Saturday, March 24, 2012

And Then There Were Four

"The one best place to bury a good dog 
is in the heart of his master."



A small scrap of a dog, he paced nervously in front of the gate, his cagemate whining and pawing at the the metal fencing. He stood as tall as his long, thin legs could reach, sticking his little nose through the chain link and into my waiting palm. Surrendered by an abusive former owner, Chance was six years old and bonded to the chubby daushund mix, Baby, who waited anxiously for me to slip through the gate and into their cage. I slid to the floor and folded my legs around them both. Chance clambered over Baby's broad back as she licked my jeans, climbing up my chest like a goat. At twelve pounds, he looked like a chihuahua on stilts, his twig-like legs out of proportion to the rest of him. I stroked his ears, murmured platitudes, and then took them both home.
  
At six and eight, they were considered senior dogs and needed to be adopted together. Lucky to be placed at a no-kill shelter, their chances of being adopted were slim. Chance growled like a gremlin when excited, his trachea partially collapsed from being beaten. One dog soon became five but Chance had claimed me as his. Lying in the grass while I gardened, he would doze, waking at my slightest movement to watch me as I puttered. He slept against my chest when I read on the couch, small contented sighs sputtering to the surface as he slipped off to sleep.

He'd been listless all week, mopey and out of sorts. He needed his teeth cleaned and I worried about infection. His little belly was rounder than usual and I prayed silently as I headed for the vet. Tumors circled his organs, his liver bulbous with growth. His abdomen taut with fluid and blood, the vet diagnosed an aggressive liver cancer with no cure or treatment. The family gathered and we said our farewells with Baby at our side. She sniffed his paws and looked away. I'm spreading  his ashes in the garden, where he loved to pee on the plants and harass the squirrels, his tiny paws sidestepping the flowers as he zigzagged through the beds. Dog heaven, I am convinced, contains a garden, squirrels, large grasshoppers perfect for pouncing on, warm blankets, and lots of bacon.


Chance was a rat terrier we adopted  five years ago.

28 comments:

  1. I am sooo... sorry to read this about Chance! It is obvious that he was very loved by you and I am sure he enjoyed being with you. It is always very sad when a pet dies.
    Christina

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  2. Oh, this makes me cry. I am sure that Chance is in doggie heaven chasing squirrels in the garden. What a great life you gave him! How is baby handling the loss? My thoughts are with y'all! xo!

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    1. Baby is depressed. She always treated Chance like her puppy and would give him daily eye baths. I'm taking her to our very pet-friendly garden center today to perk her up. It's one of her favorite things to do. She loves to stare at the chickens in their petting zoo area. She's 13 and had been with him for 11 years. Having three other dogs in the house will help make her mourning period easier.

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  3. I am so sorry for your loss! I am sure Chance will be missed. He will be running around in Heaven I am sure. Thanks for sharing the wonderful story of a very lucky dog and his life with your family!
    Mindy

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  4. So sorry, but glad you will have very fond memories.

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  5. Life is short, and we take turn to go, and we carry forward memories.

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  6. It is so sad to lose a beloved pet. What a compassionate person you are to have provided a happy home for both Chance and Baby in their senior years. Your memorial to Chance brought tears to my eyes. We volunteer one day a week at a no kill shelter and the senior dogs are my favorites!

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  7. Temple Grandin tells us that animals tell us how to be human. They live shorter lives than we do, and so they go before we die in most cases, and teach us how to handle loss. So sorry.

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  8. To jest straszne stracić przyjaciela. Jest mi bardzo, bardzo przykro i smutno. Mój piesek ma w czwartek operację i bardzo się boję, ale myślę pozytywnie. Pozdrawiam.*** It is terrible to lose a friend. I am very, very sorry and sad. My dog has surgery on Thursday and I'm very afraid, but I think positively. Yours.

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  9. Mourning for you and Chance with Toby curled up on my lap, Spike in the chair beside me, Lindy between my feet, Hannah on her rug on the floor, and Auggie in dog heaven.

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  10. I'm so sorry. Posts like this always make me cry, but I also feel good knowing the pet was loved and had a good life.

    Giga, I hope your dog is better soon.

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  11. Thanks for all the love. :o) I was a wreck Friday and Saturday but am a bit better today. Your sweet comments are a wonderful balm.

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  12. I'm so sorry for your loss of a beloved pet and garden companion. What a handsome boy Chance was. You did a very kind thing, giving him a loving home and room to run and explore for so many years. My thoughts are with you!

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  13. What a wonderful tribute to such a sweet little soul. How cool that his 6 years with your family, were his happiest. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. I am so sorry about your little friend. What a wonderful tribute, I enjoyed reading it very much.

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  15. I am so very sorry to hear this. This has to be very tough on your family including your other dogs. It's so nice to hear though that this little guy lived out his last 5 years in a happy home where he was loved.

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  16. So sorry to hear your news. At least he had many happy times with you, and he will live on in your heart.

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  17. I'm sure if Baby could talk she'd say "Thanks for loving me and my buddy and giving us a preview of doggy heaven here on earth".

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  18. Oh man, I am so sorry. You are a kind person to have adopted both of them. These four-legged friends are such a big part of our lives. Good place to scatter the ashes. We scattered our oldest dog's ashes in VA and now I feel bad we have moved. We still talk to her when we are next door at my mom's.

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  19. We adopted a 9 year old Jack Russell about year ago..senior dogs are the best way to go, they appreciate a good thing! Your pup knew life was sweet with you and yours..the greatest gift we can give..

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  20. I am so sorry to hear about Chance. I know that your family will miss him. Both of you were blessed to have each other.

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  21. My heart is heavy for you today CM. It took me a long time to get over the loss of my last dog. (Sorry, not a very cheer up statement). I've noticed our other pets are very quiet for about a week and sadness seems to radiate off them. Then they seem to pick up. As with much else in life they've got a good handle on mourning.

    The ashes of all our former pets are still in the house, I thought they would like to be in the centre of the family. Not very peaceful I admit. Now we are moving we decided to leave them here, in the garden they all enjoyed so much.

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  22. This is the one and only truly bad thing about pets, their lives are shorter than our own. But your story made me smile in your general direction :) he ended up being a lucky dog!

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  23. What a wonderful second chance at life your Chance had, with lots of love, doggy companions, and a garden to frolic in.

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  24. Tammy, I'm in tears, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that Chance is feasting on bacon, pouncing on grasshoppers and chasing squirrels up there in dog heaven. I am sure he misses you though, as much as you miss him.

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  25. I am so sorry for your loss. Chance and Baby were lucky that you found them.

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  26. Oh, I'm so sorry. But boy, did he love you! He knew, he knew...he's still with you in the garden.

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