People often refer to dogs as a man’s best friend and it is not until you have a dog, you can truly understand what this means. Sunday, I had to make a choice to euthanize my dog, Lady and it was a difficult decision. Lady has been with me almost 15 years and when I woke up Sunday morning, I did not realize it would be the last day we would have together. In the past few weeks, she had begun to deteriorate pretty quickly but I was not thinking the deterioration was the precursor to death. I did expect that I would lose Lady within a year though just do to her age. I felt like she was already at life expectancy and that each day was borrowed and possibly a gift. With all that being said, I was still not prepared for the choice I had to make.
I have not always been a dog lover at all. In fact, I was terrified of dogs up until the point I got Lady. Yes-terrified. Not scared or fearful, but literally terrified of anything furry with four legs and the potential of a bark. Yes, even 5 lb dogs! This strong fear came as a result of being chased by a mean Doberman Pinchon when I was about 8 years old and it literally made me afraid of all dogs after that. I was at a friend’s house outside playing and the neighbor’s dog got loose and started running over to play with us. I had never been around dogs…not sure they even allowed dogs in the projects for real. So since I had never been around my dogs, my natural instinct was to run away-WRONG CHOICE. Why? Because if you run, the dog will run after you. And he did. He wanted to play, but I thought I was being chased by the Loch Ness Monster. In my head, that dog was larger than life. Anyways, I ran so hard and stumbled and fell and the dog was all on top of me growling and barking, probably because I was screaming and snotting a gallon of tears every second. So sad it was that he was playing and I was having an anxiety attack. And so sad the next 15 years as I would jump on couches to avoid 5 lb poodles and skip doors that had a “beware of dog” sign when I sold donuts for church fundraisers. If it meant I came back with every box of Krispy Kreme I left the starting point with, I was serious about not having anymore dog encounters. So..you may ask how did I go from fear to love?
It started on a trip to New Zealand April 1999. Marcus and I were there for a month and stayed with a couple that had a German Shepard that lived with them. Obviosuly, I was not aware I had signed up to live with a dog for a month. I tried not to stand on their coffee table, but stayed crouched in a corner and scaling up the walls when we first arrived. Slowly, but surely though my fear eased up as he never barked at me, never bit me and never acted mean towards me. In fact, he seemed like a protector to all of us that stayed there. By the end of the trip, I was no longer afraid of the dog at all. But, just THAT dog. So, on the trip back Marcus mentioned to me I should get a dog when we get back to the States so I would not revert back to my fear of dogs. I fought it a little, but trusted him and decided to give it a try.`
My journey with Lady started 14 years ago in April 1999 when we picked her out and brought her home at six weeks of age. Even after my time spent with the dog in New Zealand, I was scared of my new little puppy at 6 weeks of age. I remember holding her in the car on the ride home and feeling so tense as she moved around and would not be still. Even with me getting her and picking her out, I did not think I was signing up to love her but just to simply get over my fear and check that box off my life record. We brought her home and of course, I am clueless because this is my first and only pet. Clueless that she was going to cry at night like a baby and boy was I frustrated the next morning. I remember telling Marcus I wanted to take her back and did not want her because at that point-I had no allegiance and could not come up with a good reason why I was going to allow this furry animal that was a box-checker to keep me from sleep. Just did not seem like it made sense to me. Marcus convinced me to keep her and said the night crying would stop in a couple of days and it did. So, I made it through that and I was officially a pet owner I guess. I would feed her and play with her every day, but I did not feel an attachment to her. That all changed very quickly when after a couple of weeks having Lady, we had to take her to the vet because she was sick. There had been a problem with her litter and she needed additional shots for whatever she had and she had to spend the night at the vet. I cried and was emotionally shaken that she may not be ok and was unsure what to expect. But, I remember being completely and totally caught off guard at my emotional reaction over this. That is when I knew that somehow unbeknown to me- I had in a very short time become attached to Lady. The fear had moved out and love had moved in. That was the first and only time Lady was ever sick until Sunday.
So basically, in two weeks after having her, I realized I was really liking my dog and did not know how much until she went to vet. So, now after almost 15 years…I definitely have been attached to Lady and love her dearly. I have so many fond memories of Lady and will always remember her as my first dog and all that she represents to me and all that she was to me. She was indeed loyal, protective and dependable. Sounds like qualities of a best friend doesn’t it?
I remember sitting and playing with her, remember our many walks together, remember her chewing phase where she chewed everything she came in contact with, and remember when we went to obedience training classes. At one point, we even took Lady and had professional dog portraits done…yes, we treated her like she was our baby. I remember the times I was pregnant and she was extra close to me and seemed to have a sense I needed extra protection and care. I remember all the times she would wag her tail, perk her head up and run to me as soon as I walked outside. I also remember her mischievous times where she would dig holes in my backyard and the times she would get off her leash and run away skipping through the neighborhood like a free bird. So many memories and I am thankful for the 14 years I had with her.
I miss her tremendously and will have to restart and get used to her being gone. My fear of dogs is gone. What remains now is love for my dog, Lady.