This post has been sitting in my draft folder for almost 2 months. I click back to it every week or so, finding myself staring at my screen in doubt. It’s one of those emotional posts that I always hesitate to click “publish”. After all, I know people who have lost a daughter, sister, husband, father, son, grandfather this year. It seems perhaps innapropriate to wallow in pity over the loss of a very sick 12 year old Chihuahua. But recently, my friend Kim had to put her beloved LuLu to sleep, and I thought it maybe it is time to revisit this post. I hereby declare it is ok to be sad about missing a dog, even in the midst of others suffering worse pain. To Rosie and LuLu, together may you be drinking bacon grease from the doggie dishes on the Rainbow Bridge! You are so very missed.
12 years ago, I dragged my reluctant (on a lot of levels) Then Boyfriend/Now Husband into Haines City, Florida, looking to acquire a prized pedigree white tea cup chihuahua as a companion for Meester Fernandez, my very cranky chi purchased from a bucolic town in Georgia 2 years prior. As the internet presented, I was under the assumption we were going to an esteemed breeder. Instead, we stumbled into a trailer park with 88 chihuahuas stuffed into 3 metal crates presided over by a lady with an overstuffed doll collection and a decades younger boyfriend. To this day, I still regret not calling the authorities.
While we were presented the 1 lb “Brenda’s Beguiled Beastly Love”, who I initally inquired about and who was lying on a satin pillow in a baby crib, (YES THIS PLACE WAS UBER CREEPY) I couldn’t help but notice a crate in the kitchen with a few dejected puppies. When I inquired, I was told those pups were unfit for sale- runts,rejects, deformities, etc. When I asked her what would become of them, she whipped her greasy, wiry ankle length braid over her shoulders and gave me a “whatever” face. I looked hard at My Then Boyfriend/Now Husband. There was a tiny puppy in the corner…she was whimpering, had a gash on her side, and mites were crawling out of her ears. I don’t know much but I knew then we had to take her and save her from becoming chihuahua potpie.
And save her, we did. Every day was a gift – she went to the vet in Tampa, and I was scolded for buying her from a puppy mill. The normal inoculations sent her to the ER as she filled up like a puffer fish and needed Benadryl to get through the night. Ever tear your ACL? Well, Rosie blew out three of four and we never go them fixed. Named after the protagonist in the Springsteen song Rosalita, she took on that artist’s penchant for blue collar strife – seemed like every day was really a gift as this dog was always up against it in the early days….
…..fast forward 11 mostly glorious years ….three kids have shown up, and all she did was kiss and love all over them….never once losing her cool….
After a recent rapid weight loss and near constant thirst, the formerly obese Rosie was diagnosed with diabetes during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2013. The day of her diagnosis, I tearfully made a promise to care for her as an atonement for the neglect she suffered as each new baby popped into our lives. I spent the following 11 months dutifully giving her twice daily insulin shots which left her yelping in agony and always flinching when she heard me coming to fetch her in the laundry room. And now I was the scary monster from whom my dog cowered.
Her anxiety level, which was always high, skyrocketed in the beginning of the summer. We started hearing repeated ramming on the laundry room door at 4 AM. Over and over again. Rosie was ramming her head into the door to get out. I would rush downstairs to let her out, to just watch her amble back onto her bedding. Our compassionate and wonderful veterinarian (by the way- what veterarian have you met that isn’t an amazing human being?) told us that was a sign of the beginning stages of doggie dementia. On top of diabetes. On top of blindness, on top of just being a severly nervous dog.
How agonizing for her.
I had to make a choice on her behalf. A choice that I avoided making at Thanksgiving. But
we I waited. I knew she was never going to recover, but the fact that I was deciding to extend or cease her life was a burden to my conscience. And it had to be my call, because Rosie was truly The Husband’s dog…
The morning we called the vet to bring her in, I intended to spend the day holding and caring for her. Telling her how loved she was, thanking her for always adoring the next baby I brought home, giving away that one more slice of our love and attention. It was easier to sit at my kitchen table and look at her as she lay sunning herself. I remembered how she loved the backyard sun of our Tampa house and the warm saltillo tiles. How I emailed my mother-in-law every day of our honeymoon checking in on her and Meester dog. How nothing made her more happy than hearing The Husband come home- well, maybe bacon grease poured over her dog food. How she tried to attack the armadillos that used to nose around our shubbery in Tallahassee during her last patrol of the evening. For the record, she hated snow the most.
As torturous as the decision to put our pet down was, the process was completely peaceful. She would be the last appointment of the day. She was given an overdose of barbiturates, and before the plunger was even halfway down, she was gone – in the arms of The Husband. It happens so fast and all at once, I lost control of the situation. Rosie was gone.
The Husband, My Dad and I buried her at my parents’ Pet Cemetary (of course they have one), wrapped in The Middle’s favorite green tattered shirt, right inbetween Luca and Bear, much more ferocious dogs who are helping her defeat the evil armadillos that may be lurking at the Rainbow Bridge.
Rosie lived a great life, considering how unfortunate it began. In retrospect, I wish I had the courage to end her pain earlier than I did, but feel solace in the fact that she is at peace.