So, for those of you who have been coming here for a bit, you may know our dog Cleo (or Birdy, as she was known at home) has been quite sick. She was diagnosed with a heart condition last summer and we were told she only had months to live. Well, as she has been prone to do for the last 16 years, she surprised us by hanging in there for more than a year. For the majority of the last year, she has been content and happy, but recently things have taken a turn and we had to make the difficult decision to have her put to sleep. I hate that term, "put to sleep," but what is a better term? Put down? Euthanized? I don't know. Quite frankly, I am of the notion that we should be able to freely decide this for our own selves but that's another post for another day. Anyway, she was the first dog I've ever had that was my own, not a family dog, and she has been an extraordinary one at that. I got her on a whim when I was 20. I was living with my sister and brother in law and they decided to get themselves a husky. I tagged along to the breeder and when we got there, all I heard was barking. My sister was already waiting for me by a cage looking very impatient. She pointed to one of the cages which seemed to contain the world's most hyper cocker spaniel. This thing was like a pogo stick on crack after 11 cups of coffee. Huddled in the rear of the cage was the little white puff ball who was getting stomped by the jumping bean. I looked at my sister, who gave me a nod and then told the lady to open the cage. I took out the puff ball and it was love. The lady told us she was the runt of her litter and no one wanted her because she was small and quiet. She had been there for over 9 months stuck in that cage while the rest of her litter had all gone to their new homes. I held her and knew they would have to pry her our of my cold, dead hands. I had about $8 on me so my sister was so kind as to lend me the fee to take her home and that was that. She has been by my side ever since.
When I was a travel agent, she came to work with me every day and we had clients who would stop in just to visit her. Screw us, WHERE IS THE DOG? She would lie behind me in my chair and sleep most of the day. Most people's first reaction was "Is that a REAL DOG?" Calm doesn't even begin to describe her. Many times we joked that we would poke her to make sure she was still with us! She has always surprised us with her resilience to come back from the brink on more than one occasion. For instance, about 12 years ago, she sniffed up a juniper berry in the yard and soon a plant began to grow in her head. I am not kidding. This thing stunk like rotten garbage covered in more rotten garbage. After numerous vet trips where she was diagnosed with everything from allergies to a brain tumor, my sister and I ended up at the veterinary school at the University of Missouri-Columbia where they removed about a 3 inch section of plant from her nasal cavity. No one could believe it, especially the vets who kept exclaiming "A PLANT IN HER HEAD!" and I think she's in some medical book now. In fact, she was so loved in her short stay there that they would put her on a cart and wheel her around when they did their rounds because they felt too sorry to stick her in a cage. Several years later, she started to experience major pain in her back and neck and could no longer hold her head up. We never thought she would be okay again and the vet said major back surgery was the only option, but we ended up taking her to an acupuncturist and within a couple months, she was good as new. It was amazing and I wouldn't believe it if I wasn't there paying the bill. She also got out of the yard once when I lived with my sister. I didn't know until I heard the doorbell ring and there were about 8 neighborhood kids standing there holding her in their arms. She was all sprawled out and each kid had a bit of her to hold. They apologized to me because apparently she had been out for a while but they were having too much fun playing with her to bring her home right away. They said she just laid in the grass while they took turns petting her.
Everyone who saw her loved her, including my grandma. She wasn't really a dog person but for some reason, they had a special bond and when we would go visit her on the weekends, Meemaw would always have a piece of chicken waiting for her. She was the only dog I knew that would respond to the words "chicken finger." Even our friends who don't have dogs have spent the last year keeping tabs on her progress and visiting her when she was ill. As all dog owners know, the day you have to let them go always comes too quickly, but I am so thankful that I had all these years and all these memories with her that my sorrow is mixed with smiles. I will miss her so very much, as will Jeff who became attached to her immediately. Five months after we began dating, he gave me a Mother's Day card from her, complete with footprints. That's love, people.
With that, all I can say is good bye Bird. I'll miss you every day. Tell Meemaw I said hi.