In Memory of a Pet
Do you remember what it is like to be two? When your main concern is how to get the tennis ball from under the chair or get mommy or daddy to pick up the fork you dropped for the nth time. I don't really remember much from my early childhood but what I do remember is my memories, not those of my parents'. As is human nature, I suppose, I remember things that happened to me and how I felt. I rarely remember emotions and occurrences of the rest of my family, unless of course, I caused it or it affected me. For most of my childhood I can say that my parents protected me so much from their concerns that I thought they never had a care in the world other than making me happy.
Normally, Caroline is the center of my universe and there is rarely an event that trumps my interest in all things toddler. Her first pee pee and ca ca in the potty was as, if not more, important in our house as Obama's election. Hurricanes could be blowing down the house, aliens could be landing their spacecraft on my front lawn, but all I'd see is that sweet little face. My main concern is keeping her from crawling through the cat door or touching the stove. Her crisis is my crisis: sippy cups tipping over, missing lovies and blowouts are my worries. My worries now are about making her happy.
This last week, Caroline had to fight a little for my attention as our best canine buddy's health took center stage. After only a month and a half, Dingo's lymphoma took over her body fast and furiously. She was unable to stand Friday night and we had to carry her outside where she would lay on the grass, too tired to stand.
It's a horrible sight to see a healthy, living being disintegrate before your eyes and even worse when she is still so alert in her mind. Andy and I both struggled to deal with the facts, like discussing euthanizing and digging a grave while wrapping Dingo's pussing legs with diapers and feeding her water from a bottle.
Caroline on the other hand, had no problem continuing with life as usual. We had to repeatedly ask her not to sit on Dingo, roll over her or hit her "owees". I had to change Caroline twice in a ten minute time frame for getting puss and blood on her pants after sitting on Dingo's legs. On Sunday, Andy left the house to run and errand, leaving me to deal with sick dog and crazy toddler. I somehow managed to get Caroline's diaper and pants off after a blowout, carry Dingo out to go to the bathroom, run back in to pull Caroline off the couch and window sill, carry Dingo back to her bed, run to get a diaper and clean pants, only to find Caroline pouring her sippy cup on the dog's back while peeing on the carpet.
A few people asked us if we brought Caroline to the vet with us on Monday, Dingo's last day with us. These people do not have toddlers. The last thing Andy or I could have handled as we cradled Dingo's head in our arms would have been Caroline throwing a temper tantrum because her shoe fell off.
I called my mom that night to tell her about losing Dingo and she reminisced about our old pets, their deaths and the impending loss of her two dogs. I remember our old cats and dogs and have a foggy recollection of their passing, (Mom, it was Jared's idea to bury the cat in a shallow grave by the dog house while you slept, not mine. Where was Dad, by the way?) but no memory of how my Mom or Dad reacted to the loss. Their pain was hidden, or, as a child, I was not able to understand the subtle emotions the face can not hide, like silent tears and holding our eyes closed just a second longer than normal.
Caroline asked for Dingo a few times that first night and the days following but she doesn't understand the words heaven or dead. She continues to try crawling through the cat door and scaling the dishwasher. My shoe selection for her this morning spiraled into a diva tantrum. While I do wish she could sympathize with us, her inability to understand makes it that much easier to hide the emotion and forget about the pain. In the end, I'm glad for it and hope her memories of Dingo are about running on the hills in our yard and wet, slobbery kisses, not about her death.
In memory of our beloved Dingo. November 17, 2008.