Your Pet Tributes'Baby'
by Courtney Keskinen
On a bright sunny morning around Labor Day 2005, a little black dog was lying alone in a crate at the animal rescue fair. The other dogs were jumping, barking and excitedly trying to get the attention of passersby but this particular dog was too weak for such excitement; he had undergone his final treatment for heartworms. The treatment had saved his life but had taken a toll - his black coat had scarce spots with small missing patches and his body was thin and frail. He had successfully beat two cases considering in past years, heartworms had been a death sentence. This dog was a fighter! It would be discovered later, that this was only the beginning of how special this animal truly was.
This particular morning, an older woman and her daughter were walking by the pet store and happened to notice this small creature, keeping to himself and lying quietly in the background while the other dogs continued their antics. The older woman had finally come to terms with her grief of losing another dog six months before and was beginning to open her eyes to the prospect of another pet.
Her daughter pointed out the small, lonely dog and they asked for the opportunity to walk him around the pet store. One jaunt around the store was all that the woman needed to make her decision: this was her new pet! However, due to living on a fixed income, she was hesitant if she had the money for the rescue fee and her daughter quickly stepped in to help with the financial aspect of this dog, seeing the much greater value.
The woman took the dog home where the dog quickly regained his strength and a new vigor for life. The woman would make meals for herself, sharing special treats with the dog. This dog became the very reason the woman would get out of bed each morning, her constant companion and friend to care for and giving her added purpose. Her family would come to visit and take her for dinner and she would enjoy her time with them, but she was always eager to get back home to see her special friend.
About a year and a half later, the woman fell ill. She had been having troubles with her heart and eventually had to go in to the hospital for surgery. The little dog waited day and night for her to return. The woman’s son and daughter-in-law would come by the house to feed and walk the little dog, seeing that the little dog yearned for his master to come home. Her bed pillows had been pulled off the bed and dragged to the front door, where the dog would lie, surrounded by her comforting scent.
The woman was surrounded by loved ones, visiting and praying for her recovery. Through her stay, her one concern was the welfare of her precious pet. She was reassured that he was being well cared for.
Sadly, the woman never returned home. She passed away in the hospital after a long stay. She had been a fighter as well but the struggle had become too much for her body to handle.
The woman’s grand-daughter stepped in at this point, wanting to take the dog and care for him. She wanted to honor her late grandmother by taking care of the one creature most precious to her. The grand-daughter and her boyfriend brought the dog home where he learned to adapt to his new surroundings. The couple married and continued to love and care for him; he was an extension of their newfound immediate family. He soon became like another person in the family, sleeping in the bed with the couple, getting holiday portraits made, wearing Halloween costumes and even having birthday parties. His health and strong personality had returned in full force and his quirks were ever-present. He was a gentle dog who was good with people of all ages and it was clear that he just loved being with others.
After several years of health and happiness, the little dog’s health began to fail. He had always had an enlarged heart and a heart murmur, but as he aged, things were starting to happen. He no longer had the energy he once had - he no longer could take the long walks he once enjoyed. The couple did everything they could with frequent visits to the animal hospital for the latest medications and recommendations of the vet – anything to keep this dog comfortable, happy and in their family.
Finally, the struggle had become too great – the troubles with his heart had overcome him and his life was not the same anymore. The couple had to make a tough decision - a final act of love to repay this gentle animal for the years of love and kindness he had bestowed upon them.
The struggle was over for this sweet and kind animal but had now begun for the humans he had left behind. Memories of his life in happier and healthier times pervaded the home and most of their surroundings. They had to find a way to move on from his loss - he would never be forgotten or replaced.
Perhaps, he needed to see the older woman who had brought him into the family – they had both been strong fighters for as long as they could… so maybe now they have each other.