It's been a tough week around our house this week. We had to make the difficult decision to have our dog put down. He was 12 and had cancer, a very rapidly progressing type which made it even more difficult because we had only 2 weeks to deal with it all. In the past when we had pets put down, we always had another one to lavish the love and affection on during our period of grieving. This time we didn't, and I can't even describe the pit I've had in my stomach for the past week.
I got my first dog when I was 28. My parents wouldn't let me have a dog as a kid because of my various allergies and they were afraid that it would be another pet that we would have to find a new home for once the itching and sneezing started. Hattrick aka Tricky-Woo showed up on our doorstep in November of 1992, and wiggled her way quickly into our hearts. I had just come home from the grocery store and heard this noise at our door that I assumed was the neighbors cat who had adopted us. Lee looked out the window and said "hey, check out this puppy out here!" When I looked, my reply was "that is no puppy, that's a moose!" We thought she was chestnut brown, but a bath and a very dirty bathtub later, we found out she was a lovely, golden color. We asked around the neighborhood to see if anyone knew who she belonged to, only to find out that she had been wandering around the other end of our road for roughly two weeks. We ran ads in the paper, posted signs with her picture all over and all we got were a couple of phone calls confirming that she wasn't the dog they were looking for. We finally came to he decision that if no one claimed her by the new year, we would just keep her. When we had her put down 2 years ago, she was 14 years old, and had given us plenty to laugh and smile about. I still laugh when I think about how she used to wiggle her way up against one of us in bed, or when I remember nicknaming her "Tricky Flatley" one day after she did this little dance trying to get her point across to me that she wanted to go outside. She was a character.
Gilligan came in to our life in November 1996. It had been a very difficult time for us as my sister had become very ill and in addition to taking care of her business and medical affairs, we had to move her youngest son in with us. We had been thinking about getting a second dog before all this had happened and decided that it would be a good opportunity for Matt to learn about the reponsibilities involved in having a puppy. I'm sure our friends thought we were crazy, my theory was that come June everything would be simple, my sister would be much better, Matt would be able to move back home and the puppy would be well on the way to being an adult dog. I can't tell you what a great pick-me-up coming home to a puppy was after being at the hospital with my sister, seeing all those people who wouldn't recover.
When we had Trick put down, we were very concerned how Gilligan was going to take this as she had been a part of his life since he came home with us. He seemed a little down, but he eventually bounced back, reveling in his only fur-child status. And I swear that when she knew she wasn't coming back, she whispered in his ear that he needed to take up snoring. She snored like a chainsaw and all of a sudden he started, something that he'd never done before. Maybe that was her little sign to us.
In December of last year we came back from vacation to discover that he hadn't been himself while we were gone. After several trips to the vet, it was discovered that he had diabetes. I remember thinking "how in the world am I going to give a shot to a dog?" It turned out to be much easier than I thought because he was such a sweetheart. He responded very well to the medication and in no time at all, he was back to his old, sock-stealing self. He was showing signs of age, but nothing that indicated that the worst was yet to come. In August he had to have a tooth removed and the vet discovered a piece of suspicious stuff that she removed and sent out for tests. We were relieved when everything came out negative, but that relief was short lived. Shortly after coming home from Florida last month, something went horribly wrong. Even the vet was in disbelief at how quickly the cancer had spread, even going over the pathology reports to see if she missed something. Suddenly we found ourselves in the position of making a decision that neither of us wanted to make, but knew we had to.
The past few days have been spent remembering all his little funny habits. I remember the day we brought him home like it was yesterday, holding him in my arms the whole way home from Ohio. Lee crawling on the floor and barking at him as a puppy and later as an adult dog (I guess I am the apha dog in this house!). Him stealing my friends gloves one day when she stopped by for a visit. His love of sticks. And most of all that kind, warm face that used to come over and nudge a hand when he wanted petted.
Last week if you had asked me if we would have another dog, my answer would have been no, probably not. But over the past few days I've come to realize what a big part of our lives these two furry creatures have been. We've done a lot of talking about what kind of dog we'd want, and the things we would do differently this time around. I've even contacted a local club for one of the breeds we are considering so we can be sure that we aren't getting in over our heads. It won't be right away, but come spring there will more than likely be the sound of little paws running through our house again. In the meantime I wil cherish the memories I have of the two of them, and only hope that they loved us as much as we loved them. To Trick and Gill, I hope you know that we love you to the moon and back, even if you aren't with us anymore. I know when you think that we are ready, you'll send us the right puppy ;)