A very close friend just had a close "friend" pass recently, and had written me about it.  I responded with one of the few times that I remember where I thought or wrote fluidly (at least I think so).  Below is some of it.  It was therapeutic for me.  Perhaps some of you can identify.
 
Having a rough time is understandable.  Dogs, cats, pets… humans… Don’t know what it is, they become part of the family… they become part of your home.  You see them, you think of them, and it is part of that fabric that gives you that sense, that idea, that thought and concept of home…  your home.
 
Earlier in my 20’s I guess, when my parents had stake in about two, three, four houses (depending on how you look at it), it was around Christmas (or Thanksgiving, or some holiday, but I am pretty sure it was Christmas) and I went to one of them for a visit.  It was an a-frame house on a lake in Alabama. 
 
I arrived late (if I am recalling this correctly), because I had gone to Midnight Mass with a friend’s family (I did this for a few years).  Well, I was sleeping late the next morning, and my step-mom came into the room, and put this puppy next to me on the bed.
 
The puppy was a red Chow Chow (or Chow).  She was red all over (didn’t have a black face/muzzle).  We named her Charlie.  Don’t ask me where we got that name (though my step-mom’s dad was named Charlie, but I don’t think that was it).  That name popped up, and it stuck. It really seemed to fit her.
 
Interesting side-note here:  My parent’s got another Chow later, and his name was Chan (Charlie and Chan?)  Again, we didn’t really think on his name.  It popped up and stuck.  We had to come up with a full name for Chan’s papers, so we looked-up Chinese names in the phone book.  Somewhere in the Atlanta area, someone of Chinese descent has a cream-colored Chow named after him.
 
Anyway, Charlie was the last of her litter chosen.  She was about ten-plus weeks old… a little older than the usual age of a pup when they are adopted.  She was this cuddly, fluffy, docile, little baby.  She may have been chosen last, but I find it hard to believe any of the others would have been any better.
 
Now Charlie was, and was not, your usual Chow.  She had this sweet, playful, gentle disposition.  On the other hand, she was impersonal (to strangers), protective of her family, persistent hunter (she caught scent of a rat under the house, and nearly dug to the bottom of the foundation to get to it).  She was patient too.  If the family was around, and a guest wanted to pet her, she would be patient with them.
 
On the other hand, she was pretty smart, as far as Chows go.  They aren’t known for being geniuses, but they aren’t exactly dumb either.  Chows are discerning, and have their own agenda.  A lot of that agenda is what makes them a good guard dog, and protective of their masters.
 
My dad commented one time about how cars can be coming down the road, and if it was going to pass by my parent’s house, they would ignore it.  However, even if the car was far off, if the car was coming to their house, they would start barking.  I know it sounds crazy, but I saw it happen more times than not.
 
Other times when I would  visit the folks, and it was dark when I got there, they would be barking.  As soon as I started speaking, they would get quiet.  They remembered me. 
 
Another funny story was one of the ONLY times I ever brought a girl home to meet the parents.  They were barking and all, and I got them quiet.  They were heeled, but knew someone else was with me.  As long as she was quiet, they were okay… Then she asked, "Where are they?"  As soon as she said something, they started barking like crazy.
 
One other time, Chan was barking at me and all from inside the fence (being like a usual Chow), but Charlie was all laid back.  In a thinking out loud kind of way, I said, "Charlie, shut him up."  I never thought anything of it, until Charlie started barking and snapping at Chan, chasing him away.
 
Charlie never had a litter of her own (she was fixed).  Charlie was about a year or more old when we got Chan.  From the start, she babied him.  It was pretty amazing how she looked over him.  I remember putting some kind of rag over him, and she would come and pull it off of him.  Looking back, it was pretty cool watching them grow and get to know each other.
 
Charlie and Chan got along well.  Don’t be mistaken, however.  Charlie WAS in charge, and Chan toed the line!  She wanted to be outside more often than not, and wouldn’t stay inside very long. Chan, on the other hand, was well at home inside (unless Charlie was outside, and Chan would follow right behind her). 
 
Once when we had one of the rare but significant snows in Atlanta, my dad looked out the window laughing.  Charlie was out there laying flat on her belly across the snow as if it were any other day.  Looking back, it was kind of funny.
 
The long and short of it, Charlie began to decline in health… and began to decline further.  It came time, and they made that tough decision to put her down. 
 
My dad buried her near and under some trees.  I have been told that he said that in that spot, she got sunshine in the morning, and shade in the afternoon and early evening.  I have also been told that he said that when he buried her, he leaned up against a tree and cried like a baby.
 
It was understandably tough for them, and they communicated it to the vet.  Country vets… He told my parents that they shouldn’t worry, that if and or when it might come that time to make that decision with Chan, just let him know, and he will take care of him.  They need not worry.
 
Just thinking.  At that point, the vet was being as much a doctor to my parents as to their dogs. 
 
Yeah, pets can be a big part of the family.  Remember, recall, and celebrate their life and time they had with you.  Hopefully, that will help and bring some comfort.
 

As for harping, you aren’t.  Lean whenever you need to.  Friends can be a big part of the family too.

1 Comment
  1. ancientgeekcrone 13 years ago

    That was very touching.

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