Archive for April 18, 2014


DSCN0758My sweet mini-poodle died peacefully the early morning of April 8th, 2014, cuddled up next to me in bed. She usually slept at the foot. I’m so grateful she wasn’t alone in her last moments. Honey was my beloved companion for 12 years, but her diabetes, diagnosed a year ago, had been worsening.  She was truly part of my family, and I would miss her dearly.

Last time I’d looked at the clock it was 3 AM. She’d been making little mewling sounds off and on, but I petted, soothed and sang lullabies till she finally fell asleep.   When I’d called Greenbrier Vet in the afternoon, they told me to bring her in early the next day.  Morning seemed so far off. But when I woke at 7 AM she didn’t move. Most days she was awake and alert, watching me patiently, waiting for me  to open my eyes and take her outside. Her loving heart had stopped beating.

I called Greenbrier, told them that Honey had died, that I was bringing her in to be cremated, as we had planned. They kindly offered to send someone to get her, but I  gently covered her with her plaid blanket, drove to the vet, and wept as Dr. Boles hugged me.  It was hard to leave her, and I didn’t want to go home alone yet, so drove to Dunkin’ Donuts, even had a jelly donut with my coffee, relieved to be so calm and collected.

But opening the April 8th New York Times I cried again reading David Brooks’s  column: “What Suffering Does” — ordeals reveal our true selves and deepen our  capacity for empathy  —  and Jane Brody’s “Well” essay: “My Life as a Dog Owner” — her  Havanese puppy Max has brightened her life after some lonely years as a widow.  Both seemed meant for me that day.

Honey wouldn’t eat anything the day before.  I couldn’t tempt her with favorite foods,  even turkey bacon, a former treat — so couldn’t give her insulin. That evening she let me hold her close like a baby for over and hour, resting her head on my shoulder. She usually squirmed out of my arms in a few minutes, preferring to sit on my lap or next to me on the sofa, nuzzling me, often licking my hand.

I knew it wasn’t fair to let her go on this way.  In fact, I’d made an appointment to have her euthanized in January, but she seemed to improve again so cancelled it. Honey had been wearing doggie diapers for some time — pink ones for my ladylike pet — she’d been upset after peeing accidents. And she had increasing trouble walking. When I took her out in the mornings, she’d wobble on her back legs, often sitting down. But she still took her time, sniffing and exploring till she found a suitable spot, even in snow. “Poor little chicken,” I’d say as I carried her inside.

Sometimes she’d be more agile for a time.  Sunday, two days before, was a warm spring day, and we took a long drive in the beginning to green countryside, ending up at our favorite Bynum Run Park where we walked a while, then sat together on a bench watching geese and ducks paddling on the pond, kids fishing, people and dogs enjoying the sunshine.

I’ve been feeling less sad than I thought I’d be these past ten days — seeing her so sick, I was getting ready to let her go, mourning in advance. I was afraid I’d become depressed again without her —  hadn’t had a serious episode in all the time she we were together, only a few brief down times.  And, somehow, her spirit still seems close.

After my husband died twenty years ago I felt his presence for a while, too.  He’d been enduring cancer treatments for over a year and was gaunt and emaciated at the end. This strong, loving man never complained, never gave up hope.  My son and I hurt seeing him suffer — and during his long illness finally became resigned to  his leaving us.

The day after Honey died, I went to the Harford County Humane Society and filled out an application for a small dog — one that will fit in Honey’s airplane carrier bag and sit cozily in her car seat. She was a compatible travel companion when we flew to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and, most memorably,  Ireland — and on many car trips to pet-friendly Bed and Breakfasts where we both made friends.

I’ve also searched the Internet and found some appealing mini-poodle rescues — one named Scruffy, a two-year-old black and white male who’s in a foster home till ready for adoption. Another, Flower, a one-year-old white female with pelvic injuries that need to heal. No hurry, though. There was only one Honey. I need more time.

I’m so glad I live near  my wonderful son, daughter-in-law and grandson — with another baby coming in July. My grandson didn’t notice Honey wasn’t with me when I came to mind him yesterday. He was always excited to see her, delighted as he touched her soft hair. Later, I asked him: “Where’s Gramma’s doggie?” He looked up surprised, then began to look all around the room, so I quickly said: “Doggie went bye-bye.” Looking thoughtful, he repeated “Doggie byebye,” and went back to playing with his toy cars.

Dr. Boles, always kind and caring,  and Bethany who made her even prettier at Bon Bon Groomer, wrote comforting notes, and friends and neighbors sent sympathy cards I’ve arranged around the little box holding Honey’s ashes, her name on a bronze plaque. My neighbor Monty — always cheerfully patient with her multiple maladies — brought me a peace lily “to be named Honey,” she said.  It’s thriving on the spot  where Honey sat when I worked at the computer. Monty cherishes her spunky little dog Sparky.

I usually wear a silver Celtic cross, but for now am wearing a gold heart locket that had belonged to my mother. It’s long held a wisp of my son’s baby hair, and after Honey’s last animal hospital stay, I added one of her apricot colored curls, asking my son if he’d mind his DNA being mixed with hers. “Of course not,” he said, laughing. After all, she was his foster sister.

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the Cross. Easter Sunday is only two days away, a joyful Feast with a tinge of sorrow for me. My husband died on a Holy Saturday evening. We hope to be reunited with those who’ve gone before us. My Honey was surely an angel in a dog’s body, so I like to think she’s back with God, and we’ll be together again when I come home.

But until then, I’ll miss her dear face, her joyfully wagging tail, her loving heart in her warm little body.

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