Last Wednesday, August 21, 2007 – we lost our beloved Monet (the Schnauzer in the picture above) to pancreatic cancer. She’s been fighting it for some time – but we didn’t notice anything wrong until our return from Brazil – mid May of this year. We lost our little Megan (Silky Terrier) on March 24th of this year also, so it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster the last few months. The picture is of the 3 of us (me, Monet and Megan) taken January of 2006, not long before we got a new Schnauzer puppy (named, Maddy) – not in the picture yet because we didn’t have her when the picture was taken – Megan was ill with severe arthritis at the time, and we didn’t want Monet to be alone if Megan decided to leave us sooner rather than later. When this picture was taken – we were still mourning the loss of Maguai (Shih-Tzu) to a brain tumor. She passed away exactly 2 years ago today (August 24, 2005).
It never ceases to amaze me how attached one becomes to a pet. I’ve lived and lost relatives and friends throughout my life, and I have to say that losing one of my pets is just as traumatic as losing a human loved-one. There are moments of memory that make me sad to know I won’t get to see them again in this life-time, and the tears flow just the same as they do when it was a person close to me who will never be there physically again.
But, I digress – This is a tribute to my kids!
At my age the possibility (and inclination) of having my own human children couldn’t me more remote. So, my children are my pets. That’s why I’ve named this post a “Tribute to my kids”. Those of you who have had a dear pet in your life will understand this tribute. Those who never have had a pet that gave to you unconditional love, won’t be able to relate as well, but I hope my tribute touches you as deeply as possible – and even leads you to the experience of a lifetime by adopting a pet of your own.
We had pets (dogs and cats) in and around our home when I was young, but for some reason I never became attached like I have with the last 7 who have come into my life the past 19 years – 5 of whom are now gone, and two more angels (well – the newest puppy, Misha, is a terror – as puppies can be – but still an angel just the same). At this point in my life I can’t imagine life without the unconditional love of a pet like these.
We started with a black and white Shih-Tzu puppy in the winter of 1988 – a gesture from me to Jim to replace his Shih-Tzu who had gotten out of the yard and no one ever returned her. We named the puppy Suling. She was a hand-full. In her short 10 years of life she gave us 4 liters of puppies. We sold all of them except a blue-eyed, white-coated purebred Shih-Tzu from her last litter we named Maguai (because she looked like a white version of the Maguai from the movie “Gremlins”).
Not long after we got Suling, we also got a tabby kitten and named her, Sydney. Between she and Suling I had my hands full a lot of the time. We all bonded early, but in May of 1989 we moved to San Diego, California – we couldn’t afford a home, so we rented a 600 sq. ft. apartment with no yard. The house we left in Salt Lake City, UT – was 2000+ sq. ft., and had a yard. I soon began to dread going home from work every day, because I would find potted plants dug up, poop on the floor and sundry other messes created by these two hooligans bored out of their heads being home alone all day! And when we took Suling out to “do her business” every morning and evening she would do everything in her power to put off “finishing” because she knew that as soon as she was done it was time to go back to the apartment.
Sydney was a character, who got so excited when I petted her that she drooled. She loved to sit and meow at me for hours every day when I came home from work, and of course I always answered back and told her I believed she was telling stories. She was a sensitive girl who always knew when one of us was sick, and would curl up so she was touching knowing it would comfort us. She loved to hide and jump out to get a start out of us and seemed to laugh herself silly, rolling on the floor after she had successfully made one of us jump. We lost Sydney to rat poison when she was only 3.5 years old – I was devastated. I didn’t know how deeply she had become a part of my life and psyche until she didn’t come home one night – then she came to me in a dream 2 days later and showed me where to find her body so we could give her a proper burrial.
We had 3 other dogs to keep Suling company but they just weren’t a match for us so after a year or two with each, we found them homes elsewhere. Their names were Mei-Ling (Shih-Tzu), Penny (Shih-Tzu) – both pet store puppies we would never do that again – and Mah-Tching (means monkey in some language, and was a brown Pug). Mah-Tching was an absolutely wonderful pet we all bonded to immediately, but her dander was a constant source of frustration for our allergies, so we found her a good home where we could keep tabs on her – the last we saw her, she had sunglasses and a scarf on and was headed to the beach with her new steward – as happy as can be!
I had said earlier we kept one of Suling’s puppies (Maguai), but it was an accident of fate that brought her to us. We had sold her to a woman who called back 24 hours later and had to bring her back because she was allergic to the puppy. In the mean time, Jim had gone out and bought a Silky Terrier, we quickly named Megan. After Maguai came back we just decided to keep her rather than sell her again. So now we had 3 dogs instead of the planned 2.
Suling was a bundle of joy from the day we got her. A little ball of fur that loved to sit on my lap all day as I worked from home. She was potty trained almost instantly because I was able to spend all day taking her out every time she stirred. Until the day she died her favorite place to sit was on my lap, legs stretched out to my belly and nose at the end of my knees so she could watch TV with us. She really did watch TV! When an dog or cat appeard on screen she darted from my lap and tried to jump into the TV or run behind it to find that animal – barking crazily as she tried to get to that cat or dog. Her first litter was a litter of ONE – The puppy got so fat with no competition that she dragged her hind legs behind her and didn’t start to walk until she was almost 3 weeks old! She was s good mother with all 4 litters, and she only lost one pup at birth. Suling left us one evening after a seizure that made her go blind. She was 10 years old. After she passed away we got Monet (who passed away two days ago).
Maguai was all white except for some black on her butt and tail, and her panda bear-like markings on her face. Before we sold her she was WILD. When the sprinklers came on in the early morning she would run out and dig holes around them until she was a mud ball. We seemed to have to bathe her every day. Oddly enough, after she left for 24 hours and returned – she was a different dog. She was so well-behaved after her return – and would look up with such adoration with those beautiful, haunting blue eyes, that we decided we couldn’t let her go again. Unlike the others, Maguai was very independent. She would crawl away so she wasn’t touching but still wanted to be nearby. But like the others when one of us was feeling down, or was ill she wanted to touch us – she would curl up on our feet to comfort us, but the only time she was in your face was to lick you awake to go outside or get up to feed her breakfast.
Megan was my little angel I more often called her “Meggy-Boose” than Megan. Like Suling, her favorite place to be was one of our laps. When she was a tiny puppy Jim carried her around in a back-pack strapped to his chest – her tiny face and head poking out of the flap while he worked around the house and gardens. We learned early never to put a glass of wine down within reach of her tongue or she would drink it. One night she came staggering into the living room, and I was so alarmed I wanted to take her to the vet. Jim calmed me down and we went exploring – we found she had found her way into mischief and was simply drunk! She slept it off and we were “on guard” from that time on. Up until the day she left us (just short of 14 years old), she would stand in the kitchen trying to talk to me with her little quips. She remined me so much of Sydney in that way.
Monet was without question the best behaved, and least work to train than any of the former pets we had. From day one, she bonded with Jim, and was happiest when she could cuddle up next to him all night. Until she got very ill at the end, she never once had an accident in the house. She was protective of us, but socialized well. She loved to meet other people and within days welcomed each new-comer to the family as if they had been with us forever. She worked harder than any pet to anticipate and do what she thought pleased us – and she was ALWAYS right on the mark, and the only thing she wanted in return was to be touched. She loved to sit close and would nuzzle your hand until you scratched her head and/or tummy – then she would sigh and snort with happiness like you have never seen.
I treasure every memory I have of all my kids. Through the entire trauma of fleas, tics, parasites, surgerys to remove fox-tails – and all the other diseases that have cost us a small fortune in medical bills – I wouldn’t trade one minute of the time I had with them. They have all helped me on my quest to learn what “unconditional love” is all about. We’re talking about love that has no bounds or conditions at all. Always giving, always doing everything they can to please us. As sick as each of the last 3 were before they passed away – they tried so hard to do everything they thought would make us happy.
As I held Monet’s head in my hands in the last seconds of her life, I promised her I would watch for her in the next life and that I would always remember how hard she fought this cancer, and never once complained about the pain she may have been suffering. She, Megan and Maguai all put on their happiest face every day, despite their pain and frustration until they just couldn’t give another drop. Always more concerned about how we were feeling than how sick they were.
I thank the heavens for the joy these creatures have brought into my life, and look forward to more wonderful memories with all of them in this life and the next.
May you be as blessed as I have been to know and understand the meaning of unconditional love – something a pet can teach you if you just spend time with them and love them back.