When Don and I decided to move in together, a little over a year after we first met, we knew we wanted to live in a house so that we could adopt a dog. Within a week of the actual move-in date, we were at the Humane Society. The first dog we saw was a black Aussie shepherd mix, who was trembling in his cage. Turns out that at the age of 18 months, he had just been given up for adoption by his family because of allergies. He was frightened and didn’t understand why he was no longer with his family. He broke my heart.
We went on to look at many other dogs that day, but that trembling boy kept tugging at our heart strings and we ended up back at his cage. We asked for some time with him in a special area set up for that sort of thing. They brought him to us and we knelt down and talked to him and petted him. I had placed my purse on the floor of the pen so that I could concentrate on petting him. He promptly went over and peed in it.
He marked his territory. Us.
We adopted him. He was named Winston and we liked that name. It suited him. We had to wait a day or two for him to get checked out by the Vets at the Humane Society and for them to take a fecal sample. We waited and waited. Why? Because he wouldn’t poop. Finally, they…ahem… ‘went in’ to get a sample. We brought him home and he promptly pooped in our backyard.
That boy marked us again. It was meant to be.
Here he is with the ball he would pick up and carry in his mouth each time he moved from one room to another. Lord, he was a beautiful boy. At one point, we almost lost him from an illness that was a baffling mystery for a long time. He lost weight. He threw up. He was weaker and weaker. Eventually, it was determined that his pancreas was not working and from that moment on he was on special medication for the rest of his life, medication that helped his pancreas to function. That medication brought our boy back to us.
We loved him deeply. We ended up getting Scout so he could have some company. And, when we decided to move from San Diego to New York, our babies moved with us across the country to our new rental cottage.
A couple of years after we moved out east, Winston suddenly cried out in pain. His tail stayed down. We took him to our Vet and during the course of an ultra sound, the Vet said he couldn’t hear a heart beat. He discovered that was because Winston had a tumor on his heart. Suddenly, we were talking about draining fluid from the lining of his heart, something that might keep him alive for six more months. He was eight years old. But that ended up being a wishful fantasy because within five days – in and out of the hospital – he was in so much pain that we knew we had to let him go.
I didn’t realize it until I came out of it, but I went into a mild depression for several months after Winston’s death. I had Scout to take care of and that helped keep me somewhat anchored. But the loss of our boy, so young, so suddenly, really took its toll on both of us.
I don’t mention him often on this blog, which was started a few years after his death. I found that photo the other day and I took a picture of it, so that I could share it with you. It’s also going on my sidebar.
This is the ornament we bought that first Christmas without him (photo taken last year.) Every year, it’s the last ornament we put on the tree.
This year, I realized I hadn’t found an ornament for our Riley and I felt tremendously guilty about that. It’s been over two years since his death. I bought one yesterday, which will serve as a place marker until I find the perfect ornament for our other beloved boy. And I will.
By the way, we adopted Scout when she was eleven months old – still a puppy. In those days she had short hair. She was our desert dog, having been rescued from a desert-like area of California.
I found a photograph of her yesterday. This is what she looked like.
I mean. Look at her! All eyes and ears. You see why we couldn’t resist her.
All of our dogs have been rescues. We strongly believe in that. They’ve all been older. Winston was 18 months old. Scout was just under a year old. Riley was at least two years old.
Our dogs aren’t ‘like’ our children. They are our children. Even if we had human children, that wouldn’t change.
Simple as that.
Scout will be celebrating her 16th birthday on January 4th. Oh yes, there will be a party.
This Christmas, and every Christmas, we remember our beloved Winston and Riley.