Today was hard. I had to bury our 15-year-old dog. We knew it was coming. About a month and a half ago I took Kisses to the vet because she was panting heavily and had very little energy. She was limping and didn’t want to put any weight on her left hind leg. I saw that some of her nails were overgrown so I cut them to give her some relief, but accidentally cut one nail too short. She started bleeding heavily. I’ve made that mistake before, so I knew what to do. Unfortunately, she kept bleeding. Since the homemade recipe wasn’t working, I had to go to the pet store and buy some quick stop. That worked in conjunction with heavy bandages wrapped around her foot.
I took Kisses to the vet that week as soon as they had an opening. The vet informed us that she was sick and had a very low white blood cell count. That was why she bled so heavily. She could have died from that. We were given a couple of different kinds of meds which we administered with a spoonful of chunky peanut butter. Chunky so that she couldn’t tell the difference between the nuts and the pills, otherwise she would spit them out. One of the meds was very bitter, but she never could tell because of our trick.
The meds really helped her get some of her energy back for awhile, but we noticed she was still slowly deteriorating. Our family had a talk about what to do if I had to have her put down at the next vet appointment. Did the kids want to know she was going to die and have a chance to say their goodbyes or would they rather not know? Did they want the vet to dispose of her remains or should we bury her in the back yard? We figured it out as a family and then focused on getting our pooch feeling better.
For the next month she would feel good one day, much more energy, and then the next day she mostly slept. This pattern continued until this past weekend when she didn’t seem very interested in food or water. She would try to walk to the other side of the living room and then decide to lay down because she was too tired.
Mondays are our Classical Conversations Homeschool Co-op day. The kids had a feeling this morning that they were saying goodbye to Kisses for the last time. I had prayed last night that I would be the one to find her dead and not one of the kids. There were many times over the last couple of weeks when I would see our dog laying down and would go over to pet her to see if she was still with us.
Mondays also happens to be the day when our volunteers come over to help with office duties for our ministry. My Mom, one of our volunteers, found Kisses laying on her side. Her breathing was shallow and her tongue hanging out. She came upstairs to get me. Kisses died before I got down the stairs. I felt really bad because I wanted to be the one to find her. At least it wasn’t one of the kids. I called Becky and together we decided that she should tell the kids at lunchtime and let them decide if they wanted to finish their school day or come home. They decided to stay at the Co-op. That gave me time to bury Kisses before they got home. None of them wanted to see her dead.
I got to work digging a hole in our back yard and I’ll tell you what, in this part of Texas digging a hole wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to spend so much time digging around rocks. I don’t know how much time it took me to finally dig out one rock roughly half the size of my head! Good grief!
I thought about our little dog as I dug. She was one sweet pup. It was my wife Becky’s idea to go to the pound and choose a dog 14 years ago. When we picked her out, the name they had given her was “Chalupa.” As far as we can tell she was part pug, part chihuahua, and she might have had some wiener dog in her too. There was no way we were going to let someone else name our dog, especially something like Chalupa. When we took her home, I decided that we wouldn’t re-name her until we got to know her better. I’ve always liked the idea of naming pets after their own little personalities and idiosyncrasies. We had her for about three days, so I had made a list of five possible names. I knew which one she was, but I wanted our kids to have part in the decision too. I gave them the five names saving “Kisses” for last. As soon as the kids heard it, they literally shouted, “Yes! Kisses! That’s her name!” Yes. That was her name because that’s what she did. She was the licking-est dog in the world.
Most dogs will sniff you out if they don’t know you. Not Kisses. She’d come right up to you and lick you to death. She was so gentle, but I can’t say she wouldn’t hurt a fly, because she enjoyed catching them in midair and eating them. Even in her old age, Daniel, our middle child was able to teach her numerous tricks. She rarely barked or had an accident in the house. Sometimes she would run up the stairs into my office and give me “the look.” I always knew that meant she wanted to go outside. As soon as I would move my chair back from my desk, she would tear down the stairs so relieved that she was about to be… relieved.
Speaking of which, she once had a bladder problem so we took her to our vet. They removed numerous gall stones, one of them so large that our vet still has it in a bottle in his “trophy case.” After the surgery, the vet asked us, “She never had any problem with peeing in the house?” When we said that she didn’t, he replied, “That is one extraordinary animal.”
It is hard to believe she is gone. I’m not one of those who consider dogs on par with people, but this hurts. She always knew her place in our pack. I wouldn’t let her drag me or the kids around when she walked on the leash, she always walked through a door last after the kids, and she always ate after we did. She knew her place and she always accepted it. She welcomed it. People over pets, but somehow dogs have a way of becoming part of the family anyway. I guess that’s some of what makes dogs so special. I wouldn’t be surprised if dogs were the last animal God created. After He made cats, He must have thought, “Hmmm… I need to do better here. Something different than all others in the animal kingdom.” God decided Man needed a friend. A best friend and that’s why God created dogs. I bet the dog was the first to welcome Adam in the garden of Eden.
“Lord, thank you for our dog, Kisses. Thanks for all the great years we had her as part of our family. Thanks for what You taught us through her. We are hurting now, tears in my eyes as I type this, but we look forward to the next dog you have picked out for our family. One just like Kisses would be fine with us.”