You can see the world better now
The hair cut from your eyes
Your excited pupils scan my face
Looking for a sign of approval
“Did I do good?” you ask
Without a word
“Good girl,” I say, “good girl.”
Your mended tail wags in circles
Like a rallying towel in team colors
Spun supportively overhead
“Good girl,” I say, “good girl,”
As you circle and settle in bed
I’ve put this post off long enough. It’s a post I didn’t think I would have to make for another four or five years. And yet here it is.
Madeline, a Schnoodle–that is, a Schnauzer-Poodle mix–was supposed to be the last pet standing. She was our perpetual puppy, frequently playing with toys, walking around like a goofball, and occasionally going on a puppy rampage. All of this she did with much vigor, until her untimely death. She was the second to go, after our cat, Bertram. Only Agatha remains, despite her cancer and heart murmur.
Madeline’s illness and death seemed sudden, but her kidney disease had been silently working. Indeed, by the time she was diagnosed, it was just a matter of days for it to be declared kidney failure. She stopped playing. She stopped eating. It became clear she was in pain. But administering her meds felt like we were torturing her. So we stopped. And one of the most difficult decisions we’ve ever made became glaringly clear. It was time.
The peacefulness in the moments before her death was jarring. She was so calm and sweet. We were shattering inside. But we were thankful to be there for her, surrounding her with love.
Those last moments have looped in our minds, but all the joy and happy times keep bubbling up to the surface. She was a special dog. She was the best dog.
The poem above was written many years before her death. Her “mended tail” had a kink, causing it to wag in a circle, likely the result of getting hit by a car sometime before we adopted her. This came from a vet after examining an x-ray for an unrelated illness. We like to believe that she re-learned how to wag her tail when she came to us. And wag she did.
I don’t remember the first time she wagged her tail, but we could never forget the first time she barked. It was much larger and deeper than you would expect from her then 16-pound body. Quite frankly, it scared the crap out of us.
We knew good things were ahead when Madeline first met Agatha. We were visiting Madeline at the shelter where they had named her Suzie. It was required to have the potential adoptee meet the current dog; in our case, Agatha.
Brought together on the neutral green space outside of the shelter, Madeline immediately wanted to play with Agatha. But Madeline’s bouncy behavior and playful pounces were far too much for Agatha. She gave clear signs of her disapproval.
Madeline, special dog that she was, knew what had to be done. She laid down in the grass and rolled onto her back, submitting to Agatha. It didn’t matter that Madeline had a good five pounds on Agatha, and from that moment they were sisters.
We take comfort knowing that all dogs go to Heaven. There’s at least one cat there, too.