I really hate being sad. I don’t read or watch the news. I steer clear of movies with anything depressing in them – including horror because bad things happen to people in those and it makes me sad. And I don’t like sad books. In fact, I’ve basically cut out any book that I know will have sad parts in it. It’s only chick-lit for me. Give me Sophie Kinsella every single day.
So I was having a really hard time today because I knew that our oldest boxer, who would be 10 in August, would be crossing the bridge in the evening to be with AJ, our dog who died suddenly (and in my lap) in 2009. With Annie, it is different. We chose her time. We got to say our goodbyes. (A blessing and a curse.)
Last night, I made popcorn specifically for Annie (we share a passion for the popped kernel), and I spent the entire evening sitting on the floor with her. I cried into her soft, white neck for a while, and as always, she became concerned. She’s the “mom” of all of our dogs – and our 6-year-old-boxer Lucy’s actual mother. She doesn’t like it when anyone argues or cries, so she tries to comfort you, which is basically how she got her nickname: “Nana.” I guess she also doesn’t like to be sad.
Which is why we knew it was time to let her go. She just looked so sad. And everything was a struggle for her – her back legs were almost completely useless. She only got up to eat or if we carried her outside to go potty.
Yesterday, at work, I was feeling so upset and guilty all day about the idea of letting her go. But when I got home and saw her, it was even more upsetting to watch her struggle. The really hard part, though, is that mentally, she was alert. She was not blind, she was not deaf and she was (probably) not in any pain. But she couldn’t hardly walk, let alone run, and she wasn’t interested in playing or anything like that. A few weeks ago, I bought her a pink Loofa dog, which had always been her favorite toy, and she just didn’t care about it at all.
Annie has a disease called degenerative myelopathy (DM). It is equivalent to multiple sclerosis in humans in that it slowly paralyzes the body. It is a horrible, horrible thing to watch (we first noticed her scuffing one of her back feet about a year ago). I can’t imagine what it must be like for people to live with MS (and for their families to see).
Some good news is that now there is a genetic test for DM so we can begin to eliminate this awful disease by not breeding dogs that have the gene. This is just one reason why, when buying a dog, you should buy from a responsible breeder if you choose to get a pure bred. People make fun of crazy dog show people, but we care about our breed. Our goal is to breed only the healthiest dogs possible.
“Backyard Breeders” do no testing and do not care about the betterment of the breed. They are in it for your money. They don’t give a crap about the dogs…or what diseases get passed down through their irresponsible, and sometimes inhumane, breeding practices. And they don’t care what you have to go through when you watch your baby suffering from it all. It’s really sad. Please do not buy dogs from “pet” stores; do not buy from backyard breeders. (Annie is from a responsible show breeder, she was just born before the test was available. Unfortunately, she also was bred one time before the test was available.)
Nana has had a good life. She was our very first boxer and she was spoiled. She used to sleep between me and Mr. T in our Queen-size bed. In the night, she would stretch her feet straight out, pushing us apart to make more room for herself. And when she was a puppy and wouldn’t eat, we fed her from a spoon!
Annie, however, was not a good show dog. It’s not that she didn’t like it. It’s that she liked dog shows too much! So many people to meet and greet! Plus, when in the ring, she would ham it up, making the audience laugh, which only fueled her to clown more…and embarrassed Mr. T (which made me laugh). If only there was a talent competition in dog conformation! Annie could (before DM) jump up and give you a high-five, shake hands, and she knew how to wave.
This morning, Brad Paisley’s When I Get Where I’m Going came on the radio.
When I get where I’m going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I’m gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly like a bird
When I heard this, I pictured Nana running with AJ like they used to do when they were puppies. I know that when Nana gets where she’s going, she’ll find him and they will be able to do this again.
Tonight, when we let our Nana go — freeing her from her failing body — I was really sad. I cried, big gasping-for-air sobs. I wanted them to be happy tears, like Brad Paisley sings about, but I would be lying if I said they were.
I need some happy news. Tell me a funny story or something good that happened to you today.