Dog Gone

I buried another dog yesterday. Wishbone. A little Jack Russell terrier that reminded us of the PBS story dog, Wishbone. Only thing she was missing was a tail. Even a part of a tail like they do to Jack Russells. My theory was that they screwed up the initial tail chop surgery and it got infected so they had to redo tail surgery resulting in a less than perfect Jack Russell as she was left with no tail at all…not even a nub. I always believed that must be frustrating to a dog not to have a tail to wag…

We found her in a shelter. I believe someone had tossed her aside because she wasn’t perfect…she had no tail. Anger. But…she found us. Or rather I should say she found my wife…who could not resist bringing home yet another dog. At times we have had 7 and 8 dogs at once. Sure, they got to be a handful, but she knew I’d never tell her no, so there was Wishbone. She fit in well. Don’t even remember how many we had at the time, but we had Beans, also a shelter dog that found my wife. Oh they played! We have a doggy door so they could go in and out on their own at anytime day or night. Wishy was a hyper type of dog. Bouncing for the first several years up and down and up and down, always trying to see over the gate we had installed to keep the dogs in their space. And she was in and out…ALL THE TIME! She couldn’t seem to sit still for long. Up and down, wander around, in and out…repeat. Over and over.

She was a bit of a barker at times. She’d get to barking at something, and Beans, who hardly ever barked seemed to look at her like she was crazy. Maybe she was just a little crazy, but like I say, she fit right in.

I get tired of burying dogs…pets in general. I’m sure we have had 75 plus dogs and over the years we have been married. Most were rescues. I get tired of burying pets, but I am even more tired of seeing them lost and alone and abused and mistreated. It has been hard not to have a full fledged pet ranch. If we had the space and the money, we probably would have. As it is, we have never been a single pet family. At present we still have three inside dogs…and three outside cats. Cats have never blended well with the pricey antique decor that the wife has placed throughout the house…esp given cat’s propensity to push things off shelves and counters. The cats were strays. We fed them and they became ours. Always there for breakfast, and in inclement weather, they are sheltered in the insulated three level shelter I built for them. The Cat House.

It was just yesterday that we had to put Wishbone down. I held on to her til she went relaxed in my arms…then totally limp. Hard to believe it was over, but her rapid panting had ceased, and her shaking had stopped as well. She was gone. Dog gone. But released. Conflicted emotions, but I knew it was for the best. I’m sure we will miss her presence for a long time to come. It’s obvious that her friend and companion dog Sid, misses her as well. She looks kind of lost. I’m sure she wonders where Wishbone went. And though dogs understand a lot, I’m not sure they fully understand that.

It was strange that night when Sid went into a flurry of barking at about 2 am that morning. She almost never barks, and never has barked in the night. I went to check it out, expecting to find some disturbance around the neighborhood. All was quiet on every side of the house. Couldn’t even blame it on the next door neighbors coming back from a late night as they often do. Once in a while, Wishbone would get outside and bark at them when they made too much noise…but everything was quiet everywhere…except that Sid had been barking wildly.

I checked a little more closely at both of the dogs. Sid of course was perked up and maybe looking a little sheepish for having been barking at this hour. What was a little odd was that Wishbone was also sitting up erect and at attention. Lately, it has been hard to stir her after she went to bed in the evening, and even when she got to stirring in the mornings, she had trouble getting herself moving. Kinda like I do when I get out of bed…stiff and slow until I get the kinks out.

It was fairly clear that this was the day. We had been watching her for sometime now, looking for those signs that said she couldn’t take it any longer. We had been spoiling her the past couple weeks…no…more like the past year or so…with her favorite foods and treats, but more so this past week. We could feel it coming too. It seemed like Wishy had been failing since we had to put down Beans at Thanksgiving two years ago. We noticed the signs and kept a close watch on her. Today was the day. Fortunately the vet was able to fit us in and Wishbone was released from her pain.

Most of the time, I don’t know when to stop writing…usually only when I am interrupted by more pressing matters. There is so much more I would like to write about Wishbone and her little doggy life with us. But many of you have been there as well. You have your own pet stories to tell of how your pet made your life better…and how you made his or her life better. Fill in the blank with a story. And maybe that is a good place to head to before I quit writing.

So many animals out there would love to have a forever home with a loving family. Sure, they will change your lifestyle. You actually have to care for them more than just making sure they get food and water. In return, they will care for you and make your life better than you can even imagine…unless you have had a pet before.

So that is what I am getting at. Take a look at those pets that need a forever home. So many stories at your local animal shelter. So many pets who need a chance to love and to be loved. Take a chance. Adopt a pet…and let it love you.

People handle loss and grief in every different way you can imagine. I write. I’m sure I’ll write more before the memories of Wishbone fade and are filled by the pets still here who need our attention. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law recently lost their dog of many years. They didn’t plan to get another one…but they did…and oh that dog looks like it has found a home!

As I was burying Wishbone, the phrase ‘forever home’ came into my head. Her piece of earth, buried near where her old friend Beans was buried, will now be her forever home, though that is not usually what we mean when we say forever home. At the vet’s office they asked if I wanted to take her home after the…procedure. Well yeah! I did. I’m tired of burying dogs, but I’m not tired of giving them a forever home…all the way to their burial.

I also thought of their little doggy souls…and it is obvious they do have them. Do all dogs go to heaven? Do they cross the Rainbow Bridge? Where do those little doggy souls go? To be honest, no one can really ever know. I think that all of us animal lovers like to believe they go somewhere that they can be happy…and make someone else happy. Because after all, isn’t that what pets are all about?

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I am sorry for your loss of Wishbone. Even when we know it is coming, it is a grief-filled road for a while. I agree with Virginia Woolf that her cat (and all animals) have souls and will meet us when die. I trust that joy is there when my days here are done.

Well said, my friend….,

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