Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Must Love Dogs

We are animal lovers. I have had a variety of pets since I left my parent’s house at 18. I’ve had a bird, cats and dogs. Without a doubt, dogs are my favorite. They greet you at the door every day and they are always excited to see you. We currently have two dogs and I would absolutely have more but EN swears “NO MORE.” Besides, people give you funny looks if you have more than two.

Brigette was my first dog. Her mother was a purebred Keeshond and belonged to my aunt. One day, the dog went for an unsupervised walk around the neighborhood and came home knocked up. Brigette was born on April 10, 1992. She came to live with me later that year and was by far the worst dog I ever owned. She was downright naughty. She never met a piece of candy or trash can that she didn’t covet. She was spoiled rotten and was never even left home alone until she was more than six months old. I paid for that dearly and she never behaved when left unattended. She tore through linoleum flooring, solid wood doors, couches… you name it. Brigette had bad hips and I was told when she was a puppy that I could expect her to live to be eight years old. Her hips never stopped her and she near doubled her life expectancy. She had a big mouth and barked at everyone, but was loyal to me and very protective, especially when EN was away from home. She was a big, strapping girl, weighing in around 70 pounds at her high point. But for as big and mouthy as she was, she was terrified of loud noises and thunderstorms.
Brigette loved nothing better than a good snowstorm!

In the fall of 1993, my sister ran into an old friend who had come across a dog that she couldn’t keep. My sister called me to see if I would take her and swore that this dog would be small, “She has little feet!” Dusty kept her little feet her whole life but her body grew to about 55 lbs around those feet. She and Brigette became best friends and slept together and raised hell together daily. Their escapades are still spoken of with reverence all these years later: the cheesecake they stole off a counter during a dinner party; the 5 lb bag of sugar they ripped open and spread all over the kitchen floor (for those of you not in the know, dog spit + sugar = glue which must be removed by scraping with a plastic spatula); their road trip to the local pizza joint on trash night…

Dusty always wanted to be with her people.
While they were naughty, they adored people and loved having company come over. Unsuspecting guests could always be counted on to share a snack. When we brought Sugar and Spice home, both dogs immediately adored the girls and guarded them attentively. Their love for the girls only grew once they discovered that these little creatures were eating and THROWING FOOD from the high chair.

Even though they were joined at the hip constantly, they couldn’t have been more different. Brigette did what she wanted, when she wanted. She loved winter and would follow EN around while he used the snow blower. She would bark and bark until the flying snow hit her. Dusty was my shadow and I tripped over her every day. She hated the cold and basked in warm sunlight. Brigette would leap off the deck into the yard and chase all the little creatures off “her” property. If Dusty went out alone, she ignored the other animals and walked peacefully among them.

In the summer of 2005, it became apparent that Brigette was having a hard time walking. We put a ramp on the deck stairs and often carried her upstairs to bed. Since Dusty suffered from severe separation anxiety, I thought it would be a great idea to bring in a new dog before Brigette passed away. Enter Indiana, Jack Russell Terrier. Once again, these old gals opened up their hearts and included him in the pack. I’m not sure what he gave to them, but Brigette got a new lease on life and lived for several more years.

Despite the fact that Brigette got deathly ill from her escapades, she never stopped getting into things. She celebrated her 15th birthday by climbing onto the kitchen table and eating all of the girls’ Easter candy. At that point, I thought “this is it, she can’t survive this.” A huge vet bill later, Brigette was back home and eating her home-cooked diet of boiled chicken and rice. Again, the vet expressed shock that Brigette had lived as long as she had and could still function as her hips were a disaster.

During that year, we saw a huge decline with both Brigette and Dusty. Brigette became incontinent and I was mopping the floor several times a day and washing her bedding daily. The day finally came that we realized that she needed to be put down. We took the girls to school and EN and I took her to the vet. I was armed with several packages of Reeses peanut butter cups, her favorite. Somehow she seemed to find strength between our house and the vets office. She gobbled up her candy and refused to lie down, even after the vet gave her the first “relaxation shot.” I can still see her sinking to the floor in slow motion. We patted her and rubbed her and told her we loved her as she passed peacefully. EN cuddled her and said, “You were a great dog, Pooh!” I stopped crying long enough to say, “Seriously?! Let’s not lie to her!”

Dusty never seemed at peace without her sister and lasted only six more months. Hers was a difficult decline to watch as well. My Velcro dog slept all the time and forgot to follow me around. I started to miss her even before she was gone. In September, we brought Dusty to the vet and the car ride had the opposite effect on her. When we got there, she could no longer walk and I had to help her through to the private office. She ate her Girl Scout cookies and curled up with her head on my lap. I’m certain she was gone before the vet gave her the shot. As I cradled her little face, a tear seemed to fall from her eye. We stayed with her for a very long time and on the drive home, EN asked if I too had seen the tear. I said I had but then told him we should probably never tell other people that, no one would believe our dog had cried a real tear. I will swear to my dying day that I saw my sweet old girl cry.

This left poor Indiana an “only dog.” EN tells everyone that I’m full of it, but I think he became depressed and was very lonely. What’s a doggie mama to do? Find a friend for our baby boy, of course. I found Bella Boo on Craigslist. Unlike the warm welcome the old girls gave Indy, he was quite pissed and radiated bad attitude for days. Now the two of them are best friends who fight, eat and play together. She’s as fat and fluffy as he is little and skinny.  
Indy and Bella snuggling.

Even though there are new dogs in my home, I still miss my old girls terribly. Both were cremated and I have their remains in the house. I’m not sure where to put them but I think I’ll need them with me forever. Sugar wanted to have funerals and bury their remains, but what if we ever left this house? I can’t leave my girls behind.

Spice was only two when we lost them and I asked her about Brigette and Dusty today, I wondered if she remembered them. She described them down to the length and color of their fur and said, “They were really sweet. I miss them.”

So do I. 

Ice Princess

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