THE ONES WE’VE HAD, LOVED, AND LOST ALONG THE WAY
My first best friend was my dog Suzy growing up. She was a poodle, and I still remember the day when we picked her up. We went to a breeder because my mom wanted a champagne poodle. When I was little my parents were all about getting pedigree dogs.
I don’t quite know what it was about her or what she found in me that she liked, but she and I became friends. She was protective of me, and when I left home, she remained faithful to me, watching for my return.
I already mentioned in a previous post how when Paul and I married he had an 8 year old Sheltie named Kirby. Previously I was a single mother with a 5 year old daughter, so not long after marrying we found a female tri-color Sheltie for my daughter Rebekah, because she wanted a dog of her own.
Unfortunately that didn’t quite work out the way we intended, because you see, Roxy became my dog. Rebekah was about 6 years old when we got Roxy, and even though she had all this love to dote on this dog, Roxy was quite skittish. She was the runt of the litter, the very last puppy to be taken, but I promise you, she was probably the best dog of the litter. Kids being kids, they don’t understand inherently how to interact with animals on the animals’ basis, what the animal wants or needs. Our youngest is struggling with this right now.
Kirby taught Roxy how to be a dog, how to go potty, etc; he was really like an older brother to a younger sibling, showing her the ropes, so training her was super easy. They both were extremely obedient, but whereas Kirby was getting older, not quite old, but definitely middle-age, Roxy was very energetic and agile. She could do tricks that I never saw Kirby do. When I’d come home from work she’d run and jump into my arms; she wasn’t a small dog, more like a medium sized dog. She’d jump on top of the car, not the hood, but the roof, in her excitement! I wish I had videos of all the crazy things she did, but this was back in 2002, and it was sporadic.
They both liked to eat, mostly whatever was in front of them. Paul was really bad about giving Kirby snacks, including snacks that are now well known to cause dogs problems. He would give his dog Oreos when we first married, claiming he didn’t know they were bad for dogs. Now they don’t really have that much chocolate in them, they’re supposedly Vegan, but their sugar content isn’t good, so one lone Oreo isn’t necessarily bad, but the amount he gave to his dog over the course of just our marriage could be bad, not including all of the other snacks he fed Kirby.
There were times Paul would make himself a sandwich, walk away, and when he came back to eat his sandwich, all that would be left were two slices of bread. What happened? Roxy came in the kitchen and while the sandwich was on the counter, she jumped up and stole the innards of said sandwich, leaving the bread untouched.
Some might say that was just since Hannah, our second child and around 2-3 years old at the time, was stealing the dog food. Sounds gross, right? I agree. I’d make food, but Hannah would rather eat dog food. My in-laws told me the dog food wouldn’t hurt her. You should have seen the dogs faces while she ate their food. They were completely scandalized.
In 2005 Kirby got sick, stomach wise and all over the place. I immediately took him to the vet, and they were going to run tests. Hours later, when I heard from them, I was told that Kirby died on the table, but from the blood work they were able to do, he had liver issues. After discussing it with my in-laws the only thing we could come up with was Kirby’s diet; like I said, he ate a lot of things he shouldn’t have eaten: Pork, grapes, etc, however, having said that, he still lived to be 12 years old; a Shetland Sheepdog’s life expectancy is 12-13 years.
The really sad thing was one week later when I went to work, I felt like I should lock Roxy up in my bedroom, but I didn’t; it wasn’t an overwhelming thought, it was just a brief idea to put her in a back room and close the door in case a repairman came by (because we had a leak in our washer), and then it flitted past.
I went on my lunch break, saw I had a message, and after listening to it (I needed to call this company, repairman did go by my house), I called the company, and jokingly said, “Are you going to tell me my dog is dead?” I promise I was joking, but it was something about how the past few weeks were going; I was feeling quite morbid. “I’m sorry,” the lady on the other end said. She proceeded to tell me how when the repairman entered my house, Roxy ran out the door, so the repairman ran after her, but since we lived near a major street, she got hit by a car. “Why did he run after her?” I asked. “Of course she was going to run away!” I was horrified. Roxy was my favorite animal up to that point, and I wasn’t prepared for both she and Kirby to be gone.
It took some time for me to get over their deaths, but only a couple months later we went out and bought another Sheltie, and this time we called him Moses. He became Rebekah’s dog; she was 10 years old at the time. I don’t think I was ready to have another dog, then or even now. I’m not sure why exactly, whether it’s because I didn’t get to enjoy all the years I felt like we should have had or if it’s something else.
Moses was the only dog or pet we’ve had since the end of 2005 until 2015 when we moved into our house with an acre where we could spread out. When he was less than a couple months old he had an accident where he had a big fall from my husband’s truck, but he seemed OK; it wasn’t until we moved to Arizona in 2009 that symptoms of epilepsy started showing, only as tics in his head at the time.
After we had been living in Oklahoma for a year or two, it was then that the tics increased, and Moses actually had a full blown Grand Mal Seizure. I think he had at least one, maybe two more smaller seizures before we talked to my father-in-law about this.
My father-in-law is a veterinarian, and he recommended decreasing his food intake, suggesting that Moses was overweight. Now I know that I said all of our pets, excluding Meow Meow, were in good shape, but clearly this was after implementing my father-in-law’s advice.
Rather than only feeding Moses twice a day, like we were used to doing, we opted for feeding him a little bit less food three times a day, and we took him for more walks. In time he became more trim and he ended up not having any more seizures, however it didn’t get rid of the tics that he continued to have.
Since Rebekah got married (in 2014), we moved into our house (in 2015), and acquiring a lot more animals, not to mention work schedules changing more than 3 times between the 3 working adults in the house, and some animals just getting older, they just don’t get quite the same attention as they used to. I think when the animals are younger and more demanding, they command a certain amount of attention, but as they age, they sleep more, sadly slipping more into the background like Moses ended up doing. Meow is currently in that stage.
Now I don’t want you to think we totally abandoned or neglected Moses or are neglecting Meow Meow; after Rebekah married and got her own place with her husband, MoMo became my husband’s dog. He was a fireman, so he worked 24 on 24 off, and on his days off, he looked after his dog, not that we ignored him, because we didn’t; we just didn’t engage him like Paul did. We were busy either doing school work, work-work, or other things, and as I noted, he started sleeping a lot more unless it was time to go outside or eat.
Meow is at that age/stage in her life where she sleeps most of her day away, sometimes out of sight, although we do look for her and try to engage her, but then again, she is a cat. Since getting another cat I have noticed that she is more playful and active, not as active as Cake, but more than she has been in at least a year.
In early Spring 2019 we took in a service dog, from a neighbor who’s brother had her to help him with his Parkinson’s, and she was very overweight. They got her from someone else, a long line of people who use these service animals. Our neighbor with Parkinson’s died, and his brother, who is friends with my husband, didn’t know what to do with the service dog; he said he was going to take her to the pound. I’m not sure if he was just distraught about the death of his brother or what, but Paul, my husband, didn’t want to see this animal put down, so we opened our home to Marley.
Because she’s a service animal, she eventually started looking out for our last Sheltie Moses. He was 14 years old, twice her age, and that might have been one of the best years he had, because he had a companion, and not just a human companion.
She lived with us for around 8 months, and in that time we put her on a diet, and slowly but surely she began to drop that extra weight. We also tried to find a home for her, because she started picking up bad habits, like digging holes under the fence. I wondered if she was bored, because she wasn’t doing what she was trained to do, look after someone. She also didn’t like being outside a good part of the day whereas with her previous owner she stayed indoors with him; we had to keep Moses outside unless the weather didn’t permit it, because he was getting incontinent, and so she joined him, because he really liked her company.
It was when my husband went out of town that I started looking for a home for her in earnest. I knew the neighbor we got her from mentioned Marley was a service animal, so I asked where they got her; after all, she should go back to the company they got her from. Service animals are hard to get, because it takes years and a lot of money to train them. Unfortunately they didn’t remember where they got her.
I took some pictures of her and talked to another neighbor of mine. His daughter works at an animal rescue, and when he found out Marley was a service animal, he was positive we wouldn’t have an issue finding a home for her.
I didn’t hear from his daughter for a couple of days, and when I did get a message from her, it was to say that they had to weed through all the calls; they had an enormous amount of requests for Marley, (from war vets to disabled individuals) so they were trying to pick the right fit, but first they wanted to meet Marley to test her and see what kind of training she actually had. Apparently the animal rescue has someone there who is knowledgeable in that area of expertise, and my neighbor’s daughter came to pick Marley up that evening.
The following day I received a call letting me know they found a home for Marley; she passed the tests with flying colors. Not long after I received a picture of Marley with her new owner; she went to help a little girl with epilepsy. I know she’s happy, because she’s taking care of someone even though she started doing that, in a way, with our dog Moses.
The beginning of last year (2020) Moses started to go downhill; he stopped eating and going to the bathroom, and he had some tumors on his body. There were times when we weren’t sure if he was dead or not, he would sleep so deeply. After weeks of heartache, my husband took MoMo to the vet to put him down, and that was one of the most difficult decisions he ever made, always second guessing himself.
We have not gotten another dog as of yet.