ll know exactly who I am talking about.
Find your peace and live it, even if it hurts a lot…and if you get a chance, love a pet they are worth all of it and more.