"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace."
- Milan Kundera
Back in 1999, my younger sister and I schemed on how to convince our mom to let us get a dog. We had conned her into going to the animal shelter a few times 'just to look' at the dogs. At that time, dog adoption fees were only $45. I saved my birthday money and waited, plotting out the best time to follow through with our plan.
Knowing that I wanted a dog, my mom told me I wasn't allowed to bring my money to the shelter. So, being the crafty child I was, I gave my money to my sister. With our master plan in the works, we went to the shelter after a half day of school. We walked through the rows of dogs. Something about Chrissy caught my eye. She was a year old and had thick, long, glossy black fur. (We decided her birthday would be a year before the day we got her) In my mind, she was sitting patiently in her kennel just waiting for the perfect family, though realistically, she was jumping and barking like the other dogs.
The only information written on Chrissy's ID card was 'Housebroken. Loves to play ball.' We had shelter volunteers take her into a run, and we got to throw a tennis ball for her. It didn't take long for my sister and I to fall in love. At that point, I had made up my mind. I turned to my mom with a huge guilty grin.
"Mom," I started. "I know you said that I couldn't bring any money..."
"So I did!" my sister blurted and pulled the money from her pocket. My mom didn't quiet know what to say. Luckily for her, we had to go and pick up our older sister from school. On the way, I called my grandma to get her help in convincing my mom to let us get a dog.
"All kids should have a dog," my grandma told me. Of course, I had her repeat that to my mother. After more convincing, another phone call to our dad, and some begging and promising that I'd take care of the dog, we went back to the shelter.
Chrissy was previously named Allyah and was abandoned by her previous owners. The shelter was pretty sure she had been abused (later on we would discover she was terrified of newspapers, esp if they were rolled up, and would cower when you raised your arms). I spent the rest of my birthday money on food, toys, collars, leashes and other dog supplies.
I showed Chrissy in the 4H dog program. (We always did horrible!) I slept in her crate with her a few times so she wouldn't have to be alone. I took her to the barn with me. She was a great family dog, got along with my older sister's (nasty) Chihuahua that she got the next year and pretty much left our cats alone.
Chrissy bonded with my dad the most. When I got married, we decided it would be best for Chrissy to stay in the home she was used to (and my dad didn't want to give her up!) and I got my current puppy, Vader. Chrissy never liked other big dogs, but she tolerated Vader and he, even still, respects her.
Chrissy is 14 years old. She is a Border Collie/Lab mix. Yes, that is old for a big dog. Still, this doesn't make it any easier. Chrissy hasn't been in good health the last year. She has hip dysplasia and pretty much has no muscle mass left. She can barely walk and needs to be carried. She hasn't eaten for about a week and barfs after just drinking water.
She is being put down tomorrow. I hate it. I hate that I question if it's 100% right. Our vet thinks it is, and she said that she doesn't want Chrissy to suffer like she is right now. I know very well that her body is shutting down. In the back of my mind, I'm still hoping she will wake up tomorrow with improvement; just anything to give us a good reason to give her more time. And I knew this day would come. I just didn't expect it to be so hard.
As Hayden says in DC, "Losing someone isn't easy. They say time heals everything but I think all it does is fill the wound with scar tissue; it will never heal but it won’t be the painful gaping hole it once was." Losing Chrissy isn't going to be easy. Being able to be there with her will be hard as well, but I want to be there with her until the very end.
I cherish every moment I have with Vader, and I know someday we will go through this with him...with all my animals. It almost makes me not want another animal so I won't have to go through the loss again. But the time spent together before then is wonderful.
One of my favorite things about animals is that they don't judge you. People say that someone is 'acting like an animal' like it's a bad thing. In some ways, we should act more like animals. Enjoy the little things. Take people for who they are. Love unconditionally.
I will always love you, Chrissy Lou