Three and a half years ago I said to my husband "dog or baby, I need one of them! You choose." ... well he chose dog and honestly, we've regretted that decision ever since. (But that's another whole matter.) Now that we've grown accustom to our little doggies, we're sad that we've lost our little girl.
We decided to get a miniature pinscher because Berilac wanted a big dog and I wanted a small dog so we compromised and got a small version of a big dog.
When I was growing up we had one dog that lived 18 years - yowza! And I knew that I wasn't ready to get a puppy that we'd have around till our kids were in high school - that was something I just couldn't fathom. I wanted to get an older dog for three reasons:
- There are so many good dogs in the world that need homes, I figured we could help out and take one in.
- We could get an older dog - you know, the kind that would be put to sleep because nobody else wants to pay for their increasing vet bills.
- From a practical perspective: we wouldn't have to have the dog for 18 years we could have it for a shorter amount of time - see if Berilac and I, as a family, are dog people.
Meet Emily & JD:
Emily is the crotchety old girl sitting less than ladylike - as she always did, JD (short for Jim.my Dean, as in Jim.my Dean Sausages) is the quizical looking troublemaker. Emily turned out to the be the sweet, aloof cuddler that I was looking for - though because of her age cuddling in your lap was uncomfortable for her old bones. JD has a ton of energy, but doesn't chase toys or play any games with people - he does desparate velco dog really well. So neither of the dogs really met our desires - but we loved them just the same.
When we got the dogs, they told us Emily was about to be put down because she was deemed "unadoptable." She was about 13 years old, with a gray face to match. She coughed all the time because of her collapsing trachea. She was ricketty, but sweet and adorable. In the three years that we've had her, we've helped her to drop her weight so that the collapsing trachea (along with the constant coughing) isn't so painful for her. While we had her she completely lost her vision and hearing, and we assume her sniffer was out of commission as well. In a recent vet visit we learned that Emily had an enlarged heart - something common for an old dog. For the past six months Emily has been wearing a little doggie diaper because she wanted to do her business in the warmth of the house rather than go outside - where she was supposed to go! For a few months now we have discussed "how do you know it's time to put down a dog?" And what we learned was that you identify some obvious signs - pain & wimpering, not able to get up and walk around, lack of appetite, etc. And if you see those then it's obvious. However, there were some soft markers we were also looking for: does she still get enjoyment out of life? And we decided that we were looking out to watch if she still cuddled into scratching when you reached out to her and whether or not she scavenged the kitchen floor after food prep. Emily was doing just fine yesterday and the days and nights leading up to yesterday.
Berilac and I travelled to Sacramento, CA for the week for our IVF treatments. We are staying in a dog friendly hotel with our two little doggies. Yesterday, we had our CD9 u/s and when we came home from the appointment Emily didn't climb out of bed to greet us. This wasn't a new concern as Emily was so old that she probably slept 22 hours a day. I was worried about her and wanted to check on her, but we decided to let her sleep rather than wake her up just because we wanted peace of mind. After a couple of hours and no Emily appearance, I decided to check on her. Burrowed below her pillow, on top of her bed, I found my sweet little girl passed away. We think she died in her sleep.
Right before we left for our doctor's appointment Emily was mobbing (blind now, remember) around the unfamiliar hotel room, trying to get some water, searching for a nibble - you know the typical dog routine. When she couldn't find her bed (cuz she's blind) she settled down on a blanket and cuddled in. I heard her give a little yelp and I figured it was because she was upset about not being able to find her bed ... I picked the sweet girl up and put her in her bed. That was the last time I got to touch her.
For my own closure, I want to put together a list of the things that I'll miss about my "little girl" (AKA: Meelie-Wa-nee-le-ah):
- Holding and carrying her with one arm she was so tiny.
- The way she scratched her back against things like a cat.
- The way she would assert leadership around dogs 10X her size.
- Her yucky breath.
- The way she danced when she knew food was coming.
- Her sweet, sweet face and unassuming personality.
- The way she'd knock into walls when she became blind (it was funny, not painful).
- Her UN ladylike sitting posture.
- How she would fall over when she tried to lick herself.
- Her cute little diaper butt - in the last few months.
We tried to make her geriatric years as comfortable as possible, given all of her elderly ailments.
Sweet Emily, we'll miss you.