Monday, February 21, 2011

Are Your Pets Your People?

Yesterday, I saw a friend out walking her dog.  This wasn't her dog, Magic, that I am used to seeing her with.  She was being pulled along by a "puppy" yellow lab.  I pulled my car over and asked her where Magic was.  Sadly, Magic passed away recently and she got right back on the horse (dog) by getting a new puppy.

It got me thinking, as all topics do. In this case about my Tootsie....

Tootsalania, the Shih Tzu, made her debut into our lives in 1984.  As she was to be called Tootsie by our (then) 4th grader (kiddo #1) and our 2nd grader (kiddo #2), she came to us in the form of 14 oz. of pure sweetness.  Tootsie was to be our children's pet.  Doesn't every parent go through the "it would be a good thing for our children" to have a pet to be responsible for? 

Up to that point, I had never really had a pet in my life.  I had "nearly pets" from time to time.  Hubby bought me two "love" birds right before we got married but by the time we married and they took residence in our LITTLE Chicago apartment, they weren't  exactly endearing themselves to me.  The made horrible screechy noises, and scattered feathers and seed all over the 200 sq. ft. or so that was our home.  They went to live with a friend.  (I am not sure, if that person remained on  speaking terms with us.  Forty years is a long time ago to remember screechy birds.)  The other closest thing we had to a pet was Punky, the miniature Yorkshire Terrier that loved biting people and things.  He only lived at our house a few weeks, as the breeder was able to find someone with more stamina and thicker skin than our household.  (He led a good life with his new owner who told us that he never really got past the whole chewing, biting problem but they could deal with it).

Tootsie quickly took a hold of our household and our hearts.  She chose to sleep next to me at night with the occasionally wandering in to snuggle with one of the kids from time to time.  Ultimately, she always came to retrieve me though as she needed to go outside around 2 AM.  This was to be the way it was for the next 16.5 years.

Over the years the kids grew as kids do. They were busy with sports, friends, first loves, first heartbreaks, first cars, high school  graduations, college and college graduations .  They had moved out and began their lives independent of  mom and dad. 

Toostie on the other hand, stayed through all those  monumental moments in our life and continued  to keep hubby and me company.  She moved to Grand Island, NE with us in 1993 and again she went to Texas with us in 1998.  By the time we made the move to Texas, Toostie was showing her age.  At first in subtle ways. She slept more, jumped less.  Her eyes weren't as bright as they once were but she seemed happy. 

One of the many blessings of Texas was we met some really great people which included our vet, Randy Wuenches.  Randy was keeping close tabs on our precious girl as she started to fail.  Over the next couple of years Tootsie couldn't  make her nightly jump onto the bed.  Never mind though because I could just tuck her in as needed.  Friends started mentioning that, if it were them they would  "put her down".  Are you NUTS!!! This is my kiddo #3. 

Here is the tricky part of being a person like me.  I totally understand there are people out there that can separate animals from humans.  I am not that person though.  Randy the vet asked me early on.  Do you think of Toostie as your pet or is she your family?  Very much family!! No grey area here.  I LOVE this dog.
We need to make her final days, good days. 

For the last 2 years of Tootsie  life she went every Tuesday to a doggy day spa and where she could sit in a little whirlpool to relieve the stiffness in her older joints, get brushed and fluffed and get her little pink ribbon in her little top-of-the-head pony tail. ADORABLE.   She came home from those visits rejuvenated.  She would jump up onto the lap of whoever was accommodating.  Unfortunately, by the following Tues. she was showing her age.

 In 2000, as luck (bad luck) would have it, hubby had been working in Mobile, AL  for about 8 weeks on a consulting gig and the job was ending. Instead of him catching a flight into Dallas, we decided that I would come and retrieve him so we could incorporate a mini-vacation at Beau Rivage Casino and Spa in Biloxi, MS on the way home.  So, I lined up one of the vet techs from Randy's office to come by a couple times a day to check on our girl and give her medications, and of course adore her as I assume everyone thought she was precious. (well, she was!)

While in Biloxi, we received a call from the vet tech saying she was a bit concerned that Tootsie hadn't eaten her supper and she was going to take her back to the office so they could keep and eye on her. Hubby and I started back to Dallas.

As we got back to Texas via Interstate 10 we hit an ice storm. Ice storms aren't necessarily unusual there but one this severe was freaky rare. The first of our many problems was my 4 wheel drive Ford Explorer shredded a tire running over the ice on the interstate late into the night. AAA and an angel of a tow truck driver towed us into some historic looking garage into a tiny little TX town, had the owner come in and open the place for us.  With renewed determination and a new tire, we thought we could make it into Dallas by morning.  Not to be as the next big twist in this debacle of a night was that Texas  authorities closed Interstate 10.  We got a room in Longview, TX for the night.   During the night Randy called to say Tootsie was sleeping peacefully but her liver had shut down and she would not make it through the night.

My sweet girl was gone and by the time the roads were open well into the next day, I didn't get a chance to say my goodbyes.  I have speculated over the years if this was the way it needed to happen.  I was so sad and truly grieving, I don't know how I would have been able to handle myself had I seen any of her final moments. 

This is what I know.  There are people that say "It's a dog, a pet, not a person".  For me the loss was real.  She was one of my people.

 Hey Bloggees, There is a part 2 to this story....tune into tomorrow for the conclusion.

The good for the day....the animal people that embrace our hearts and enrich our lives.

The bad.....The people that mistreat or abuse sweet creatures in our world

The Weird....There were a couple of weird things as far as Tootsie was concerned.

1.  She never ever barked.  Never.  She made a howling sound to "sing along with" Christmas carols from time to time but never a real bark. Licks and wags were her communication skills.

2.  When she was little, our house backed to a farm.Tootsie started scooting under the fence that separated our back yard from a small herd of cattle.   She made a BFF in the form of a bull named Pete.  Pete would lick her little 8 lbs. of fluff like she was a salt block and she seemed to love it.  It was hysterical to watch this massive cow lick our little Tootsie and how happy she was bouncing along next to a huge bull.  Who would of thought of such an odd pair were to be friends? Friends can come in all sizes.

1 comment:

Chris Marose said...

So I am reading this entry from my hotel in Wichita, KS remembering my first pet.....our precious Tootsie. With tears in my eyes, I recall many happy times. I have not thought of Pete the Bull and Tootsie's friendship for a very long time. Thank you for reminding me of such special memories with our pets.......Wonder if my boys are ready for their first doggie....Hhmmmmmmm