I got the dreaded phone call at 10:45 a.m. while Hubster was at work in a meeting.
Our beloved puppy - well, our beloved 20-year old puppy - hasn't eaten in three days and has ceased drinking water. She's falling a lot more. My mother, who was on the other end of the phone and sobbing, told me that she thought it was time. According to what our vet said, we think it's time, too.
So right now, Hubster is driving over to Mom's house to pick up Cheyenne for one last car ride. He'll take her to our vet for a 2:30 p.m. appointment, sit on the couch with her head in his lap, and stroke it gently while the vet administers the shots which will end any suffering she's undergoing and allow her to pass gently to the next world. She'll leave us knowing that she's loved and not alone. He wouldn't let me come because a) he didn't want me to see her looking like she does; he'd rather I remember her the way she was when she was well, and b) because I simply can't handle it. So here I sit, pouring out my grief and smoking like a chimney. Needless to say, all work has stopped for the next several hours.
I remember the first time I saw her. We were at the pound looking for a dog. I walked by her several times because she blended in with the wall she was leaning against. I walked up to the chain link fence and stuck my fingers through it; she walked over, sat down, laid her head against my fingers, and closed her eyes. We adopted her on the spot. Hubster had to pick her up and put her in the car because she was terrified. Her previous owners had stated they couldn't afford to keep her. What they didn't say is that they abused her horribly.
When we got her home, she walked into our bedroom and promptly peed on the carpet. We told her "no" and she hit the floor on her belly, trembling. She spent the next two weeks on the couch with her head in my lap. When she finally realized that she had a yard to play in, people who loved her, and that she would never be beaten again, she got off the couch and began to act like the sweet creature she was. She never again peed in the house; she always went to the door, no matter where we were.
She loved to ride in the car. She'd jump in, sit up for about five minutes, and then lay down and go to sleep.
She loved to run - for about five minutes. Then she would sit and look at you like you were an idiot.
I heard her bark perhaps three times in all the years we had her. If she heard something that wasn't right, she got up and went to the door with her head cocked. The only time she barked was when there were cats on the fence. It was her duty to chase them away. She protected us with the fierceness of a lion and with no thought to her own safety.
When the grands came along, she took them under her wing and protected them the same way she did us. If she heard something in their nursery - like them stirring - she would immediately get up and go into their room to check on them. If they required our attention, she came and stood in front of us until one of us got the hint and followed her into their room.
She had a huge bed in the family room. There were two niches, one on each side of the fireplace. One held our 64" projection TV; the other held her bed. I only mentioned the size of the TV so you would know the size of her bed. My mom gave it to her for Christmas one year, and it filled up that entire niche from side to side. She loved to sleep in there and watch everything that was going on. My kitchen shared the great room where the family room was, and if I was making something like hamburgers, I always made her a little one. If I made hot dogs, she got one. If it was something she could eat, she got her own made just for her and just the way I thought she liked it.
As her sight began to grow a little dim, she fell into the pool one day. I went outside to go swimming and walked right past her. She was standing on her hind legs with her front paws on the deck and her head resting on her paws. Hubster had to come out and pick up her.
She never varied from her 43-pound weight all her life - until now. She was a pound puppy through and through; I suspect she had some sort of hound, perhaps Rhodesian Ridgeback, in her. She was lean, a beautiful golden color which bleached to a shimmering gold in the summer, and the worst breath I've ever smelled. I adored her.
She was adopted in Arizona and went through four moves with us. When we lost our home in Sacramento, she had to stay with my mother because we lived in a residence hotel for three months. In those three months, she suddenly grew ill, grew old, and all in the blink of an eye. Then she couldn't hold her potty anymore, so my mother spread newspapers all over the floor for her. She couldn't make it outside. By the time we rented this house, we couldn't bring her home. She was in retirement with Mom, and Mom and Grandma took excellent care of her.
Mom said that this past week, Cheyenne had been toddling to the front door and cocking her head to the side, just like she used to do when we came home. Mom thinks she was looking for us. Maybe she was. Maybe she was trying to tell us that she wanted to ride in the car again, to lay on the back seat, to be with us for one last time.
Hubster will grieve in his own way. I'm more vocal; I've been sobbing since this morning. At 2:30 p.m., I'll fall apart. Her ashes will be put into a lovely box with her name engraved on the front, and her paw print will be cast in plaster for us. She'll rest next to her friend Monkey, the little kitty we rescued.
May you rest in peace, my sweet baby. May your passage be swift and painless; may you have all the chewy bones you can gnaw on and all the cats you can chase.
I loved you then, I love you now, and I'll love you always.