Sunday, January 18, 2009

All Things Must Pass

It's been eight dreary months since my little doggie of fourteen years took a fatal downward spin that left my family heart broken and her passing is still difficult to discuss or even write about. Her name was Muffin and she was half Shih Tzu and half Pomeranian, or what is referred to as a Shi-Pom.

She was the sweetest little dog and she knew no enemies. Everyone was her friend. She loved French fries more than anything in the world and would nip fingers when offered one and it's to my shame and her detriment that I offered her human food at all. Live and learn. Dogs should not eat human food and this time around we are making sure ours eats properly.

When she was very small and still a puppy, the boy down the street accidentally stepped on her and broke her leg. We carried her to the Vet as soon as we could and they set the injured leg. It did not heal like new and consequentially; our doggie walked splayfoot the rest of her days. She didn't seem to mind and on our walks, I would carry her a lot. It was a satisfactory arrangement.

When I went to visit friends and family, she accompanied me and sat comfortably on my lap and folks expected to see her there. She was my friend. I was known to comment that she was the best kid I ever raised. I loved that little dog like it was family and only a pet lover understands the depth of love a pet gives freely.

About seven years ago, I wrote an intimate poem about her and I want to share it with those of you who love animals and know how a wonderful pet massages our soul. I call it 'My Little Animal'.

I have a little animal that lives…in my house

licker, snorter, scratcher, sleeper, my baby.

It's hairy, furry, fluffy…soft as a mouse.

Companion, comforter, snuffer, stinker, my lady.

What would I do without it…in my life?

Player, chaser, trickster and my bestest friend.

My little animal cleanses me…of inner strife.

Eater, beggar, snorer, smiler, its benefits transcend.

Pig dog, sleeper, kitty cat…Muffin, Muffer, Looler.

Where is the kitty cat??? Get em!

Stink bait, road kill, sweetie cakes, pootie, hacker.

Do you want a bath? Chase em!

Morning arrives and I bow down to my little animal.

Descending to its level…I start my greeting.

Scratch, scratch, and scratch, for me visceral.

Rub, rub, and rub…another heavenly meeting.

As much as I miss her (her photo is still on my cell phone), we realize she lived the life of a diva and had anything she wanted, any time she wanted it. She lived a very protected and good life and against all reason, I believe she is nestled in the arms of heaven awaiting my arrival.

Needless to say, I did not take her passing very well and secreted myself away for the grieving process, which to a blessed lesser extent is still in progress. My bride was also severely hurt over our loss and vowed not to bring another doggie into our home. The pain is too deep and she wanted to protect us from a pet life to death reoccurrence.

As the months slipped by I began to voice how I needed another friend to help me in the grieving process and one night I caught my bride watching videos of Shih Tzu's. I welcomed and encouraged this behavior and before much longer we found ourselves at a breeders in Houston and took into our arms a baby female Shih Tzu.

My daughter, Melody, much grieved by the loss of Muffin, selected the new name of Coco Bear and we began the process of housebreaking what is arguably the most difficult breed to housebreak. We wanted a Shih Tzu because Muffin was half Shih Tzu and we thought we knew what we were doing. It wasn't long before we realized our beloved Muffin acted more like a Pomeranian, than this little Ewok monkey.

The Shih Tzu pure breed is a peculiar royal lap dog of unmatched parallel; we quickly found out and began reading everything we could, to help us understand what we had welcomed into our home.

One trainer summed up this stubborn and obstinate dog as either the stupidest dog on the planet or the smartest. This breed cannot be scolded for wrongdoing, but rather rewarded to do well instead. If they want to do something, it's like they are genius learners; if they don't care to learn something, it's going to take forty or fifty concerted efforts on the owners part to get them to do it your way…maybe.

Shih Tzu's are part monkey, part cat, part rabbit and finally part dog. Ask anyone who owns one. Their bottom jaw juts out like a bulldog. Their hair feels and looks like it belongs on a cat and when they are wet; they must be blow-dried, as they can't shake the water out. They hop straight up in the air and run like a rabbit with sudden starts and stops. Their face looks like a cross between a Golden Lion Tamarin monkey and a Star Wars Ewok and they steal your heart like a funny little furry pirate.

Muffin will live on in our hearts through Coco Bear. All dogs go to heaven


Anonymous said...

Bert, Hooray for you for getting another dog. We lost our beloved cocker spaniel Cookie four years ago in a terrible groomer accident. The groomer stood her on the table, but the noose around her neck and either walked away or turned away (a big no-no) and Cookie jumped. Her neck broke. We were shocked, grieved beyond grief and horrified at the way it happened. She was eight and our beloved pet. I still have a picture of her on my desk. We thought we'd never want another pet, but finally got one to fill the hole in our hearts. We got another little cocker but soon learned that even with the same breed, they are very different. Pepper chewed up the carpet in two of our bedrooms (literally pulled up pieces of it and ran with them). She pulled quarter round up from our hall (literally ripped it up). We figure about $2000 worth of damage to our house. We stuck with it and now she will be three April 2 and has grown into a sweet and loving pet. I don't think we'll ever want to be without a dog but next time we might consider a more mature dog from the shelter. I'm not sure I can survive another "bad puppy". :>) Dr. Casey (a local vet who died tragically of a heart attack) used to send out a card to grief-stricken patients who had lost a pet. It was called "the golden bridge" and spoke of pets who were in a beautiful meadow where they were cared for and how they were awaiting their masters and when their masters crossed the "golden bridge" their ears would "perk up" and they would get that doggie smile knowing their master was approaching. Once my daughter said, "we're going to have quite a few waiting for us". Well, I, like you, would like to think my Cookie would be waiting for me. She was indeed special and was my best friend.
Susan McGuyer

Natalie said...

Enjoyed it, Bert. As a fellow pet lover,I totally understand. My beloved doggie is getting old...sometimes I cry because I know this is the beginning of the end :( He LOVES me even when I'm not so lovable...

Good luck getting your new little friend trained. The effort will be well worth it!

Anonymous said...

Awwwwww, sorry to hear of your loss. I am not much of a pet person, however my baby daughter is and I can only imagine what it would be like if she lost Oreo. And yes I would miss seeing him there on the other side of the gate to greet us every time we come home.

Buddy Casto

Star said...


I suffered the loss of my best friend Dec. 31. The charming black and tan German shepherd graced our lives with his presence for ten years before his health took a downward turn. I sat on the porch next to him on that last night and showered him with love, words and tears.

I promised to place his favorite shoe on his grave and prayed that I might see him again in heaven.

The next morning, I set about the task of getting him into the truck for transport to the vet and said my last goodbyes. My heart yearned to keep him, yet I knew it was time to let him go.

We arrived. I looked back at him, patted his head, and told him I loved him.

We walked in, and the receptionist said she was sorry. I could not speak as the tears began to flow once more.

I asked the vet if I could remain with my dog. I wanted to be with him until the end. I didn't want him to be afraid and alone. I wanted him to know that I was there. 'Til death do us part...

I petted his head and spoke to him as he departed this life.

I have not hurt so deeply in years.

I too still cry, and am crying now.

Your column touched my heart today.

Thank you.

Star (of BSF fame)

Anonymous said...

Bringing tears and laughter, this was such a heartfelt and warm story of Muffin and Coco Bear, Bert. As I finished the story and picked up Pookie "Pee" Pie to give her a tight hug and kiss, I sent heavenward the same to my precious pets whose memories live snuggly in my heart.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I hope in doing so your heart is a little less heavy.


Laurie M said...

well, skimming down your blog - I found out why my search for a picture of a muffin brought up your blog. What a cute little dog she was. I love the story of the french fries....the little brat. We have a little malti-poo-poo (yes double the amount of Poodle.
ah...he must have sensed I was writing about him - he's come in from outside to nestle at my feet.

Now, I must get back to the focus of my morning....and enough writing to people I don't know!

What is all the fuss about?

I am seriously scratching my head over the state of our country and the political warfare between not only the 2 parties, but amon...