Dogs I Have Known and Loved
Sarah – February 18, 1999 – March 29, 2014
NOTE: This story was originally written in 2012. Since that time I lost my dear little pug, Sarah, which is the first story you will read. She was 15 when she died, blind, diabetic, and barely able to get around due to aches and pains. I guided her to bed at night, and I stayed close to her during the day, so she would not panic. I was her “seeing eye person.” The time came, however, when the veterinarian said she was suffering. Diabetes had not only taken her eyesight, but was also causing her neuropathy and pain in her paws. She also had diabetes and a bad thyroid and had become incontinent and ashamed. Her quality of life was gone and she was depressed and sad. I loved her so much I could no longer allow any of that to continue. She crossed over the rainbow bridge on March 29, 2014, with my arms around her and my tears falling on her fur. Her dear little self is truly missed every day. Here are some memories of my sweet Sarah and stories of Peggy, Hobo, Cricket and Samantha, a few of the dogs I have known and loved.
Queen Sarah Rala
We just called her Sarah, but we knew all along she would be the Queen of the house. She found her “perch” or “throne” immediately, when she sat on the arm of my recliner. That became her place ever after. She also found her bed immediately the first night, on my bed with me! Nobody had to show her, she just KNEW! Sarah came into my life when she was just 11 months old. She was feisty, playful and always looking for fun and love. As the years went by, I watched her go from puppy to an old lady with ailments. She was a good girl, but her health declined and caused problems.
When Sarah was 13 years old she began developing medical problems. She had to take a daily thyroid medication which helped her to be more active. She also became diabetic. Twice a day she gets insulin shots for the Diabetes and Thyroxin for her thyroid. She is also going deaf and going blind from cataracts. The cataracts could be removed, but it would mean putting her under anesthesia, and the Vet agrees with me not to risk that.
Where Sarah’s fur was formerly black, it’s now showing grey on her ears and muzzle. Now that she’s blind, if she doesn’t see me leave the room, she panics trying to find me. Other times, she is so sound asleep, she doesn’t know I’ve left. She used to jump up on the bed to sleep at my feet, then we went through a time when I had to pick her up and put her there. Now she sleeps in her own bed on the floor beside mine.
Her blindness affects her in strange and sad ways. Sometimes if she has gone outside during the day, she can’t see anything when she comes in from the light and walks behind the open door instead of through the doorway. I watch her carefully and guide her when she needs it. When she gets lost in the backyard and can’t find her way back to the door, I must remove my oxygen line which won’t reach that far and go search for her. So far it has worked out okay. In my heart I know her last days are fast approaching and I dread the time it comes.
When Sarah walks around now, she doesn’t walk like a typical pug, with her head up and her tail curled up on her back. Now, her head hangs down and so does her tail and she walks timidly because she knows she’s going to bump into something any moment. Her spirit is gone and she’s sad and depressed.
So it’s quite obvious that Sarah’s life, as with all living things, is now on its way to the end. If she leaves this world before I do, it will break my heart and I will miss her terribly. At the same time, I don’t want to leave before she does, because although there are others who love her, nobody would be as patient with her or take care of her the way I do. It has become my goal to outlive her, because I want to be there for her until the end.
The Toys She Loved
When Sarah was young she loved to play with her toys. When we vacuumed the carpet, we would pick them up and put them in her toy basket. She never liked the vacuum, and stayed out of the way, but as soon as the “monster’s” noise stopped, she would run to her basket, put a paw on the edge of it, tip it over and drag all her toys out again. Her favorite toy was one we got a few Halloweens ago, an orange plush jack-o-lantern with a squeaker inside (squeaker disabled by Sarah’s sharp little teeth immediately.) But she loved them all and I still keep them. Why? For the same reason we keep family treasures after our family is gone. I only recently managed to donate her porcelain food and water dish to charity.
In the basket of toys, there’s also a cow, (squeaker disabled by Sarah, of course) a stuffed birthday cake with candles that plays Happy Birthday (she hadn’t managed to disable that one, the music maker was buried too deep in the toy.) There’s also a turtle (squeaker disabled), 3 different bears (one of which was crocheted by me) and a giraffe in a strange color, among a few others. She no longer played with them once she couldn’t see them. Even when I put them with her, even nudged her with them, she’d smell them and just let them lay there. I noticed a change in her attitude; she seems sad and depressed.
When I wrote this original story, Sarah slept on the floor beside me. Each day I see her physical health diminish, but as long as she is not in pain, I will see her through to the end. She has been with me through a lot of heartbreak and illness. The least I can do is be with her through her hard times. I know these are her final days and I hurt to see it, but my hurt is selfish because it’s for myself, knowing how much I will miss her. She will be my last dog, because I can no longer do the things she needs done.
Peggy was the first dog I owned…. or did she own me?
I was living in Kentucky with my sister and her family around 1949-1950, and Momma came to visit over a weekend. She brought this little black and white puppy with her, said her name was Peggy. I fell in love with her, and figured she was brought to me. I asked Mom who she belonged to and she said, “Oh she’s mine.” I was crushed, swallowed real hard and blinked back tears of disappointment. When she saw my reaction, Momma said, “Honey, this little dog is for you. I want you to concentrate on the next few weeks of this school year, and when you come home at the end of it she’ll be waiting for you.” I was so happy, and I kept her with me as much as possible during the time they were there. When I got home that spring, there she was, housebroken, clean, cuddly and sweet. Mom said Peggy was a fox terrier. She had pointy ears and nose, cute as she could be and I loved her dearly. I called her “My Shadow,” because she always wanted to be where I was. It was like she always knew she belonged to me.
Peggy was a funny little dog in many ways. She didn’t like to be bathed…she fought and struggled to get out of the tub, and sometimes Mom had to help me hold her. But once she was out and we dried her with about 6 fluffy bath towels, and covered her up on her bed, she was fine. She’d take an “after bath” snooze, and wake up feisty and ready for play. She never played with toys, but always wanted to be with me. I’d stroke her fur and talk to her, sometimes I’d even sing to her. She looked at me like she knew what I was saying.
I had Peggy until I was 19 years old and expecting my first child. That winter while she was outside doing her business, we found her dead. She was overweight by this time due to lack of exercise and we believe she had a heart attack. My Mom worried that I would lose my baby, because I grieved so much. I felt guilty, that it was somehow my fault because I had not shown her as much attention in those months I was concentrating on the coming baby. It took an awful long time to get over her death…she was my baby too. I realize now that she lived a long, happy life with me which helps me over the grief, but I will never forget her. “My Shadow.”
Pepper – 1969
A skinny little black Chihuahua we called Pepper was with me and my family for a number of years, traveling across country with us by air and by car.
I can’t tell you exactly where she came from, but someone gave her to my Mother.
I lived across town from Mom then, and each time I visited I fell more in love with the tiny little thing, and she with me. Whenever I visited Mom, Pepper stayed in my lap almost the whole time I was there. When Mom and Dad both were working, Mom told me to take her home with me, so that she’d not be lonely. Months later, she officially became mine, because Mom said she couldn’t bear to part us.
One of the stories about Pepper, often repeated in the family, is that during the winter when there was snow on the ground, she would go out to do her business and the minute she saw snow, she’d begin lifting her feet like a pony! We had to shovel or sweep a spot for her to go “potty.” It was necessary because the snow was deeper than she was tall and she would get lost! But we never minded doing it, because we loved her so.
Pepper lived to be very old. However, when I moved back to Las Vegas, she was physically unable to make the trip. Mom said she would now take her back, as she was not working now. So Pepper went back to live with Mom, where she began and lived out her days with her. I received a phone call from Mom one day that she was gone; she passed away peacefully from old age.
Hobo – 1980s
Hobo was a dog with no pedigree of any kind, but was probably the best dog we ever had. He was a mutt dog, maybe Corgi or Dachshund mix. He was short legged with floppy ears and beautiful fur. We called him Hobo because he wandered the neighborhood every day, since his owners left the gate open when they left in the morning. Several times as I was leaving to take my son to school and then go to work, he would appear and jump into my car like a flash. I would take him out of the car and back to his yard and close the gate. This happened more and more frequently. I was afraid he would get run over by a car. I also worried if he had food and water during the day, as I saw no indication of either.
He was so cute…his eyes were lined like Cleopatra, and he was beautiful. The family that owned him were really not “dog people.” and mostly ignored him. They got him for their children, who really didn’t give him much attention. He didn’t even have a name until we gave him one, they just called him “the dog.”
When the neighbors bought a new home in the suburbs, we told them if they ever wanted to give him away, we wanted him. I gave them our phone number, and about a month later we received a call that he had dug up some of their new landscaping, and did we still want him? You BET we did and we drove up that day to get him. We named him Hobo, but wound up calling him Beau for short. He never dug up our landscaping, and he never got out to run the neighborhood. He lived in an airconditioned house in the lap of luxury, with food and water whenever he wanted it. He became a happy dog, welcoming me each day when I came home from work. He also had a sister, a tiny, long-haired Chihuahua named Cricket, which you will hear about next.
Beau would lay by my feet in the evening as I sat in my recliner,and occasionally bump my leg with his nose as if to let me know he was there. Years later he became very ill and could not be saved, and my vet had to put him down. It broke my heart and I missed him so much. About a week after he passed, I was sitting in my chair watching television, when all of a sudden I felt him bump my leg, just as he used to do. I know it sounds looney, but I think he was letting me know he was okay, that he was waiting for me across The Rainbow Bridge.
Cricket – 1980s
Cricket was a tiny long-haired Chihuahua, apricot in color. She was given to me by my babysitter at the time. We named her Cricket because my Aunt in Kentucky had a little one named that, and I always thought it was such a cute name. Cricket was with me for a number of years, even after Beau came into our lives. She just adored him, and wanted to be wherever he was. She always went out to do her business at the same time he did, she ate at the same time he did, and made sure she slept close to where he was sleeping. It was so funny to see hero worship in the dog kingdom.
One time when my little son’s teddy bear had been thrown out of his crib, she grabbed it by the ear and came running with it to the living room. The bear was as big as she was, and she looked so funny trying to run with something that large. She was a loving little girl, enjoyed being petted and brushed, but hated being bathed. Once the bath was over however, she would preen and prance like she knew she was a beautiful little thing.
After Beau was gone, Cricket was never the same. She would go to the gate which was the last place she saw Beau the final day we took him to the vet. She would stand and look up and down the street. She would go to his favorite spots in the yard as though she was looking for him. She seemed as sad as I was about losing him. One day when I let her out, she fell down our short flight of steps, and after that her cataracts got so bad she could no longer see. The vet said she went down hill so fast because she missed her friend Beau, and that possibly long before we knew it, she was going blind and Beau essentially became her seeing-eye dog. Without him, she deteriorated rapidly. She began staying in her bed longer and longer, and I began occasionally finding feces in her bed when I cleaned it. One day she got up and started through the house, and her legs gave out on her and she could no longer get up. With tears streaming down my face, I picked her up and barely managed to get to my car, my own legs did not want to carry me. She rode in my lap all the way, not even moving. The vet examined her, and said it was time, as she was suffering. I held her and stroked her head and sang to her until it was over. My little Cricket was gone.
Samantha – 1990s
This sweet-natured Cocker Spaniel, totally black with only a small patch of white on her neck under her bottom jaw, was found by some friends on a Las Vegas freeway. How she managed to live through the whizzing traffic, I’ll never know. She was wearing a collar and tags, with a phone number of a California veterinarian on the tag. My friends called the number, the vet said he knew who the dog belonged to and would call the owners and give them my friend’s phone number. A week went by with no call. The vet was called again and was surprised that they had not called. He said he didn’t talk directly to them, but had left a voice mail message, so he would try again. Another week went by with no word, and the vet was called once more. He said, “I don’t understand, but I think you have yourself a dog.”
They named her Samantha and kept her for over a year, but finally had to move into an apartment where they couldn’t have pets. Of course, when they told me the story, my heart just melted, so Sam came to live with us. Sam had ear infections frequently. She was sweet, but not playful. She was very quiet, almost like she wasn’t there. But sometimes she seemed sad. There were times she whined almost like a human would while grieving. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the timing or place when she would do this. As to her age, we had no idea, but the vet said she was at least 2 years or better. We kept her for several years until she got sick with so many ear infections and finally had kidney and liver problems she had to be put down. I just hope the time she spent with us was at least restful, peaceful and gave her a little happiness. She was a dear little soul.
The Rainbow Bridge is a poem by an unknown author who comforts us with the thought that our furry companions are waiting across the Rainbow Bridge for us to join them. All I know is, if dogs don’t go to heaven I don’t want to go there either. Without dogs, it wouldn’t and couldn’t be heaven.