I didn’t deserve a dog as wonderful as Precious. I always felt she’d gotten cheated in the Mommy department. Some dogs spend their lives perfectly groomed, lolling around in a sea of toys, wearing the latest in doggie fashion. Precious didn’t seem to care about any of that. She hated grooming, was only interested in her stuffed tiger and barely tolerated it when I insisted she wear her sweater out in the cold. I refused to feed her tablescraps and her favorite treat was Beggin’ Strips, not some exotic, expensive treat from a specialty boutique.
A Series of Mishaps
When you screw up with people you can apologize. That doesn’t work with dogs. Bill and I nearly killed her with soap the first month we had her. Who knows how many times we stepped on her? When I would try to trim her up to avoid having to take her to the groomer, more than once I ended up cutting more than her hair. Talk about unconditional love! I nearly died every time she experienced one of these unintentional events, but she would immediately shrug it off and wag her tail as if to say, “It’s OK Mom.” I’ve never understood how anyone could abuse a dog on purpose.
Then there was the day I left her outside all by herself. My husband and I stepped out onto the driveway at the back of a rental house for a few moments. We didn’t realize she had followed us out into the garage and onto the driveway. Then as we discussed whatever had taken us out there in the first place she must have roamed around a corner. Bill and I returned into the house none the wiser that she was outside.
The driveway was at the back of the house and when we closed the garage behind us, there was no access to house or the backyard on one side. The fence on the other side of the house had fallen down before we even moved in and even though it angered me the landlord didn’t repair it during the entire twelve months we lived there, thank goodness the fence was down that day.
We had not lived there very long and as far as I know, Precious had never circumvented the entire house. Nonetheless, she trotted around the house, made her way to the front porch and scratched on the door. At first I thought it was just someone attaching a flyer to the front door and kept reading the textbook I was studying. When it continued, I sneaked over to the door to see if I could see the perpetrator. I couldn’t see anyone from the spyhole, so I sat back down, but the sound came again. I thought to myself, “That sounds like Precious when she wants to get on the other side of a door.”
I was off the sofa and ripping open the door before I had time to think about it. I grabbed her up in the biggest hug she’d ever gotten. I kept saying into her fur, “Oh you precious, sweet, wonderful thing. Thank you, thank you!” While I tried to thank her for her stubborn love, I also prayed a million prayers of thanksgiving.
At first I couldn’t even figure out how she got out. We made an inspection of the fence-line and even though there were a couple of spots where rabbits had chewed on the bottom of the fence, none of them was large enough for Precious to squeeze through. When Bill suggested she’d followed us out to the driveway I was incredulous. The sun had set in the interim. I knew I was very lucky she had found her way to the front door, rather than wandering off like so many dogs would have done.
Her Final Days
Precious had a bad spell a few years back. Bill was certain then her days were numbered, but she came back from it. Never quite as spunky and brave as she had once been, but still just as dear. When we moved away from our Squaw Valley house and into another rental she didn’t make the transition as smoothly as she had during our other moves. When when we moved to Heath, I don’t think she ever considered it home, but that’s where we were, so she made the best of it.
Then one day she didn’t want her food. I tried everything over the next few weeks trying to get her to eat something, anything. The vet didn’t have much to offer, but I called him from time to time, anyway. I wore out the folks at Petco trying to figure out something she would eat. For awhile she’d eat chicken, but she started having bad diarrhea, so I added rice. That worked a few times, but only for a day or so. Then she’d take a few nibbles of her old dry food mixed with a senior formula the guys at Petco told me to try.
The day came when she refused water. She was so weak she couldn’t stand on her own. She didn’t seem to be in any pain or acute discomfort, so I went about my business, but made it part of my business to never have her out of sight for more than a moment or two. For most of the day, I’d catch her big dark eyes following me. When I said a tearful goodnight to her, I thought she might not make it until morning.
But she did. She was waiting for me when I got up. She seemed to be in an uncomfortable position so I moved her around until she seemed more easy. Not knowing how the day would go, I went ahead and put in an hour on my stationary bike, while I did my daily Bible study. Then I decided to spend some time with her. Though I didn’t know whether the end was days or minutes away, I thought this quiet time, when Bill was still sleeping, was a special gift.
I wrapped her in a towel and grabbed up her beloved stuffed tiger. The three of us sat there on the sofa for an hour and a half. From time to time I would re-position her sweet body, trying to make her breathing as easy as I could. There didn’t seem to be any part of her that was painful, just a difficulty breathing. It was a familiar feeling, one I’d had before. I’d been with my favorite aunt, my dad and my mom as they struggled to breathe in their last days. The love I felt for that tiny furry body was no less than what I’d felt for the humans I lost.
Precious was waiting for one more thing. I might have been her favorite, but she also loved Bill. When he came out of the bedroom, I told him we were near the end and that he should probably call the vet. He thought he wanted to have a cup of coffee first, but then he came over and looked into those sweet eyes. He immediately got on the phone, but she was gone before he could explain why he had called.
All that was left was a few logistics. Now we were a one pet family. The cat was confused by the changes and still seems to wonder sometimes where Precious might be. The hole in my heart is mending, but this scar, like the others,will never go away. My love for Precious was all out of proportion, but only a fraction of what she had for me – and I will never understand why.