Monday, February 16, 2009

Good-bye Old Friend.

Well, we lost our old dog this week. Chrissie was a smart old girl with a silly smile that she was practically famous for among our friends and family. She's been a part of our family for many wonderful years, but her time ran out much to our great sadness. We're going to miss her a lot.

I hesitate to tell the story of her last hours. Partly because it's still really fresh in my mind and it's hard to talk about, but also because it sounds made up. If someone else told me what I'm about to tell you I'm not sure I'd believe it myself, but I tell you it's absolutely true. My son was there and he's able to remind me that it wasn't in my head.

She was almost twelve years old when we were told she had cancer. What do you say when you find out a thing like that? We couldn't really afford to shell out the kind of money they were asking for the surgery and they told us that at her age the surgery was at least as risky as doing nothing. Many older dogs don't recover from the anesthesia after a surgery of that sort, and we were aware that at her age she would probably never fully recover even if she did live through it. In the end we decided just to bring her home, pray for her, and give her the best life we could for the rest of her life, however long it would be. She did well for about a year.

A lot happened during that year that I'll skip over. Not all of it was good. We did however get to baby her and pet her a lot, spoil her and give her extra attention. Then about Christmas time she began to slow down pretty drastically. I actually thought she was getting arthritic. She was active and happy when she was up, or down, it was just going from one to the other that seemed to bother her. I had forgotten somehow, believe it or not, that anything else was wrong.

Then last week right after my birthday she took a sudden and drastic turn for the worse. She stopped getting up at all, and she was barely eating. The last two days she wouldn't eat, and finally she got to where she couldn't hold down any water either. Her breathing was very labored and she was obviously dieing, and suffering. It was horrible, and I knew I had to take her in and have her put down the next day if she made it through the night. She did, and I took her. It was sad. Really sad.

We took her in and they very kindly gave her a pain shot right away. It was the first time in a few days that she really relaxed and breathed easily and it was nice to see. They gave us a few minutes to be with her, and we petted and kissed and cried and snotted , and then they had us leave the room when they gave her "the shot". I asked if they would let me return to see her after she was dead and they said that would be fine, so we stood outside the door while they did the deed.

We waited for what seemed like a long time, but in reality it was probably only about five or six minutes. They came back and got me and told me that she was dead and that I could go in and see her. I went in and she was still and lifeless. It was done. I was walking over to her to pet her one more time and cover her up with her blanket when she started breathing again. She raised up her head, looked at me in the eyes and gave me one of her goofy smiles. She layed her head back down and looked at me for another long minute while I petted her, then her gaze floated away from mine, she went still again and died... again.

The woman that was attending her couldn't believe it as she prepared a second shot. She said she'd never seen anything like that in all the time she'd been there. I'm thinking then why now, and why us? I was afraid to leave! I wanted to know she was dead, I waited to be sure, and even though I saw it for myself this time, I was afraid to leave her there. I had dreams that she roused herself again after I left, and was alone and all kinds of awful things happened.

I don't know why I felt that way. The woman who gave her the shot has told me that she must have really loved her people to come back and tell me good bye and that everything was okay. My husband said the same thing. She was such a pleaser that it would be like her to do that, but that just sounds too spooky and oogy-boo to me. It sounds almost like too easy of an explanation, for lack of a better way of phrasing it. On the other hand, what else could it possibly be? She came back around, met my gaze, gave me her "trademark" smile, and died.

I do not know. Not at all.

So, she is gone and the place feels a little empty without her. Not many dogs are as smart as that one and even fewer are as well behaved. Her funny habits will never be replaced. The kids absent mindedly wait by the door a little extra moment when the puppy comes in, until it dawns on them that she's not coming in after her. She's almost always been a part of our boy's lives. We had her most of Jonathan's life and all of Josiah's. Beth, our puppy, wanders around looking for her in all the places she used to lay. She's pretty lonesome without her, too. It's all she'd ever known. I guess maybe she needs a companion puppy now. Yeah, yeah, that's it. Bethy needs a puppy!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Valentine's Day Message

It's been a hard time for us lately, and I haven't had any time to be on my computer. Things will be normalizing a bit soon, and I'll be back. Until then, I am going to cheat and re-post my Valentine's Day post from last year . I liked it anyway. LOL!

Cry Baby

What kind of a thing is Valentines Day? We call them "Hallmark" holidays at our house. We started calling them that because Hallmark's slogan is "When you care enough to send the very best." The idea is to get people to the point that if they don't get a card then they feel they weren't "cared" for enough to receive the very best. Appeal to our most base level emotions. Sink below the reason and intellect and go for the selfishness in us. Smart marketing! It's very effective. They are targeting a consumer base comprised mostly of emotionally immature people. After a few years of repetitive marketing of this sort, it sunk into the subconscious of our entire culture. It was plenty easy to do, since our culture is so feelings oriented anyway. People will scream, cry, start horrible fights, get courts, law, and even governments involved anymore if something "insensitive" is done to them, and their little feelings are hurt. They call it many things, but it's just hurt feelings and somebody has to pay! Can't you just see the image in your mind of little three year old children with their little arms folded and their little bottom lips stuck out like a back porch?

These kinds of "holidays" were created by marketing firms to wring a few more dollars out of gullible Americans. That's all. No romance, no thoughtfulness, not a lick of appreciation. Just dollars. It works, so they keep creating them. How about Mother's Day?" I'm a mother everyday, and if you need Hallmark to tell you it's time to notice it, spare yourself the buck and a half. If I need so much maintenance that you have to spoon-feed me platitudes all the time, then I have a few more issues than Hallmark can fix!

Same for Valentine's Day. What about National Secretary's Day? Then Boss' Day? Ridiculous things are now "Holidays." The brilliant marketing minds would turn them all into consumer events as big as Christmas if they could (or is that "winter holiday?" Don't get me started!). If you don't think so, look what they've done with Halloween. It wouldn't work for them, but so many small minded people swallowed the bait! Now that it's been formally adopted by our society, the rest of us almost have to get on board! "Oh, don't get me a gift on Valentine's Day (Mother's Day, or Take a Troll to the Laundry Day!) if you can't treat me nice the rest of the time!" Nice thought, but let your sweetheart skip the Valentine's gift and nice all year or not, he's in the dog house until who knows when. Until he can buy his way out I guess.

Isn't having your own personal "holiday" once a year enough? It's called a birthday. Your birthday is the day with no other special designated purpose. You don't have to share. You can be openly and honestly self indulgent, petty, and demanding and you can probably get some of the attention you crave. Yeah, okay now, there's nothing wrong with celebrating a birthday at all. There are times when a little of this kind of thing is fine, but I think you get my point. My suggestion to people is grow up a little!

You know what my sweetheart did for me for Valentine's Day? He helped me with a problem I was having before he sat down and played with his new camera, something that he'd wanted for many, many years. Now THAT'S a Valentine's gift! You know what else he did for me for Valentine's Day? And for Mother's Day, Father's Day, our anniversary, my birthday, his birthday, the kid's birthdays, Forth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day and just about every real holiday plus all the ones Hallmark thought up? He went to work so we could pay bills, have decent clothes and nice things. And he didn't even give me a card!