I know people talk about having a pet as becoming part of the family, or as Oprah Winfrey would call her pet dogs, “people with fur”. I haven’t experienced that until recently, when my sister got a pet puppy (a shih-tzu / pomeranian hybrid). In the 16 days he was with us I finally learned the unconditional love one feels when having a pet and why people would consider pet animals as important as family members. It was such a devastating loss to everyone of us when his life was cut short. We are still reeling with grief over this event.
My mom poured her heart out and journaled her thoughts that I think it’s important I share the essay she wrote to express what we all felt:
“Why am I so out of sorts today? Why are tears welling in my eyes? I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t snap out of it. How can the deat of a less-than-a-kilo puppy called Happy affect me this way? We have grown fond of him. This is true but it seems so unreasonable to feel like the gloominess all around me will just go on and on. Yet, I can’t snap out of it.
Maybe, it [sic] not just because Happy is gone. I will never hear his excited barking again. I will never again see his excited twirling around or jumping up and down to reach my hand. He was such a tiny creature when he was given to my daughter and he smelled, so she decided to have him groomed at an impressive-looking pet grooming shop wherein he was bathed and where the groomer decided to cut off his long and matted hair explaining it was best because he had a hot spot. Since my daughter, Jacklyn, didn’t really know anything about dogs, she relied on the groomer’s advice thinking what he suggested was best for Happy. After the entire process, Happy came home to us. He was frisky and so delightful, we all fell in love with him. I joked that he looked more like a white mouse than a puppy but despite his appearance, we were all enamored with him.
The next days were busy ones for us. I had deliveries and purchases to make but there was the welcoming presence of Happy to look forward to. The weekend came and we brought him to a vet for his vitamins and other needs. Happy was funny as he gave us signs when he wanted to pee and he barked excitedly when he had to poo. It was easy to care for him and he signalled us when he wanted to rest. Jacklyn had bought him a very beautiful, comfortable bed and I knew he loved it as he never even once soiled it. When he awoke, he would get down from his bed, bark or twirl around sniffing his tail to signal to us that he had to pee and poo. Everything seemed alright and even as I wrestled with my own problems, they quickly disappeared because I could go down to see Happy.
The following Saturday, Jacklyn brought Happy to the vet for deworming. We watched and saw how sweet he was until he felt in delayed reaction, the first shot his tiny body ever received. He was barking and twisting in agony as I held him to calm him down. It was the first time I held him in my arms and the connection between us jolted my heart. Here was a helpless, hurt creature who needed tenderness and I hope I gave it to him.
At home, he was still frisky and living up to his name. He was Happy. Three days later, he peed in the tiny home within the cage he stayed in. We brought him to the old newspapers where we usually brought him whenever he signalled his desire to relieve himself. He continuously clawed at them, trying to remove them, and tired of rearranging them as we waited for him to do his thing. Then, he seemed to have just grown tired as he ate so little and slept almost the whole day. We were worried because he was quieter and barely barked.
Thursday morning came and there was no barking at 5 a.m. to wake us up. Happy did not eat his breakfast. Jacklyn called the vet to ask him to came and see Happy but he didn’t arrive. We were in Cabanatuan until 4 in the afternoon while Jacklyn went to work. Josie and Joseph decided to bring Happy to the vet who took blood samples for examination to see what was wrong. On the way home from Jacklyn’s office, she called the doctor for the results of his blood chemistry and we were all shocked at the findings. Happy’s kidneys are weak, he had anemia and he still had no appetite. He was given an intravenous line where some of his medicines were injected and where he was given what his body needed. Jim and I visited him and he immediately stood up to show us how he missed us. He still had not eaten but he seemed so frisky though sad as he licked my hand when I brought it near him. The doctor said we should be able to take him home when he is already feeding again. I felt assured that he was going to come home, grow old and be a companion to our family and even when Jim and I are gone, to our daughter who genuinely cared for him. That visit comforted me though I was apprehensive because he still refused to eat.
The next day, Jacklyn, Jim and I visited him and he looked so thin. He was making small noises but he looked so sad. It felt to me as if he was telling us something about how he was feeling. I imagined he was asking me to take him home with us. The long-haired veterinarian told us if Happy would eat, he would be stronger and he suggested that Jacklyn bring food Happy was accustomed to. Jacklyn immediately brought his food and even took him out of his cage to hold him. He still did not touch his food but we thought he would start eating later. He also only likced the doggie biscuit shaped like a bone that he loved when first Jacklyn brought him home.
That Saturday night, when I asked the veterinarian about Happy, Dr. Ong said he ate his supper. How happy we were! Finally, he was eating. Maybe tomorrow or on Monday, we will be able to bring him home. Then the doctor called about 30 minutes later to inform Jacklyn that Happy expelled a worm and he became weak. He told us to visit on the next day to see him.
Sunday came and we prayed a decade of the rosary for Happy’s recovery. During Mass, before consecration, somebody texted Jacklyn. Happy died at 3 in the morning. His tiny body could not take anymore. He was gone. We all wept bitterly and felt drained. After Mass, we continued our rosary, praying that if Happy had a soul, that he would be in doggie heaven where there is no more sickness and pain. I didn’t want to look at his remains but I felt that I must see him for the last time. Jacklyn and I were shocked to see him lying there with eyes wide open sadly staring at us.
I’m sorry, Happy. We did our best for you. Jacklyn especially spent so much for you, because she only wanted the best for you. In the short time you were with us, you really lived up to your name. You made everyone of us truly happy. Dear Happy, rest now. Jim, Joseph, Jacklyn, Josie, PJ, and I bid you goodbye. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for giving us so much joy and giving us your unconditional love. Will we ever be able to find another puppy like you?”
FOOTNOTE: To explain the people my mom mentioned in her essay: Joseph – this blogger; Jacklyn – my sister; Jim – my dad; Josie – our helper; PJ – our helper at my mom’s store, who stays in with us. Dr. Ong – one of the veterinarians, not the long-haired veterinarian also mentioned in this essay.