(Twinkle Opening her Christmas present 2009)
Our dog family has taken quite a hit in just the past 6 months. We've gone from a 4 dog family to 1. This year my dad's hunting dog and Twinkle's friend Chyna died of old age on Memorial day. My brother's dog (my Miss Marie's brother) died on the same day Marie did October 15th only 2 years later. He was 19. Though the 3 dog deaths were sad... in a way they were expected. That is the cycle of life when owning a pet. We took great care of them nursing them till the end. When cancer and getting hit by a car are the leading ways dogs die we were lucky and vigilant.
This past week we got news that my parent's poodle Twinkle had liver cancer. She was expected to live about 2 more weeks. She made it 5 days. She was 7 years old. She is the sister to my poodle Little Star. Together they were "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." A death that none of us were ready for least of all my parents. It has hit them pretty hard. They were right there with her till the end. She is buried next to Chyna in the garden they both loved so much.
It has hit my parents hard not just because they loved Twinkle so much, but also because they are entering the twilight of their life. Dog ownership is a big question when you start to wonder how long will you live. They expected Twinkle to live another 10 years and probably be the last dog they'd ever own. My parents are at a time in life when taking care of themselves and each other from day to day is their job. Having a pet to love and take their mind of their own selves was a blessing. Having a dog to make one get out of bed when arthritis makes you want to stay in bed is a pleasurable reason to get your body moving. Having a dog to baby when your children aren't babies is a joy. My parents don't just see this as a death of a dog, but a death of dog ownership maybe even the beginnings of their own death.
My dad gave me the run down of Twinkle's last day. I knew he needed to talk. He talked through his tears to give me the story of how brave Twinkle was. What I heard was how brave the three of them were. After my dad was done telling Twinkle's story he said emphatically, "NO more dogs for us. We couldn't take that again."
I thought how sad that the death of a beloved dog would stop one from ever having another. I get it. They are feeling old. Well, they are old. But they'll get older and they should have the joy of a dog until the end. I talked to my brother last night about their situation. My parents have had a dog in their house usually 2 for the last 40 years. I discussed with him that in a few months we'll talk to them about getting another dog and assure them that we will help them with their pet ownership.
My husband and I know full well what it is like to inherit a dog. My husband's parents were 15 years older than my parents and died fairly quickly after we were married. We inherited a 98 pound guard dog named Nixon. He always seemed pretty scary. Nixie as we affectionately called him, became a beloved member of our family. We didn't have any pets at the time and I was pregnant with my first child. There was very little questioning when we took him in and made a house dog of him. Yes, he altered our lives in big ways. Allowances needed to be made, but we made them. Nixie lived until he was 13 1/2 and my children remember what a great dog he was even though they were pretty little when he passed on. We live on 1/2 an acre much bigger than we probably would have gotten, but big dogs need big yards. Our beautiful big backyard is because of him.
(Sister-in-law, Niece, Nephew and Twinkle excited about her Christmas present)
It's been a few months and my brother and his wife are ready for another dog. My hope is in a few months my parents will be able to open their hearts to another dog. The benefits of owning a dog far out way the heart break at the end.