There’s an oft-repeated statement, as true as it is completely cliché. The problem with pets is that they live long enough to become an integral part of your life, and then they’re gone. And they leave a little animal-shaped hole in your soul that only time heals.

We got Bonnie as a puppy back in 1999, the last girl in a litter of little Sheltie boys. From the beginning, she was smart, kind, and just naturally in tune with Theresa and I. She excelled in obedience, learned to keep watch over the house from her perch in the front window, and Theresa took her everywhere she could. When she was still a puppy, I caught a cold and was crashed out on the couch. She dropped pieces of her dinner kibble next to me because she thought I needed them. She was special.

Bonnie was a great conversation starter. A beautiful girl. Everyone wanted to come say hello to the “little Lassie”. She made many friends around the neighborhood over the years – kids and adults alike. On our walks, kids’ cries of “Look! Miss Bonnie!” came from half a block away. Theresa remarked on how many people we barely know out there probably have pictures of our dog. She was a source of pride and joy.

There were many doggie Salad Days. Those years where you honestly believe your dog’s invincible. That they’ll be around forever. Long walks. Trips to the dog park. Adventures on biking and hiking trails. Playtime with their doggie friends. Furiously barking the mailman away. Nights spent in satisfied exhaustion sleeping at the foot end of our bed. Ours were always slightly tempered knowing that Bonnie was born with congenital hip dysplasia, detected during an early x-ray. But for the longest time, Miss Bonnie was a trouper to be reckoned with.

But then comes the realization that your furry friend is indeed getting older. Getting slower. That you are spending more and more time concerned about their health. Theresa made sure that we always had a wagon, so that when out on walks when Bonnie got sore or tired she always had a ride back. At twelve, we adopted a second dog, and we made sure it was Bonnie who picked him out. Having a sidekick gave her an excuse to act years younger, while still keeping the little whippersnapper in his place.

Of course, nothing stops time. For the last two years, our girl was such the focus of our day to day routine. Medications for her arthritis had compromised her liver function. She was showing signs of canine senility. We reduced the doses of one medicine, and added others to make up for it. She started getting weekly injections of Adequan for her joints. Anipryl helped restore the majority of her mental function. We stressed when the veterinary pharmaceutical companies couldn’t maintain adequate supplies of medications. We changed diets to adjust to her needs, modifying them and preparing them by hand when that became necessary. We took her to physical therapy, and gave her as much exercise as she would do. She never complained. She bore every indignity with grace, and still made sure she did her job as watchdog to the best that her aches, old eyes, and old ears would let her.

Then, over the period of a bit more than a week, she got very ill. And kept getting worse. Lost interest in eating. Lost energy. We took her in, and she ended up on 24 hours of IV medication, looked in better shape. But after removing her from IV support, she started to regress quickly. Our stoic lady who always put on a brave face was obviously hurting. Then comes that choice. That hard choice. The one you never want to make. Where you have to put your needs and wants way the hell behind that of your beloved companion. And give them rest.

Goodbye, Miss Bonnie girl. You gave us over fifteen years of joy, pride, and happiness. You helped us grow as people. We gave you a home, comfort, care, love. You gave it back in spades. You gave us a test. I hope we passed. I hope you felt we deserved you.

1 Comment

  1. A beautiful eulogy for a beautiful friend. I’m crying again. Now, I have to go hug on my pups awhile…