This weekend was a little emotional here in our home. We’ve had to say goodbye to a beloved family pet. Trinity wasn’t doing well Saturday, and when we woke up Sunday morning, we found she had died during the night. I must say, it wasn’t unexpected. She had been sick for quite a while. And after all, she was 17 years old. But how do I say goodbye to a dog who has been a constant companion to me for the past 16 years? How do I help my kids say goodbye to a dog who has been part of the family for their entire lives? After all, this dog has escaped death so many times. It’s really still a little hard to process that she’s actually gone for good.
One of the ways I do it is to talk about (or write about) all the crazy shenanigans Trinity has gotten herself into over the past 16 years. She really was a funny dog. She was a constant guard of the food bowl. In fact, we don’t know exactly how we’re going to keep Sandy from eating too much anymore, now that Trinity is gone. Trinity was Sandy’s self control.
The first time I met Trinity, I was looking to adopt a dog from the pound. I was in college, and I had grown up with dogs always in the house. So when I moved out of the dorms, and into my first apartment, getting a dog was my first order of business! Off to the pound I went. There were all sorts of dogs, all barking and anxious for attention. But one dog in particular caught my attention. She was standing with her front feet up on the kennel door, jumping up and down, desperately barking at me, and trying to dig her way through the chain link door. I told one of the employees that I wanted to visit with that dog. I took her out into the yard area they had there at the pound for people to use to get to know the animals. She stole my heart right away. She was active and personable. I just knew she was the dog for me. So I took her to the front to start the paperwork and pay for her.
The adoption fee was usually $75. The lady at the front tap-tapped on her computer for a minute, and then frowned. She said, “I’m afraid we may have a problem here.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked, concerned.
“Well, this dog has been adopted before. She has already been spayed, so her fee would only be $25.”
“I don’t see the problem there!” I joked.
“Well,” she frowned, “she has been adopted before, and they brought her back this morning. They said she was too much trouble. It was an older couple though, perhaps she was just too active. She is scheduled for…” she trailed off. “You are sure this is the dog you want? She may be a problem.”
“Yes, I’m sure this is the dog I want.” Even though she hadn’t said it, I knew perfectly well what this poor dog was scheduled for, and that wasn’t going to happen to her! I knew I couldn’t save them all, but I could save this one.
“Alright then,” said the woman. “Just in case it doesn’t work out for you though, I’ll hold your check for a week. You can just bring her back and you’ll save the money.”
Well, I had just been challenged! There was no way the dog was going to come back to this place. I didn’t care how “difficult” she might be. She was my dog now, and we’d figure it out.
We went straight to the pet store to get some dog food and a proper collar and leash. I got her a kennel to use while I was in class. I took her to the vet for her shots and check up at the first opportunity.
It turns out, she did have a few quirks. She was not a huge fan of other dogs…a fact which made visiting my parents and their three dogs a little challenging at first. But she got used to them. Well, all but one of them. But it was easy enough to keep the two of them separated while I visited for a weekend. She got agitated whenever she saw other animals of any kind…especially large animals like cattle and horses. That made the car rides back and forth to college rather interesting since the roads led through 3 hours worth of rural Texas.
She was a very active dog, and still rather young. The vet estimated that she was about 10 months old. So she wasn’t completely out of her puppy phase yet. That explained why she was still a little “difficult”. We played a lot, and she had tons of toys. She seemed to be pretty happy. She took to kennel training very well. The kennel was her own little house, and she was perfectly happy to stay there while I was in class. Night time was a completely different story, however. Soon, even though I had every intention of having her sleep in the kennel, she had wormed her way out, and was sleeping at the foot of my bed.
About a month after Trinity first came to live with me, we went home to visit my parents. We had plans to go to the state fair. So, on Saturday morning, I put Trinity outside in the back yard while I was getting ready to go. I walked by the door, and noticed her laying on her side…she appeared to be sleeping. That was odd behavior for her so early in the morning. I went out to check on her. She could barely stand, and was obviously very sick. I called to my mom and dad. They helped me get her in the car, and drove us to their vet.
It turns out, she had been poisoned. Mom and Dad told me that they’d been having some trouble with some boys in the neighborhood, messing with their dogs. Chances are, someone had tossed something over the fence, intended for my parents’ dogs, and Trinity had eaten it. Since it was Saturday, my parents’ vet got Trinity stabilized, then we took her over to the emergency clinic, where I had worked so many years in high school and during the summers in college. Fortunately, I had an employee’s discount, so I only payed the hospital’s cost for all of her treatment. Even so, I had to have help from my parents in order to afford all the treatment.
By the end of the weekend, she was still weak, but she was healthy enough to come back to school with me.
On pins and needles? Now you can read Part Two.