A million and a half years ago, when I was in 8th grade, my parents finally gave in on a request my sister had been making for as long as we could remember – getting a dog.
My sister was in 4th grade – that age where kids promise to do everything for their desired furry four-legged friends – walk them, feed them, clean up…the whole nine yards. I am not sure how she convinced them, but my parents went for it, and after a little while – we had the cutest, fluffiest little pup you had ever seen in our house.
I wanted nothing to do with this yappy little furball.
I was a ‘too cool for school’ middle schooler at the time, and thought that this little shih-tzu that joined our family was nothing but trouble – constantly barking, making accidents – all those little puppy idiosyncracies. Since I was old enough to go home after school on my own, I was the one that had to ‘deal’ with the constant barking and just did NOT see the attraction of having a dog.
Oh how things change.
Quickly, that little dog made her transition from baby to puppy. She learned lots – how to tell us she needed something, the joy of going for a little walk and how to really make our hearts melt. Her personality shined. She loved to smile, her own doggy way – and made friends and strangers alike laugh. Me, the self-proclaimed ‘so not a dog person’ changed.
I warmed up to her, and I knew she could tell.
As I got older, graduated High School and moved on to college, I realized that when I was away from home, I missed her. I couldn’t wait to come back for summer or winter break, because that would mean a chance to pet and play with her. My heart would skip a beat when I saw how happy she was when she realized it was me coming through the door, after not seeing her for several months.
Years would pass, again, as I transitioned from college to my first job out in Florida. I only made it home once – May 2007, for a week those whole four years and then last Christmas. It was wonderful to be back, seeing family, friends and the place I grew up.
Now, 14 years later – so much has changed. 14 years ago, I was but a naive teenager, thinking I knew it all – pretentious, annoying…now, hopefully smarter, wiser, married and living thousands of miles from home – and having to do something I could have never imagined would be so difficult….
I wish I could be home, but then again, maybe it would be too hard. I know she’s very old and it’s been a hard decision for my parents to make, but it doesn’t make things easier. I could see how hard it was for my mom, when she received a call on the phone last month when we were in Hawaii, from their friend that was acting as their emergency contact while they were away – when the boarding facility said that Mistee wasn’t eating, she had a hard time walking and she was sleeping all through the day.
Our little pup, who I always will remember her as – a pup – lived a good life. She lived very long, and as many older dogs do – developed cancer.
This is a double edged sword for dog owners everywhere, as dogs never used to live this long – but now that they do, they begin to develop very serious illnesses. Our little Mistee, well, she might be small, but at 14 – senior citizen status – is ready for doggy heaven.