We saw an ad for the puppy in the Toronto Star Saturday edition. This will be our third try. The first two pups didn’t work out, one was sick and the other had a mental disorder, the vet suspected inbreeding as the cause.
I had just lost my sweet Missy, my baby of 13 years and it was time to put some life back into our home, but the first two experiences left me in a worse emotional place.
We pulled up to the address, a small feed store in Minden Ontario.My husband Marshall, and sister Sarah, got out of the car first and I followed. We walked in to find a tiny, almost black, wiry pup passed out on the floor. She was the spitting image of Missy. My first thought was, do I really want a carbon copy of the dog I just lost?
We walked over to her and I tried to get her to wake up. Nothing doing. I patted her, no reaction. I lifted one of her paws and it was as droopy as a wet noodle. This 12 week old pup was so limp it was as if she’d downed a bottle of vodka. We went over to talk to the owner, who was also the reeve of the town.
“Really, she’s very spunky,” he insisted. “She just finished playing with her grandfather and she’s wacked out,” he said pointing to the older dog resting on the floor on the other side of the counter.
I looked at the other dog and then turned to look at this tiny schnoodle sprawled on the floor. She had an unfortunate haircut that had a part down the middle of her head, like Shemp from the Three Stooges. I can’t say it was love at first site.
“Are you sure she’s okay? I’ve never seen a puppy so pooped.”
He assured me that the pup was fine, and went on to explain that she had been sold, but was returned to him because the woman who had purchased her took ill and couldn’t care for her. Hmmmm…likely story, I thought.
“Why don’t you go over to the Timmy’s and have a coffee. When you come back she’ll be awake and full of life,” he promised.
So off we went to the coffee shop to talk this through. We had already made this long drive, it was at least worth a discussion.
Marshall said, “She seems healthy,” which was one of our big concerns after getting emotionally involved with the prior two sick pups, but I still didn’t know if I wanted a dog the looked exactly same as my Missy that I loved so much. I had my heart set on a white dog, or blonde, or red, even purple, something completely different.” Marshall suggested flipping a coin to make the decision.
“Heads we take her, tails we leave her.”
Seemed like a reasonable way to decide on a dog who’s going to be a member of our family for many years – NOT!
Marshall pulled a penny out of his pocket, tossed it in the air, caught it and slapped it onto the back of his hand. “Ready” he said about to reveal the outcome? Heads it was and it was decided right there in that Tim Horton’s coffee shop. We would be taking this little one home.
We walked back to the feed store to find the puppy jumping and totally annoying the other dog who was now growling and extremely agitated. “That grandpa of hers will be happy to see her go, she drives him crazy all day long,” the reeve said.
Marshall counted out $400 into the man’s palm, as I went over and picked up my new pup. With her tiny paws on my chest, she squirmed and licked every inch of my face. What a little ball of energy, I thought. She was very sweet, except for that unfortunate haircut. “Look past it,” my sister said.
On the drive home we talked about what to name her. “Since we flipped a penny to make the decision, how about we call her Penny?”
Today, just shy of 17 years of our wonderful life with Penny, it’s that heartbreaking time to love her enough to let her go.
She gave us so much joy and happiness, so much love and warmth. She slept in our bed, ate off our plates and followed us everywhere we went. She won “most improved” at obedience school and put a smile on everyone’s face. She touched hearts wherever she went. Like the first day in that feed store, she played hard and slept deep.
In 17 years I’ve never heard her growl, or seen her bare her teeth. She was the sweetest, even-tempered dog, always ready to please. It was a heart-wrenching decision to let her go.
Penny had full-blown dementia but seemed to be quite happy in la la land. Her arthritic joints were managed with painkillers, but after a bout with Vestibular disease (vertigo) she was diagnosed with a bladder tumor and it was obvious she was starting to be too uncomfortable for a reasonable quality of life. I couldn’t take the chance that she was in pain. I love her too much. The vet said it’s better to let her go one week early, than one minute late. That statement played over and over in my head.
Rest in peace my little one, go find your grandpa over the rainbow and drive him crazy once again. Thank you for the years of greeting me every day at the door like you haven’t seen me in years, for the soft licks, for the pawing at my hand when I wasn’t paying attention to you, for laying next to me every morning while I wrote my book, for dropping your ball on my head when I was asleep, for nudging me with your ice cold nose under my warm covers, for making me get up and walk at 6 a.m. regardless of weather, for putting a smile on my face when no one else could and for letting me use your soft velvet ears to dry my tears on really bad days. What will I use to dry my tears today?
Good bye my sweet, you will live on in our hearts for eternity.