Sixteen and a Half Years Later

I remember the Elsmere skating rink. Do you? When I was a kid, that place was hopin’! Every fundraiser in elementary school, every family fun night, every birthday party… it was there! My 6th birthday was there! The big fluffy dino/creature/thing pulls the birthday girl in the middle of the roller rink to have the birthday song play and to lead the hokie pokie dance.

The following weekend from my birthday party, at the skating rink, my dad drove me to Philly to my aunt and uncle’s house. It was there that I meet the most amazing being that had ever blessed my life. My uncle had rescued her from his place of business, where they, unfortunately tested on animals. I remember sitting on the living room floor and my uncle handing me the tiniest 6 week old Beagle. Her ears were too big for head and her body small enough to be cupped in my 6 year old hands.

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WP_001180My dad had this red station wagon and I remember sitting in the back seat, watching this little fur ball try to bite her way out of the dog carrier. I kept freaking out because I thought she was going to hurt herself. I couldn’t stop staring at her the entire 40 minute drive home. As soon as we walked onto the porch, it hit me… not the door, the name. “Beauty.” Beauty. Could it have been any more perfect?

One winter, while she was still teething she chewed the back of my boots that I had just gotten for Christmas. I was so disappointed! But how can you hold a grudge with a face like that? We would take Beauty for walks and people would stop us and tell us how beautiful she was! One halloween, as my mother took me door to door with the pup, a woman offered to buy her from us! Frank reminded me last night about when he had spent the afternoon at the grill, came in the house with what he called “the perfect WP_003995burger.” He placed it on the table, stepped away, and when he came back, the entire thing was gone. Just a paper plate and a full puppy. Haha! What a stinker!

Maybe its just Beauty, but at night, she would fall asleep with her head near mine and when I woke up in the morning, somehow, her back side was always in my face! Haha! Or my favorite, would be when I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and come back to the furriest pillow known to man. And by “fuzziest pillow known to man,” I mean Beauty asleep on my pillow. She really is the BEST cuddle buddy ever!

WP_004447Or how she thought my laundry pile was her new bed! She would pull my clothes, circle and circle on top of them, rake them with her paws and finally settle in. Does your dog snore? The older Beauty gets, the more and louder she snores! But its funny, because, now, I can’t sleep without it. Its like, white noise, but the good kind. Like if I hear it, I know shes okay.

The last few weeks, things have been a little rough around here. The sleepy headed pup has been sleepier, and has not been able to hold anything down. “Beauty with the Booty” has lost a lot of wait, has not barked, and it has not been looking good. Last night, after running an errand with mom, we arrived home to a tired Beauty with some piles of things scattered on the floor. This was it.

?????????Just like the rest of the family, she is a stubborn one. We knew she was trying to hold out, and leave on her own terms. We prayed that she would just fall asleep. It sounds like the most morbid thing to pray for, but I would have rather her just fallen asleep, and go out peacefully. Dad came over to  moms house. For about 2 hours, we laid with Beauty, kissed her, hugged her, cried, and repeatedly told her how much she was loved and how much she meant to us. The last hour was spent with Beauty sleeping on my chest. After I had finally decided on what had to be done, I felt somewhat content.

Why? Why would feel okay about this? About Beauty… not being there… at all.. anymore… Last night, I saw my dad cry for the first time. Even when his mom died, he only teared up in front of me. Have you ever seen your dad cry? Its like watching an earthquake… One of those epic ones from the movies… When the ground splits in two and everything crumbles into the magma abyss.

As we walked into the Veterinary Hospital, I held her in my arms, wrapped in a blanket so she wouldn’t be cold in the 20 degree temperature. The tech greeted me at the door and as I followed, I stopped dead in my tracks and spun 180. “I can’t do it, daddy! I’m not ready!”

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I knew what had to be done. I knew once I saw the reaction of the tech, that this was te right thing to do. “We need to get her back there.” I explained to Beauty that the tech, Dani, was going to take her for a few minutes and that Dani would bring her back to mommy. She came back out with an IV in her paw. The vet explained how everything worked, and I gave her the cue when I was ready. Mom, Dad, and Barry said their goodbyes, gave her hugs and kisses, and then it was up to me.

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My nose was touching hers. I reminded her how she is my best friend, the love of my life, more than I could ever ask for, and how much I love her! I gave her a kiss, as her head laid on my arm. I nodded to the vet and locked eyes with Beauty. I was the last thing she saw. The last thing she heard was, “I love you, baby girl. Always and forever.”

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Her head got heavy. She looked so peaceful. I stayed with her until my parents were able to coax me out of the room.

I’m feeling… I’m not sure…bent over with my head between my knees… angry… devastated… lost… I’m becoming  numb… Mom says I’m like a zombie. I walked in the house, and glanced at Beauty’s corner, like I normally do, only to see she was not there. I took a bite of the pizza crust and then threw it in her bowl, only to remember she would not be there to eat it. This is going to take a lot of getting used to.

Some of my favorite memories of her, like most good memories are with food. I remembered when I was about 10, my mom spilled a box of redhots on the floor, and Beauty vacuumed them up. She then got the nickname “Hoover.” She devoured those Salmon Cakes! Oh and she adored when I would make homemade dog treats! Maybe its because I always used peanut butter in them. Beauty has the same theory of peanut butter as her mommy: anytime, anywhere, on anything! I think its only right that on today, March 1st, National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, that we raise a spoonful of peanut butter to the peanut butter loving pup!

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