Posted May 23, 2021
, “All he asks from me is the food to give him strengthAll he ever needs is love and that he knows he'll get . . .”
From I Love My Dog by Yusuf/Cat Stevens
I knew the time was coming. I watched the little one’s coat change from a gorgeous macaroon color to an ashen gray seemingly overnight. When I noticed it, it dawned on me that the playful mischievousness between her and her sister was also long gone. Little Penny spent her days eating, sleeping, and watching TV with her litter mate and my dad, and not much else.
She moved slowly, sometimes stopping and just staring.
Yeah, I knew the end was coming but I prayed for more days with her.
She died in her sleep very early yesterday (Saturday) morning right where she ultimately loved being: keeping my dad company while he slept. Don’t we all wish we could go that way?
There are so many thoughts that I’d love to share with you all about Penny and her litter mate/sister, Daisy, but there’s just not the room or time to share that here. Please indulge me as I share just a couple of random memories.
Penny and her sister were/are Pekingese and adorable. I bought them both because they seemed inseparable. The breeder was grateful that the two weren’t going to be separated. Until Penny’s passing, she and her sister were only apart twice (for about two hours each time). In watching Daisy, you can tell that she’s having a hard time processing the changes. Where did her sister go?
My dogs were protective of me. They sensed when I was troubled and would huddle near me as if to guard me. One time, after a horrible day, they insisted on sleeping in my bed with me. One slept at my feet and the other at my head and would rotate shifts and positions.
They were definitely protecting me.
Another time, I hung up from a very upsetting phone call. I laid on the couch to take a few deep breaths and process the situation in my mind. When I did, Penny raised up on her hind legs, put her front paws on the cushion beside me, and looked at me calmly as if to say, “Are you going to just lay there or are you going to pick me up?”
Of course, I picked her up and I laid her beside me. That wasn’t good enough. She placed herself on my torso as if she were an emotional sponge to absorb what was bothering me. Her sister, Daisy, joined her.
This and many other things happened that made my dogs appendages of my heart; true members of the family. All they've ever expected in return is food and love. Funny how they crave a pat on the head or a rub on the belly and their world is perfect.
How do dogs manage to wrap themselves around our hearts? WHY do they? The arts honor them. In the course of history, we’ve watched movies, hear songs, and read books about dogs and they break our hearts. “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, “Old Shep”, and “Where The Red Ferns Grow” come to mind.
There are lots of poems about losing pets and lots of advice about how and when to “let them go”. I get it. I really do. But it still hurts so bad. It really does.
So, as I grieve, and then heal, I reflect on the many amazing memories I have of Penny as I direct all my canine related love to her remaining sister. I laugh. I cry. I smile. I get lost in the thoughts. I know that, eventually, the tears will dry, and the pain will go away. I also know from experience that the memories will never go away. Gladly so.
I have no idea if animals go to heaven. I’d like to think they do because God is an amazing, loving Creator. But it doesn’t matter what I think. I’d like to think, though, that I’ll find out when I get there and that Penny and my dogs before her (Sassy, Pepper, and the horses and goldfish that preceded them) will greet me with their sloppy, wet kisses and cold noses (I haven’t figured out the goldfish part, yet). Whether that happens or not doesn’t matter. I have my treasure chest of memories to draw from, reflect on, and to use as a salve on my emotional wounds.
RIP, Penny. Daddy loves and misses you. Painfully so.