Saturday, February 10, 2007


I was all set to write a post on how good a time we had at the big VNSA Used Book Sale that we go to each year. But that was before we came home from the sale to find our pug, Duchess, listless and laboring to breathe. We rushed her to the vet, but looking in her eyes on the way, it was like a light had been switched off. Even before we got to the animal hospital, I think we both knew it was too late. The vet said it was most likely some kind of autoimmune disorder that finally just hit some threshold that sent her over the edge. We'll never know. Whatever had happened was not reversible and we had to have her put down. She couldn't breathe on her own any more and had lapsed into a coma.

I can hardly even write about it. But I just wanted to say something about what she meant to us. She was our "baby" before we had Alex. Her time with us spanned over half our marriage and the entire life of our son.

We took her on vacations or would have friends and family watch her. We never boarded her even when we went on vacation because were afraid of what she would think. We had adopted her from the Arizona Humane Society and we thought it might bring back memories if we put her in a kennel. Silly, I know. But she was people to us.

She got along great with other dogs (that's her best friend, Tasia) and with kids. We weren't sure how she'd react when we had Alex but she was nothing but loving and protecting from the very beginning. They were best buds and have always gotten along great.

It's obviously not on the level of a relative or close friend dying. But after having Duchess for 7 years, it's damn close. When a pet gets up to 10 years or so, you know that their days are numbered but it still comes as a shock. And usually there is a gradual deterioration. This was sudden. We're not sure what happened. Last night she was normal ... today, this.

I'll miss the way such a small dog could take up half the bed and steal all the covers. I'll miss the way she worked so hard to train us over the years. She would go and stare at her food bowl at 8:00 and 5:00 every day until you fed her. She was like clockwork. I'll miss the way she greeted us when we would get home each day with the kind of unconditional love that you could only dream of from most humans.

I can't even think about getting another dog at this point. I'm sure we will, but right now the pain is too acute.


CyberKitten said...

Hey dbackdad. I'm really sorry to hear about Duchess.

I know *exactly* how you feel. My cat, Kim, died of cancer a few years back. I'd had her in my life for over 14 years and I still can't bring myself to get another pet. After she died I still imagined I heard her or saw her around the house. It felt empty without her for ages afterwards.

Pets are an important part of our lives. They become very much part of the family despite them not being human. Inevitably they are missed when they go.

Eric said...

Our condolences. Duchess was always a character, and always fun to have around. I remember she was so cubical in shape that she couldn't swim. Jules wants to make Alex a card, Tasia sends her love as well. Hope the little guy isn't taking it too badly.

Sadie Lou said...

I wrote a long comment--I wonder where it is?

Sadie Lou said...

Ok, well I just said that I grew up with a Boston Terrie named Domino. He was like a member of the family. He passed away 2 years ago around Christmas. He and my husband shared the same birthday.
He suffered a seizure the morning of his death and my dad and I thought he would be ok. We didn't even tell my sisters that he had one but the pain and sadness in my dad's voice was horrible.
Later that day, Dorado passed in his sleep.
I can't even picture the sad scene of my parents finding him dead.
My dad called me and we had this moment of sadness while we cried together.
I never even called my sisters after they found out--too sad.
My parents have gotten another Boston named Dorado.
I don't like him.
I'm so, so sorry for your loss and I know just how you feel.
Hang in there.

Scott said...

Wow, sorry to hear it friend.

John said...

Laura and I feel for you. We understand how close the pet/owner bond is. Your pets are reflections of your humanity, in my opinion. The happier they are, the closer you become to human perfection.

Pugs are some of the best little dogs. And your beautiful baby (the black one) looked like one happy sausage.

greatwhitebear said...

You have my deepest condolances. I think there is a special place in man's hearts for dogs, which is why we hurt so much when we lose them.

dbackdad said...

I knew all of you would understand that bond. And that's why I ended up writing about it. All of your kind words are an unbelievable help and we appreciate them greatly.

Eric said, "I remember she was so cubical in shape that she couldn't swim." -- it was hilarious. We'd hold her up at the top of the water to get her to try and swim and she'd just sink like a rock. She kinda ran counter to the belief that dogs are great swimmers. She wasn't a big fan of baths either.

Alex would love a card from Julianna. Thanks.

Also -- Everyone give Eric a big congrats. Eric and his wife had a new baby girl two weeks ago. She's very cute and thankfully doesn't look like Eric. :-)

Sadie Lou said...

congrats Eric!

james said...

I agree with those saying losing a pet is like losing a family member. I feel for you and your family in this time of grief.

I am happy to hear that you are thinking about the good times you shared with your wonderful friend.

May her energy continue in some form.

I send you my love and sympathy.

Sadie Lou said...

I hope you feel good enough to participate in the comments section of my post today. I could use your mind...

Eric said...

thanks, youd think I'd blog about this stuff..

dbackdad said...

Thank you very much James.

Sadie, I'll definitely be ambling over to your blog tonight. Though, I don't know how useful my mind is. It's been of debatable use to me over the years. :-)

shrimplate said...

I love dogs.

I am very sorry for your loss.

Please do get another dog. There's one out there that really needs you and your family.

dbackdad said...

Thanks shrimplate. I'm sure we'll get another one. And we'll probably go the same route ... going through the Humane Society.