In Memoriam

     It was October of 2017. We had just lost our Newfoundland Rufus to B-cell lymphoma the day before. I felt the best way to commemorate Rufus and assuage the grief was to love someone new. So somewhat against Beth’s wishes, I dragged us to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter to adopt a dog in need.

     We “interviewed” several dogs, but the only one who responded to us was a female pit bull terrier mix named Precious. She was seven years old, and had been left at the shelter by her previous family. We never learned why. Anyway, she’d been at the animal shelter for nine days when we came by. She joined our family that day.

     We knew her life was half over when we adopted her, but why deny a sweet dog a “forever home” for that reason? And she was sweet, from the very first.

     Precious was a cuddlebug. Her idea of a high old time was to sit with her head in my lap. She did so often. She also loved food – any kind, in any amount, at any time – and a wide variety of treats.

     Precious was also an escape artist. She managed to worm her way through or under our fence a dozen times. Neighbors would call, thank God, and hold her until I could get there from wherever I was to pick her up. For a while it was almost a ritual.

     She did cost us some trouble. She was bossy toward Sophie, our German Shepherd mix. And she never really got along with Joy, the Newfoundland puppy we acquired in 2020. They got into one fight – over food, of course – that cost Precious three teeth and me a paralyzed finger. We learned how to prevent future scraps between them. We had to; I couldn’t afford to lose the use of another finger.

     We didn’t know until quite recently that Precious had a heart defect. It first manifested as a very faint murmur. Our veterinarian thought it should be watched, but no more than that. Unfortunately, watching it wasn’t enough to prevent catastrophic congestive heart failure, which struck Precious sometime Tuesday. She lost the use of her back legs, her breathing became labored, and at the last could hardly move under her own power.

     We took Precious on her last ride this morning. At about eleven AM, she “crossed the Rainbow Bridge.”

     Precious isn’t the first pet I’ve had to bid farewell. I’ve owned dogs, cats, hamsters, a white rat, even, quite briefly, an opossum. But experience doesn’t make it any easier. Then again, what I really dread is the day my animals, of whatever kind and number they may be, have to bid farewell to me.

     Rest in peace, beloved friend. May God gather you to His bosom.


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  1. Aww, so sorry to hear about this, Francis. I’ve had Pitties my whole life, they really are the sweetest dogs if you just give them a little love and attention. Nothing hurts quite like losing a beloved pet.

    • jwm on September 15, 2023 at 4:49 PM

    When we lose a loved one there is a numbness that settles in over us, and sometimes a very strange sense of giddiness accompanies the immediate loss, and propels us through the awful business of settling the affairs. This is a psychic defense mechanism, a buffer to the shock, and grief that would otherwise destroy us.
    There is no such shield when we lose a pet. The pain, and grief are immediate and overwhelming.
     Be good to yourself tonight. Maybe an extra ration of scotch. Read Kipling’s, “The Power of the Dog.” I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
    Take care, and God Bless.

    • doubletrouble on September 15, 2023 at 6:22 PM

    Our condolences Francis. 

    • Rod on September 15, 2023 at 6:57 PM

    The loss of a true friend. When I looked at his photo I could just feel what it must have been like rubbing his head on your lap. Peace my friend.

    • T on September 16, 2023 at 5:18 AM

    Precious was lucky to have you. And you her. 
    Our heeler is 15 (rescue, side of the road) with final stage congestive heart failure (and is knuckling with her back legs) so we will be going through this sometime before the end of the year. 
    You are a good man for rescuing, caring, loving, and being willing to go through the pain of loss. I hope you are willing to rescue again. Like Precious, you’re one of the good ones. You gave her a life she likely never would have had. 
    Thank you for sharing your memoriam.

  2. My dog was adopted last year in March. He wasn’t a young dog, maybe 12-13 years old. Recently he was losing weight and not his usual perky self.
    We took him to the vet. He had bad gum disease, and needed so teeth to come out. They quoted a price, and it wasn’t cheap.
    We didn’t hesitate. When we were asked if we wanted to resuscitate if he developed problems, we said yes. I asked how much it might be to do so. About $70. Not a bad price for our faithful friend.
    He came through with flying colors. He gained at least 3 pounds over the next week. He had weighed in at 15 the day of the operation. We had to cut his rations, lest he put on too much weight.
    He is unbelievably frisky now, 2 weeks later. Acts like a dog much younger. It was worth every penny.

    • Dystopic on September 18, 2023 at 7:16 AM

    Sorry to hear, Francis. It’s never easy letting go of a pup. They are with us too short a time. In some ways, dogs are better than people. Always loyal, always attentive – there are times I wonder if we humans deserve such esteemed company.

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