You came to the veterinary hospital that I worked in as a new graduate. The pet store you came from had spent a lot of money on the previous dog and elected to euthanize you. You were nine weeks old and two pounds, two ounces. You were lethargic and sad. My mentor knew that if she had the pet store sign her over to us, she could likely get me to adopt you. I asked Tom. He said no.
I brought you home anyways and he didn’t talk to me for two whole days. It is true that I brought you home at the end of an emergency shift, about 4 am. It is true that he was in the midst of his graduate finals week. It is true that with a round of antibiotics you were full of tiny beans and readily learning to bark like a tiny terrier. It is true that you weren’t house trained. It is also true that you were the very apple of Tom’s eye and while I totally swindled him, I have not one single regret.
You must have had the favor of the Goddesses reigning over us, because Bella loved you from the start. Let’s remember something, here, Miss Liesel. Bella, our bedraggled pit bull mix, loved me, liked Tom, and feared Churchill the cat. She didn’t like anyone else. We called you here little therapy dog because you settled her with your innocent gentle way.
Churchill, our 6ish month old cat, looked at you and immediately took you in his arms and started grooming you. What a wreck he thought you were! We called you Bobby and Cindy Brady because you were always bothering each other and yet always in cahoots.
When you ran through the grass, you looked like you were joyfully floating. We used to joke that you looked like the little scrubbing bubbles sponge on that commercial. You once stole a roll of toilet paper and ran through the house like a tiny bandit, not very sneaky with your trail of white paper streaming behind you.
You moved a million times with us. You didn’t seem to care other than that you were with us. You would come to my work and bark with indignation when any of the other dogs misbehaved. This earned you the name Po-Liesel. Someone even bought you a tiny police uniform for Halloween.
When I was pregnant with Trudie, and my belly grew ever bigger, you would perch atop it while I sat and rested. Tom pointed out it looked like you were hatching an egg. When Trudie was born, you were tired from all those late nights, and happy with the one walk I could muster to give you and Bella after an hour of preparation. You sat tirelessly at my side in our big comfy chair, while I nursed that baby for hours a day.
We went camping that year, for some reason that made sense at the time (who brings a 6 month old baby camping in cold New England? I’m not sure) where you discovered the delight of burrowing to the very bottom of Tom’s sleeping bag. We couldn’t figure out how you could breath. From then on, every winter, you would sleep at our feet, under the covers, like a little warm water bottle all night.
After Bella died, you adopted Duke. Large, fumbling, graceless Duke, the chocolate labrador. You trained him early. You would sit on the bed in your shared (you insisted) crate and he would stuff himself in the corner. You would lightly torment the cats, Churchill and Roosevelt, whereas Duke would take about a ten foot radius to avoid them.
When I was pregnant with Maisie, we laughed when you chose not to hatch this egg. You were wise to be hesitant as out she came with a bang! However, you didn’t bat an eyelash as those babies crawled, walked and disrupted each and every routine. You would let Trudie try over and over again to put your leash on with her little toddler hands. You would let both girls snuggle you tightly and introduce you to all their friends and be patient and kind and just seemingly hope for the best.
When we mourned Duke, we were, the two of us, a wreck. The rest of the family pushed for a puppy to cheer us up. Six long months later came Otto off a truck from Indiana. Lovable, hyperactive, Otto. You patiently kept walking as he pulled on your leash. You kindly ignored him as he lifted his leg and accidentally peed on your back. You liked his company, he let you be in charge, and you overlooked his horrible manners.
When you were twelve, something seemed off. You would fall occasionally and I started worrying about your spine. I brought you to my neurologist friend for a look. We started with some medicines to help with inflammation in the discs between your vertebra, guessing that might be the problem.
On one of my least favorite nights of my life, you were panting and uncomfortable. I gave you some pain medicine from my house call bag and sat with you on our bed. It wasn’t enough and I started to worry that you might have pancreatitis, as your breed is known to get. I brought you to the hospital and they agreed you needed some more pain management and we decided to take a look in your belly with an ultrasound until an internal medicine friend could evaluate you in the morning.
I went home to a worried family with an uncomfortable heart. When my friend looked inside your abdomen, there was a fishy area that could be a tumor or could be a foreign body. I knew it wasn’t a foreign body. The fluid around it was deemed likely cancerous. We talked about surgery but it didn’t seem right. The veterinarian inside me wanted to know, the mama inside me wanted to bring you peace. You still weren’t comfortable no matter the medicines and you wouldn’t eat and your bowels were increasingly deteriorating.
I brought you home to Tom. We loved on you and told you we loved you a million times. We sat with you on the couch in the sun with the view of the yard. We picked the girls up at school and had to tell them it was time to say goodbye. They sobbed and held you and broke my already broken heart into more and more shattered pieces. Your brave little soul was present and kind as always and let us all fall apart.
As tears rolled down Tom’s cheeks, the girls were amazed to see that their dad could cry. As the gentle, sweet beloved that you were, his tears were safe with you. We were all always safe with you and I feel you ever present with us as our tiny family mascot.