An Empty Kitchen
Played poker tonight, but no poker content in today’s post, sorry. For now, a story about a girl and her dog.
Growing up my Aunt Amy (really my Godmother, but we always referred to her as my Aunt) always had a pomeranian. I loved those dogs. I remember one of them was fiercly protective of her and even “attacked” me, pulling on my long nightgown one morning when he thought I was getting too close to her. So it was no surprise that I wanted one too. My father though was a cocker spaniel man. We had one ever since I was born, named Dallas (the story was that he named the dog Dallas so that he could yell at the Cowboys – “Dammit Dallas!” – and the neighbors would think he was yelling at the dog.) Dallas was a great dog, continuing to guard the house and family as best he could long after he had gone mostly deaf and blind. He lived with my father in Huntsville, TX (my parents weren’t divorced…long story) and passed away when I was in high school. We also had Murphy, a blond cocker spaniel that we had rescued one day at Petco, simply because he was there, and my father had always wanted a blond cocker spaniel. We take in animals, you see. We briefly had another cocker spaniel that we had rescued, she also lived in Huntsville with my father, but she was a pure breed, and apparently died during a thunder storm from some sort of shock – our best guess was that she got scared from the lightening and thunder, and had some sort of heart problem. We also had a dachshund named Austin (notice a theme?)…but never a Pom.
I had two cats growing up. One named Snowball (come on…every girl needs a white cat she can name Snowball) and when I got older and became a politics geek, a brown tabby rescue my father surprised me with that I named Foley, after the Speaker of the House at the time, Tom Foley.
Once I did get into college and move to Austin, I missed my Foley, of course. I was living with my cousin, and he got me a cat. A cute black kitten I named Fitzgerald, after a club I spent many a night at in Houston. I then met my soon-to-be husband, Jason, and he had a cute little black kitten of his own, Moose. Moose then got herself knocked up (all planned, of course) and had a litter of kittens. We kept one, and Jason’s sister named her Ugly (she was, when she was a kitten…she’s beautiful now). Then about a year later came Little Sister. But still no dog…
For Christmas that year, I got a promise from Jason…when we had the money, I’d get my Pom. Well, I did some soul-searching. Puppies are cute and all, but there are an awful lot of dogs out there that need good homes. It just didn’t seem right to spend hundreds of dollars on a new puppy when there were so many dogs sitting in the Humane Society waiting for someone to give them a home. It turned out that there was a pomeranian rescue organization in Texas, and they had Poms in need of homes right then. So one day in January, 1998, Jason & I drove to Lake Jackson, TX to pick up our new baby. His name was Reddy. Guess what color he was? 🙂
We didn’t tell anybody what we were doing. And at one point in the trip, we were litterally 30 miles from my parents house. But I knew if my parents knew they would disapprove, because we already had three cats, and “didn’t need another damn animal”. But I was finally getting the dog of my dreams, and I didn’t care if it made sense or not. And he was so cute… I’ll never forget, on the way back to Austin, we stopped and got McDonald’s, and Jason fed him french fries in the backseat. (Spoiled from the very beginning).
We went all out with Reddy…toys, bed, treats, hell, we even etched his name into a glass treat jar. Of all that, only the treats and treat jar remain to this day. Reddy didn’t care about toys or a bed. He was not an “active” dog. Normal Poms are. Reddy was not breed standard, by any means. He was too tall, too wide, and did not give a damn about it at all. His idea of the pefect day? Wake up, trip outside to the bushes, come back in, sleep, dinner at 8 (and I mean, promptly at 8 ), more sleep, another trip outside, then bed.
From the beginning, he tested us. Oh yes, there were the usual discipline battles you have with any new pet. But I’m talking about the “how much do you love me?” kind of tests. And Reddy wanted you to prove with trips to the emergency vet. So he would come down with all sorts of mysterious ailments – he’d be out walking with Jason, and suddenly yelp, and then favor his leg. What?? Break it? Sprain it? Bee sting? What???? He would be in such pain…until you’d get to the vet ER…and then he’d be FINE. But not so fine that you’d get out of the visit fee. He did this act time and time again…
It got so bad, that one time on a visit to Ft. Worth, we were at Jason’s parent’s office, and Reddy was on a ledge, standing by me. Now, Reddy was not a jumper. At all. He wouldn’t even jump out of my Mustang. Floorboard. So we weren’t worried. But sure enough…there he went…must have been a good eight feet. He landed on his back, and it took Jason and I a full minute to get over the shock. Once we got to him, he was bleeding out of his mouth, and immediately, we were thinking, “Great…another ER vet trip…”. But we were so jaded to his little visits that we actually stood there in the yard of the office and debated as to if we would take him or not (we weren’t evil, just poor, and this dog was the master of deception!). Turns out he had just bitten his tounge thankfully, so we cleaned him up and all was well. This was afterwards known as the time Reddy tried to kill himself, or, how Reddy got his food forever changed to Pedigree Little Champions pouches.
Since Reddy was adopted, his age was unknown. Best guess was 6 or 7. Poms live a long time. But that puts him at 13 or 14 now. So he was an old man…so it wasn’t uncommon for him to have bladder issues. So he was often confined to the kitchen, with baby gates at both openings. Hence the all too common response in our family and group of friends to the question “Are you ready?” – “No, he’s in the kitchen!”. Everyone groans…but they love it. It catches on quick, and that’s how you know you’re part of the family, when you start using that in your conversation. And again, bladder issues. We go through Swiffer WetJet products in this house like gangbusters. One time after returning home after the dinner portion of our Movie Night outing, I found that Reddy had relived himself on the kitchen floor. As I proceed to clean it up, I remarked, “I love coming home to piss on the kitchen floor.” My friend Bill replied, “What are you doing peeing on the floor girl?”
Like I said, he was an old dog. These past few months, he’s been laying around a lot. The other day I was standing near the kitchen with my friend Jonathan, and remarked “Sometimes I stare at him a while, just to make sure he’s really breathing.” Jonathan’s reply was, “I know. I do too.”
Monday night, I was about to go to bed, and Ugly, who is normally somewhat graceful, decided for whatever reason (I like to think she was guided by divine force – either St. Francis or the spirit of a recently departed Boston Terrier who helped raise her when her mother was too sick to do so) to knock off a can of root beer from the coffee table. When there wasn’t enough napkins on the table to clean it up, Jason went to the kitchen to get more. There he found Reddy on the kitchen floor, surrounded by blood. He had a nose bleed, with no apparent cause. So off to the emergency vet, where it’s not normal for them to have your information already in the computer…
The guess was that it was either his teeth (which were bad) or something else…something else being either cancer, or an auto-immune disease, or who knows what. Blood was drawn, and that indicated it wasn’t the teeth. Well damn. So off to the regular vet today. More tests. On the way home, Reddy shuddered a little in my arms…almost like a little seizure. I didn’t really know what it was, and kinda thought it was my imagination, but kinda knew…my puppy wasn’t in good shape. While I was getting ready for bed tonight, he did it again. Jason was trying to figure out some way for Reddy to sleep with us…and then Little Sister heard him crying.
I’m gonna miss my puppy.