Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saying goodbye to a good friend.

My little dog, Gidget, is being put to sleep tomorrow. She and Boomer were the first "kids" I've ever had the complete responsibility for so this is incredibly hard for me… harder even more so because I’m trying to be strong for Josh. He’s old enough to know that she will be gone and won’t ever be back. He’s had a lot of questions about death because of this and I’m trying my best to answer him in a way he will understand. He wants to make sure that when they do it, it’s not going to hurt her… that “daddy’s going to be there with her so she’s not scared”.

Tonight at the dinner table, he just lost it… He’s asked me why we can’t have the surgery for her and try to make her better. Honestly, I fear that what’s on the outside of her is only the tip of the iceberg and feel that she probably has more wrong with her than we realize.

Gidget is a spunky little girl… my mom and her friend Vel brought her home from Trader’s Village (I think) or Canton – one of the flea markets. The person selling her actually released her too early – she was a week and a half short of being old enough to be adoptable. She was SO tiny… and was brought to me in a shoebox. This soft little black and white Boston Terrier. I couldn’t think of a good name. My mom wanted me to call her “Buttons”…so that I’d have Boomer and Buttons. Her name was ALMOST Gucci but I chose Gidget after seeing an infomercial for a rerun of the Sally Field TV series of the same name. It just stuck.

Having another puppy again really wasn’t what I wanted but my mom thought Boomer was lonely and that he needed a friend.

She was such a little cutie… I had her in a laundry basket by the bed and she hated being in there so at night, I’d pick her up and put her in the bed with me. That turned her into my little lap dog. She was just like having a baby… get her up, make her food. She was so little that it had to be softened up in milk first. I’d then take her outside to do her business – nearly every 3-4 hours – even sometimes at 2 am (very much like having a baby – getting up that much) and then try to get her back to sleep when she was then ready to play!

We went through a spell with her getting the “snorts” is what I called them. The vets nebulized her and said she needed to grow into her epiglottis because it possibly was long and tickling the back of her throat – common in pug nosed dogs. One night it was especially bad so I thought I’d give her some baby medicine… little did I know it had caffeine in it and I gave her WAY too much and she was like a little Chihuahua dog on about 50 cups of coffee. Boy when she crashed .. she CRASHED and slept for like a day. I was so paranoid I’d damaged her.

She was always the one that would lay right next to me in bed for a while IF you pet her…otherwise, she wanted to root under the covers and lay at your feet. Usually the entire bed would start shaking (she got too hot and was panting) so you’d have to raise the covers up and either put her on the floor, or at least make her move to a cool spot.

She loved to play ball. The funny thing is the dynamic between Boomer and Gidget – in the house, Boomer wouldn’t ever let her catch the ball but outside, she’d kick some tail! She loved to chase balls! We’d go buy her little play balls and just throw them on the ground and they’d run themselves silly out there with those things.

Gidget took everything very personal. If another dog was in trouble, she’d slink away and hide thinking the backlash would come her way as well. Her little ears would lay flat on her head… she was just very sensitive.

I’d never known a dog to hold a grudge but boy she did. Josh’s father has a half-brother named Jason. When we were living in Colorado, they came out one year for Christmas. Gidget had JUST been fixed so her tummy had stitches and was still very tender. Jason couldn’t seem to remember this and kept trying to pick her up which, I’m sure, hurt like the dickens. Years after, when he’d come around her, she’d just snarl. LOL… I got a kick out of it b/c I just thought it was too funny….

She had some quirky habits and characteristics… she HATED having her toenails trimmed. I’d NEVER clipped them too close or made them bleed but she would lie on her back and just shake all over. It was funny… in the last few years…. She started eating poop in the back yard. I’d catch her and she was like “BUSTED” and would put her ears down like she knew she was in trouble. I’d leave her in the back yard for a little while just to make sure I wasn’t going to have to pick it up again. YUCK. The other habit she had was that of caring for others – she like to lick ankles, toes, feet. That’s how she showed her love. Each of her front paws has four white nails and one black one. And her crooked little tail… most Bostons either have a snubbed tail or just a little tiny tail but hers was longer than most… and crooked. It was special – just like her. As a pup, our home in Abilene had wooden floors and she would slide across them… get under your feet and you’d wind up pushing her across the floor. So now, as an old woman, if you get near her walking, she just squeaks like “HEY WATCH IT BUDDY!” It’s annoying but that’s why she does it. When you least expect it is when she does it too…. And it kinda freaks you out.

She is a smart dog and knows where her room is – I’d put her and Boomer either in the closet on some blankets or the laundry room on blankets to sleep together so that they weren’t alone – company is always good to make you feel safe. And besides, they’re buddies. I don’t know what Boomer is going to do without her. Thor doesn’t like anyone… I fear his day isn’t too far behind hers. I always say Boomer is my favorite because he is just smart and gentle…but she’s my favorite in her own way… I could pick her up and carry her around…and used to all the time until Josh was born. I don’t think she knew what to do when someone else took the place on my lap. But she’s my favorite in that she let me carry her like my little one, she liked laying near me in bed and keeping me company. She was the first one when I walked in the door to be excited that I’m HOME! It’s just little old me and you’d have thought I was covered in t-bones just because I walked in the door. She was that glad just to see me. She was MY loyal dog.

Gidget is a brave little thing… she may have been the little dog in the house but in her mind… she was bigger than Thor, the Rotweiller. She’d snarl and growl at him… snap too. Thor would look at her like she was crazy and just walk away like “whatever”.

Over the past couple of years, she’s developed a growth or series of growths. One on her right side is about the size of a non-shelled pecan. It didn’t look bad just weird… just a lump. Then on May 1, 2006, when I took her to the vet, she had a spot on her back just above her tail. It was the size of a dime and just looked like a scab. I was worried because that was how the other “tumor” started. Today, at the end of July, it’s literally the size of a hockey puck and is ulcerated and causing her great discomfort. They can do surgery but this I just what we can see on the outside of her… who knows what is on the inside. The surgery alone – and getting her teeth cleaned (I’ve been afraid to do since Boomer aspirated under anesthesia for his growth removal) was about $700. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of money… but when the unknown is greater than the known… sigh… what do you do.

Her health -- the vet did say her heart sounded great and that all in all she wasn’t old in his mind just that the growth needed to be removed. Her eyesight is going, though… one eye is totally cloudy but she's still got vision in the other. You can see that she uses her hearing more to know where noises come from because when I call her, she doesn’t look for me, but she listens for where I am. Then she goes searching until she can see my shadow… I know she’s just getting old.

For the past couple of weeks, I took an old t-shirt and cut about a 6” band off the bottom. I then slit that and made a long bandage… I’ve been putting rags on the ulcerated tumor and then tying the band around her waist so that she was protected (from flies, the other dogs, etc.) and so that the furniture and my carpet was protected. She is so uncomfortable and keeps turning upside down on her back rubbing back and forth across the carpet to scratch it which, in turn, leaves a bloody mess for me to clean up.

For the past couple of days, she’s been getting spoiled. I’ve been dragging their fuzzy blue blanket around wherever I am for her to lie on. She knows I want her there…

I’ve been giving her extra treats – bacon grease in her food, extra food, lots of cookies… and plenty of pats on the head, scratches behind the ears… I tried to hold her last night when I just broke down on my knees in the laundry room… and she backed up and sniffed at my tears… then licked them away… like “don’t cry mom”… she has no idea… has been so spunky and happy today… and tomorrow it just all stops.

I feel like I’m letting her down. I feel like a traitor. I’m the one that is supposed to take care of her and I can’t even be there to hold her because I’m so selfish that I know I just can’t take it. But if something were happening to me… she’d be there…

Connections with pets are such strange things… Pets are so loyal -- so trusting… even when they’ve done something to let you down, they will try to return to you to get your acceptance and approval back. They want to approach you to let you know they’re sorry. Connections with them are almost deeper than a connection with another person because pets offer something that no person can … unconditional love. So with their demise, so goes your unconditional love.

So, tomorrow is just going to suck. I wanted to get one last picture of me and Gidget together… the last good one I have is from when she’s a puppy… but I’m going to have red puffy eyes and a tear stained face. Not the most photogenic of photo ops. Josh wants some photos… so we’ll try to do that in the morning when everyone is fresh… We’ll take her outside in the front yard and let her play ball one last time…. We’ll take her to Arby’s for lunch and get her a roast beef sandwich and some curly fries… we’ll give her a lot of love and attention… we’ll shed a lot of tears and probably just cry and hold one another when they leave at 2:45 for the appointment at the vet…my home will be 4 feet shorter, one tail fewer and many heavy hearts full. She was my dog… She was my friend… and tomorrow she’ll be gone forever.

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