Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rest In Peace, My Little Friend

My dog Shooter died today. My dad's and my dog, I should say. Our family got our first dog, Sophie, through a Bichon Frise rescue agency in 1999. Not only was she my first dog, but she was my dad's first dog. So, she really became my dad's dog. The next year, I wanted to get a Yorkie, so we rescued Shooter. He was such a good little friend. He was fun and playful, and he always sensed when I was upset and would come sit in my lap and lick my nose. Like many small dogs, he thought he was actually large and ferocious. He once barked at a big dog at the vet's, and the big dog actually shied away!

I commuted for most of college, but when I finally moved out Shooter stayed at home because I couldn't stand to separate him from Sophie. He also was not fond of Marley, the labradoodle that my husband and I adopted. So, over the last few years, Shooter also became my dad's dog, along with Sophie. Two years ago at the age of 13 Sophie died peacefully at home after my dad ran a doggie hospice for her for a week.

My dad and I have known that Shooter's time was coming. He was 14 and though he was doing well for his age, he was quite frail, and probably deaf, but he didn't always listen to us anyway, so we couldn't be sure. My dad said that Shooter seemed fine all day yesterday, but then one moment last night he wasn't. Daddy now thinks Shoot had a heart attack. My dad called me this morning, but then had to go to work. I was home sick with a sinus infection and decided to just stay home until my dad got back from work and called me. Then we would see if Shooter was better, gone, or needed to be taken to the emergency vet center.

I feel a bit terrible saying this, but I prayed that Shooter would die peacefully before my dad got home. Being euthanized doesn't seem like a very dignified way to die, and if I'm honest, I didn't want the emotional pain of going through the process. I prayed all day for peace for the three of us. Then around 1:30, I just felt like I should go to my dad's. I have a key, so I went over and found Shooter laying on the floor right next to his bed. He'd been gone for awhile. I started to shake and cry, so I went outside.

I didn't want to interrupt my dad at work to tell him on the phone, so I called my husband and my mom to talk. I prayed for strength and peace for the rest of the day. When my dad came home, I cried some more, he wrapped Shooter in his doggie blanket, and called the vet to find a place to have him cremated. We were referred to Deb at Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation in Bridgeville. We drove him over, and Deb was wonderful. She was very kind, took care of the details efficiently, and listened to the little stories we shared. My dad will get the cremains back in a custom made bag. I picked red fabric with little white hearts on it because his collars had always been red. She will also take a snipping of his fur and wrap it around a silk rose, also red. I'm going to assemble these with Shooter's collar and a photo in a shadow box as a nice remembrance.

My dad asked me if it was silly that he was so upset over a dog. I'm sure some people would say so, but I don't think so at all. As much as the last few chapters of Marley & Me by John Grogan made me cry my eyes out, he made a good point in that we spend more time with our dogs than most people in our lives. Our dogs see us at our best and our worst, and they always love us. They provide companionship, protection (ok, well maybe 6 pound Shooter didn't), and laughter. Shooter was part of our family for 11 years. Of course we are sad, of course we have to mourn. I am just so thankful that he died peacefully without suffering for long and that he left us with so many happy memories. Rest in peace, my little friend.