Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I didn't like this dog.

It pains me to admit it, and in retrospect it even seems a bit mean. But I'm just being honest. We had Freckles for nine years, and she was the most annoying pet I've ever owned. It wasn't her fault, really. We assumed she had some sort of doggy ADHD, because she couldn't remember anything. If we had to discipline her for something, she could forget within 30 seconds what she was told. I know that dogs are incredibly forgiving, but come on! This dog just didn't get it. She never learned to stay out of the garbage, or out of our food on the table or cupboard. She didn't learn right from wrong... just how to get away with it.

Yet in spite of her annoying habits, I never wanted to see her suffer. She had her little moments. She would sleep next to me on the bed and didn't steal the covers. She would run circles around the dining room table at lightning speed when she was excited, providing a fair amount of laughs for visitors. And I've never before had a dog ask to go outside by sneezing at me.

Friday morning, she wouldn't eat her breakfast. She didn't eat all day. She wouldn't eat at all on Saturday, either. By Sunday, I got her to munch a little bit of lunchmeat, but she had the dry heaves. By the time I took her in to the vet Monday morning, she wouldn't even open her mouth. The vet gave us some pills to try, along with some soft dog food for when she got feeling better. I went to work around 11:30 a.m. I returned home at 4:30 to find her lying by the back door in pain. She couldn't keep her balance. I called the vet, drove Freckles to the office while reaching behind to comfort her in the back seat, and then carried her inside. She took two painful gasps, making sounds I've never heard from her before as I rushed her in to the building. I laid her on the table, and I knew we had lost her. I laid my head on her chest, but it wasn't moving. The vet came in quickly and confirmed what I thought. No heartbeat. Freckles was gone.

Dang it. I didn't want to go through this a second time in a year. I had my favorite pet, my rabbit Mordecai put to sleep this summer. I hate it. Absolutely hate it. As I drove "Frecks" to the vet, I was sure she wasn't coming home. But I never expected her to die in my arms.

Maybe it's payback.

And so, as I promised when Mordecai died, I'm through with pets. I find myself painfully aware of how short my time with them might be. Instead of enjoying the days I have with my dogs, rabbits, or birds, I find myself doing the math. How many years can I expect to have with this pet? How old will I be when I have to drive this one to the vet and say good-bye? I'm an optimistic person. I live in the present. I live for today and all the good pleasures God gives me. But no matter how much we try to deny it, our circumstances and experiences do shape and mold us. I'm not bitter. I'm not angry.

I just don't want to hurt anymore.