Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Just a Dog

Almost 12 years ago I decided it was time for a dog. I went to David Heath's house and picked up this scrawny, skinny, smelly excuse for a dog. She had the most horrific gas ever. I bathed her, fed her, and put her in an orange furry chair and headed off to work. We did this for 3 days. I came home, and she hadn't moved a muscle. She didn't bark, she didn't whine, she was very timid. On the 4th day she literally ate the arm off of the chair. This should have been a warning to us.

We took Cole, as she would come to be called, to the vet. She was healthy, she gained a ton of weight, and we loved her. Then we got another dog to keep her company. Next we put central air in our house to keep them both cool. To say we loved them is an understatement. For more years than I care to admit we did not go on vacation because I didn't trust anyone to watch them.

They slept in my bed, they sat at my feet, they were my pals. Cole was more of a loner. She wanted to be petted on her terms. She wouldn't hurt a fly, but she was a solitary beast. Over the years she lost all of the hair around one eye due to stress, she peed on everything she could find, she ate chicken bones, corn cobs, poop (her's and anyone elses), and ultimately Fiber One brownies.

For more than 11 years, Cole met me at the door, was under my feet, guarded me from the outside, and kept me aware of any approaching visitors.  She was always in the room with me, never out of site.

The vet made a valiant effort, but in the end we had to call it. I had no idea it would hurt this bad. Afterall, it's just a dog. A dog that just two Fridays ago I was ready to kill for eating those dreaded Fiber One Bars. I try very desperately to keep myself insulated from pain. Since Avery came along, the dogs have definitely taken the proverbial back seat, but I haven't loved them any less.

I have really been upset with myself for my reaction to Cole's eating the bars.  I was PISSED.  I said mean things, and I said I didn't care.  The truth is, every time she pulled a stunt like that it scared me to death.  It is so much easier, and less painful for me to be mad than sad.

For the last few days I have pondered why this is so hard.  After all, it's just a dog.  I think this is my conclusion...... Life is about bumps, bruises, divets, and hurts.  It is those pock marks that let us grow, move forward, and learn.  You can't do that if you don't just love some smelly little something with every fiber of your being.  I remember being in the hospital with Avery and wondering how the dogs would ever forgive me for uprooting their lives in such a dramatic way.  Honestly, I don't know that they ever did, but we all adjusted, and Cole never once turned a mean look Avery's way.

Signing the papers today was painful, watching her go was gut wrenching.  I sobbed, I wailed, and I was consumed with guilt.  I feel like in the end I let her down, and that more than anything, hurts my heart.  She was a GREAT dog.  She burped, farted, ate poop, had stinky breath, acted like the slightest touch was killing her, but until the last week she never seemed anything but glad to see me.

To anyone who thinks, it's just a dog......... take a long hard look in the mirror.  You aren't doing something right.