Saturday, August 23, 2014

Perfect Pets for Each One of Us

Scott D. Parker

I had a post already planned about increasing writing efficiency--you’ll get it next week--but our family had a loss yesterday. Our wonderful, beautiful dog, Azula, eighteen years old in July, passed away. What made the death especially wrenching was that we had to decide to do it. We had been managing her pain all summer with medicine, but this past week, she went downhill fast. It was the right thing to do, but it sure as hell hurts a whole lot.

When my wife and I met, I had two cats, she had two dogs, and “this bunch must somehow form a family.” We did, and added a human to the mix as well. The other three animals all passed away naturally here at the house. Basically, they took the decision of when or if to put them down out of our hands. You don’t realize how much of a blessing that is until you are faced with a situation when you have to schedule an appointment, make arrangements, carry the animal to the car, drive to the vet, and go into their offices with everyone knowing why you are there. And if they didn’t, the tears on our faces would have told the story.

The good folks at West Houston Veterinary Medical Associates were so gracious to us. When the time came, our beautiful girl didn’t even need the drug that stopped her heart. She was so tired that the anesthesia was all she needed. One last sigh and she no longer hurt.

We still do, of course, and will for awhile. Everyone thinks that their pet is the best pet in the world. The best thing about a pet is that the animal is the perfect pet for your family. ZuZu was my wife’s second dog and she had her two years before she and I even met. Eighteen years is a good, long life for a dog and, even though this last week has been rough, I wouldn’t trade any of the awesome times I had with her. She was my first frisbee dog and dang if she didn’t *always* beat the frisbee and catch it in midair. She ran so fluidly and gracefully.

For all you pet lovers and animal lovers out there, hug your babies today just a little tighter. They bring so much joy to our lives that they open a special place in our hearts set aside just for pets.

The writing life is a part of our lives and our lives will, on occasion, experience pain. I worked all morning yesterday until noon when I took the rest of the day off to help my wife--man, she was so strong, God bless her--do what we had to do. I had already done most of my fiction writing for the day before noon, but I’ll tell you a little secret we writers know: the act of writing can help you get through pain. Me writing this piece helped me praise our beloved puppy but also reach a nice calmness. Oh, I know I’ll weep in the days to come, but I’ll be smiling much more than crying. In fact, I think I’ll write more about my memories of our dog, Azula. She was such a blessing.


Steve Weddle said...

Sorry you guys have to go thru that, but sounds like18 years of a great life.

Sue Coletta said...

I can relate. I've lost six dogs in as many years (maybe a touch longer), mainly because they were all puppies at the same time. Azula looks like she was a sweet girl. I am so sorry for your loss. I pray the pain gets easier for you. And you're right, writing is the best way to heal.

Holly West said...

Oh, Scott, I'm so sorry for your loss. I've had to make this decision for two of my dogs and it's just heart-wrenching. You know intellectually that you're doing the right thing, but there's this extreme cognitive dissonance--how can you willingly kill something you love so dearly? Thanks for sharing Azula with us today.

Rick Ollerman said...

Hey, Scott,

I've had two dogs (sometimes three) at a time continuously for the past three decades. It always sucks and it always hurts. I still can't look at pictures of some of my past friends.

We lost our Dalmatian in January but we already had two younger Golden Retrievers to help with the coping. I always think getting another dog as soon as possible gives you someone new to love, which helps ameliorate some grief, but our mailman lost her dog last year and won't get another because she doesn't want to face that inevitable pain again.

But what about all the intervening joy? I can't imagine living without my two boys. And I want to replace my Dalmatian. Every dog I've ever had are among the best friends I've ever had.

Gook luck,

Rick Ollerman