I have had many pets in my life. But, probably because of an event of my youth with our family dog, Thumper, I had dedicated that I would never get attached to one. After all, sooner or later, they will no longer be there.
But all that changed eight years ago, when Judy brought home a little ball of fur named Emmy.
We already had a little mini Pomeranian named Mia. And this was one of her sisters from a different batch. Up until Emmy, Mia had always been such a happy little thing but she did not like sharing Judy's affection and her personality changed.
Judy saw this and asked me to take Emmy with me for a short time so that Mia could get used to having another pet around. That never really happened.
But something else did. When I would go to my room to read, scan the net, listen to music, or watch TV, this little ball of fur was right next to me on the couch. When she wasn't playing, she was cuddled into my leg, often with her little head on my leg.
And so slowly or not so slowly, the attachment began. She became my dog or should I say, I became her person.
I remember times when she would struggle so hard to get my attention. I knew or felt that her personality would probably be set from her puppy stage so I began talking with her as we played. "You are a beautiful girl.", I would say, "Always stay happy.". And she listened. In fact, she was quite probably the happiest dog that I have ever known.
She would be there at the door when I came home from work and then be by my side all the way to bed time. Then, she would crawl under our bed below me to sleep. And I became deeply attached to this little ball of fur.
In the summer, I would sit down on the grass in our back yard and she would run to me, jumping on my lap, and smothering me with kisses.
When I was not around, she would often sleep with one of my shoes. I assume it was because it had my smell.
In the winter, she loved the snow. She loved to jump in it and run around. You could see her joy as she did so.
In fact, Judy called her my rescue dog. For when that PTSD side of me came out, often those happy eyes and that bright smile would help to settle me. In fact, I remember the VA offering to get me a dog. I said, "No, I have one already.".
When I struggled, she would always be there. When I was sick, she would not leave my side. A few years back, I came down with the flu. I would lay on my couch out of it. I would open my eyes and there she was either sitting there looking at me or sleeping down at the foot of the couch.
And she loved to play. She especially loved chasing after a little ball. I would give it a little toss down the steps and she would fly after it. Soon she was at me feet again with the ball in her mouth pleading with those big eyes for me to throw it again. That game changed a few short years ago when another little young boy came into our life. Young Jasper loved those little balls also and we became concerned that he might put one of them in his mouth and choke so the balls went up only to come out on special occasions and soon they were forgotten.
Every evening she would be by my side no matter where I was. And she would always perk up when I would tell her that it was time for bed. She would run to our bed and slide under my side not to come back out until the morning. I would often hear her snoring down there in the middle of the night.
But, then, one morning she would not come out. We would call and she would not move. Eventually, I managed to slide her out but she just lay there, her breathing was shallow.
I picked her up and drove her to the animal hospital. She spent a few days in an oxygen tent before her oxygen level stabilized and she was able to come home. I noticed that there was quite a bit of dog hair under the bed so I figured that was probably what caused her discomfort. I had to block off that part to keep her from going to her comfort zone.
Bedtime soon became the foot of our bed where she found her comfort often sleeping on her back, with her legs up in the air. But, that did not stop her discomfort.
Our vet referred her to a specialist. After inspection and ex-rays, we found her problem was two fold and incurable. First off, she had a collapsed trachea. The collapse, however, was down close to her lungs where they could not put a stint in. To make matters worse, the lack of oxygen caused her heart to enlarge. The now bigger heart pressed down on the trachea issue making it even worse.
She soon began to struggle going up steps and I found myself carrying her up the stairs in the evening. It got so bad, that she even struggled getting up the three small steps to our deck from the yard.
From an early age, she also struggled with hard floors. I remember once when we took her to the coast with us. She would jump from one carpet to the next as she hated walking on the hard floor. I thought it was her nails as you could always hear them when she walked on it. Our kitchen floor was hardwood and she stayed off of it as much as she could. When she was on it, she would often remind me of Fred Flintstone as she would almost run in place, her legs racing to gain enough traction to get her back to her security of carpet.
Last year, we moved to a new home with a single level. We felt this would also be good for her as she no longer needed to be carried up the stairs. But, the house had a hard floor in most of the rooms other than the bedrooms. I would always know where she was when she moved around the house from the clicking of her nails on the floor. Judy bought her special little rugs to make her maneuvering easier. I always knew when she was coming to join me in my room as I could hear the clicking. She would come over to the couch and either spread out on the floor or wait to be lifted up to the couch. She just wanted to be with me.
And when she visited, our daughter, Trinity, had a special affection for her also. Trin often had to work on her computer and you would find Emmy down at the end of her bed. I would look in and there would be that happy smile on her as my daughter shared her affection.
Her coughing and struggles worsened however. We bought vaporizers to help moisten the dry air. We tried CBD oil and then even purchased a special product for her throat to help ease the barking cough. When she went outside to do her business, she would have to be carried back up the steps to the deck as she could just not get up them and when when she did try,she would go off in a coughing fit. In fact, we bought her a ramp online hoping to ease that issue for her. The ramp arrived too late.
No matter what we did, her breathing problems became worse. Over a couple of days, they became acute. Judy and I talked that night of her problems and I told Judy that we would soon have a decision to make.
Those last few nights, I would often find her panting down at the end of the bed. I would go get her water and she would drink, easing her problems. It was dark and I could not see her but I could feel her whiskers on the side of my thumb. That was how I knew that she had stopped drinking.
Our last night together, I brought her water three times. The feel of her whiskers became a special connection between us. I was giving my little companion some comfort in her struggles as she did so many times for me when I was struggling. In fact, the tears are flowing as I type these words as I realize the meaning of why that affects me so.
I went to my room and began searching the internet for when to put down a dog with those issues. I could hear her struggle and Judy soon came to me to let me know also.
Judy and I took her out into the living room. She sat at the foot part of my recliner and Judy sat behind her trying to comfort her. I sat in Judy's chair and we put on a youtube video of birds eating. Emmy struggled but calmed down. We all fell asleep there. I awoke in the early hours, Emmy panting at Judy's feet. I climbed back into bed and slept for a couple of hours.
We both awoke around the same time. I could see that Emmy wasn't sleeping but was struggling with her breath.
I looked online and found a veterinarian who specialized in coming out to homes for just this sort of thing. I called and talked with her on the phone exclaiming Emmy's demise. She could hear her coughing in the background as I spoke. I told her that both Judy and I agreed...it was time. Because she could hear Emmy and realized how acute the situation was, she told me that he had a 930 appointment that she would cancel and she would be right over.
Emmy was still in the chair when she arrived. Her labored breathing told us all that she was worsening.
The doctor explained what would happen and with me sitting on the floor in front of Emmy, she began her work. She gave Emmy her first shot to put her in a sleep mode. As she began to feel the drugs, she looked at both Judy and I. I believe that fact that we were right there assured her that it was ok. I talked with her softly, telling her the same things that I had when she was such a small puppy on my lap. "It is ok. You are a beautiful young lady. We love you. It is ok.".
She calmed and laid her head down. The doctor checked her out and said she was under.
We placed her on the floor and the doctor gave her her last shot. Her breathing was still labored but then she took one last deep breath. Our Emmy was gone. No more struggling...no more pain....no more fear.
But we both see her throughout the house. I hear her nails click on the floor. I feel her whiskers on my hand....I look down and no one is there. And the tears fall....as they are right now just thinking of it.
They say time heals.....this will take a while.
Judy took this last picture of her just weeks before we lost her. It is just as she was and just like she is here. Her bright eyes and happy smile.