My dog of 13 years, the best dog in the world as far as my family and non-dog owner friends are concerned, has been rapidly getting older and slower and more arthritic. My mum called me today and told me through tears that our dog fell over today and just couldn’t get her feet back under her. The vet who’s looked after her since she was a puppy and seen her through countless operations because dammit that animal never got any sense, always running out and getting hit by cars… well, the vet said “you have to let that dog keep her dignity.”
And my mum is going to put her down tonight, or maybe tomorrow, I’m waiting on an update. But oh, I’m so so sad. When she first told me I was mostly just sad for my mum because the dog has been like a replacement child since I left home, and she’s my mum’s friend and companion and she’s really part of the family. But then I started really thinking back and to realise the full weight of her part in my life…
We got her when I was 12. I had a bunch of cats before that but they kept getting hit by cars and dying in the same spot near our house and I was so heartbroken, I said no more cats! I don’t know why I thought it would be easier to lose a dog, but hey. I was 12, and I had loved those cats so much I couldn’t imagine a stupid dog would worm its way into my heart so easily.
The other reason for getting a dog was that as a 12 year old with not a whole lot of friends, I had this fantasy that if i had a puppy, I would be out walking my cute puppy and all the young attractive guys would be hanging out and they’d see my puppy and pet it and ask me questions and then ask me out or something. I don’t know, I guess I thought life was like in sex and the city where even if you look like a giant tanned foot, the world was full of good looking peope ready to make a move if you just give them a meet cute.
I begged my parents to let me get a dog. They said no, a dog is so much hard work. You have to walk it every day. You have to train it. I said yes, I promise, I’ll walk it everywhere. All the time. I pictured myself with my dog hanging out with the cool kids and my dog protecting me from rapists and barking at people who wanted to get all up in my grill. And I’d train my dog so well it would be able to do amazing tricks and then I’d have even more friends. And my dog would be a hero dog. To my parents I played up on the whole protection, defence, and I’d be getting some outdoor excercise aspects. They believed me. For some reason.
I remember the day I picked out this shivering little puppy from a group of its yelping brothers and sisters who were all shitting and jumping up at me. She was the little sad looking one, extremely cute, the size of my hand, so goddamn cute… She was a little sad puppy and she was so afraid and I took her home and she shat all over me but I didn’t care too much because she was so cute and little.
She was so afraid at first I felt guilty for taking her from her family and I gave her my sweatshirt to sleep with because it smelt like me, and I cleaned up after her and fed her and cared for her. We soon realised she wasn’t the sweet, scared, runt of the litter. She was riddled with worms. Once the worms were all gone which was not a pretty few days…. we discovered the kind of animal we had committed to. She didn’t just want a little shuffle down the cul-de-sac, she wanted to climb mountains and run up hills and swim in the sea and she wanted the ball thrown for her a million times a day and she never lost it even when I tried to hide it from her because it was gross and covered in slime. If I had kept this activity up I would have probably been quite fit…
Except I soon got bored of the repetitive nature of responsibility and maybe got a new sims game and my mum stepped in and raised the puppy. I was still there for the fun times and for cuddles but frankly after a couple of short, boring walks with my extremely cute dog, I realised it might have been a good conversation starter but that didn’t help the fact that there were no hunks or gangs of cool, friendly pre-teens in my area.
So my mum was responsible for feeding her, walking her, washing her, etc. The job of disciplinarian… well I guess no one thought of that. My dog was fun, great with kids, great at dealing with parties, sociable, playful, sweet, loving, but she didn’t exactly follow any orders, ever. But she was very sweet and gentle.
When I was a teenager and boys were mean and broke my heart or didn’t call or didn’t treat me nicely, or girls were bitchy and left me out, when I wasn’t invited to a party or someone said “god Abby do you ever shut up?” or someone accidentally said something that I had a great personality which was more important than looks, or my parents yelled at me…
My dog was there, not understanding but just resting her pointy long nose on my knee and pushing me over the edge into tears. I cried so many tears into her silky fur, hugging her tight and wishing she could talk so we could be friends, because I knew she’d be the best friend ever. She was there for me all the time. She had person eyes, understanding soft brown eyes like a person. I sang songs to her, silly nonsensical songs about how she was a dog, how she looked like a dog, and how she looked like an aardvark, and how she was my conical dog as when she sat on her back legs and you pointed her nose up in the air she was shaped like a traffic cone. I liked to speak in a weird accent and say “ears” and fold her ears on top of her head. She has very silky ears. All these weird little things we do with our dogs. They just sit their, no idea what we’re doing, and put up with it and love us.
She’s still alive now but she’s so old and tired and destroyed from 13 years of kicking ass in the dog world. She’s nearly died so many times due to reckless behaviour but she’s always bounced back. Now her legs are so fucked, she can’t stand up, and I guess tomorrow she’ll be gone.
I’m not a huge animal person, I like animals in the wild, doing their own thing. I’m not a huge dog person, I like dogs but I’m not a dog person. But it really does hurt like fuck when you lose someone special in your life, even if they are just a dog. Yeah, just a dog- she’s the only one in my family who never gave me any shit.
Wow, I did not aniticipate being so fucking upset. I wish I was there to say goodbye, not that it means anything but fuck, I feel awful that I’m not there right now. I’m going to miss her like crazy when I go home…
And my mum is going to be absolutely heartbroken.