Both my girls, now twenty three and eighteen, sat out in the back yard feeding our family dog cheeseburgers from MC Donald's. From the porch I looked on imagining the girl's little-some fourteen years ago playing with our dog when we first adopted her. In fact we saved her from death row-no one wanted her, and an old couple brought her back. Said she had issues.
I remember her being the only dog among many scrappy looking dogs that didn't bark at the pound. On two separate visits, yielded the same occurrence-harsh barking and running to the chain link fence in each stall. "Angel," as the girl's later named her, would walk gingerly past a pit bull of which also shared the same kennel, and would lean her paw up against the chain link fence. I remember the second time she had done that, hm, like yesterday, where I stood alone in front of that fence and I almost cried. I was looking for a small dog, or at least hoping to find one. "She," was a young golden retriever, maybe a year old, with a haunting soul that spoke and gave me the slightest of unearthly chills, when we were alone together along that chain link fence.
The girl's loved her. Begged to have her. Their dad asked to see her. Oh, how she was so happy to meet us. Her bushy tail swished contently back and forth while my heart bent. The girl's giggled as the dog wove between their legs. My husband laughed and gave me a look. I rolled my eyes. The girl's named her Angel before we made it to the car.
While I gazed over the back yard watching the girl's feed Angel Mc Donald's burgers, I witnessed Angel lift her head and lick my daughter on the cheek. I can't say the last time I've seen her do that. In fact, it seems a long time since I've seen her even bath our cat, Dora, which Angel groomed constantly since Dora was a babe. Instead Dora would walk up close to Angel and run her face all around Angels with love, expecting at any moment for Angel to mother her, though, Angel often times theses days would turn her head away as if not interested, or remembered at all....her motherly instincts.
I heard the girl's chuckle a few times out on the grass. My oldest daughter was rubbing Angels head with the comforter, something Angel likes and was obviously showing it, or least I was guessing so.
Eventually I pulled myself from the porch railing and went inside to wait for my husband to get home.I felt weary like no other day-and sat on the sofa and watched the clock tick away.
Before we left the dog pound the workers were adamant to tell the story of our newly adopted pet, Angel.
They said, they think Angel climbed the fence of her kennel one night and chewed the side of the wall near the door. They showed us the hole in the wall. We were astounded that she could climb such a high fence to her kennel, plop down and chew her way through a wall.
They also said she had an owner prier to us, an older couple, though after three days they had to bring her back, Angel had bent the door on the dog kennel they had placed her in over night. The wife didn't come with her husband, they said, she was too saddened.
The days in the dog pound were coming to an end, so a worker had said, until we arrived and took a chance.
We brought her home and on every chance she had while we were away from home something was destroyed. The garbage would be knocked over and strewn across the floor. The door frames became stripped from the wall and turned into kindling. It was becoming increasingly obvious this dog did NOT like being alone. But what of her? I didn't know much about dogs as I grew up with cats, so I took to the internet and looked up her breed, and found out something I just couldn't believe. It said golden retrievers will often times have separation anxiety. I spun around on my stool from the computer and laughed, telling my husband. "Can dogs really have this?" I questioned. The following week I was a complete BELIEVER. And in the following months for a year, I piled the (dog) in the car every where I went, until she soon realized I could leave her home alone in short spurts with her understanding fully....that we would indeed be back home. In fact, I taught her that very thing in English, along with elaborate hand gestures, "I'll-be-right-back..."
And I swear she knew! as she knew the word "park," and "car ride," which often times had to be spelled out, than rather said out loud unless in fact you were willing to go for a drive or walk.
Makes me smile even now-thinking of it.
Its 6pm when my husband arrives home. I'm on the sofa trying to find some comfort, and our daughter's are in the back yard with Angel still. My husband heads out to the back yard and I follow him. The clouds are rolling in ugly and black from the south. To the west, however, the sky is bright as if nothings going on.
But it is...and the times going far too fast. Its about time.
While Angel was on her new red leash and ready to leave the pound behind her, we had one last question, was Angel pregnant?
Jabbering ensued from the employees. For that very moment, I'm certain to this day, they figured they had us out the door with Angel without question. Angel was skinny and young, a year or so born, with red fur the colour of both my daughters hair, and long skinny looking pink nipples flopping about, unlike of course, my daughters!
In the months to come Angel's long floppy nipples began to fill. The startling realization of her pregnancy shocked us. I wasn't prepared, and I certainly didn't know anything about dog births, or puppies, or, how many do they have? "Chortles..." Apparently twelve. Four died. I kept calling them kittens, confusing my father on the phone. He'd say, "you have kittens, too?" and I'd laugh, "no, no, dad! puppies I mean."
The puppies mewed a length of time before they yipped, hence calling them kittens by accident.
Angel tried to have these puppies under my daughter's bed, like a cat. Each time I would have to coax her away to a blanket in the pantry room where I had her set up for labor, whatever that was, in a dog.
My husband woke me in the morning to say Angel had her first pup. The girls were so excited and wanted to stay home from school, but I wouldn't let them. Poor Angel birthed almost all day until twelve puppies were delivered and seen my the girls. We tried in vain to keep alive three pups, but it wasn't to be. The fourth pup was born not breathing.
Angel had a mixed bag of breeds. I was quite taken back about that. She had a few German shepherds, three black labs, one monstrous one, and one white one that looked much like a wolf. I raised all eight quite well, if I may say so. Every morning at 5am they would wake and yip, and I would get up and assist Angel like a midwife. When the pups got a little older I introduced wet dog food to them, where a frenzy would take place. Oh, lord! a mess they would make. I would have to get a hand towel and clean puppy faces and paws-eight puppies in, and then they would nap.
I found homes for them all. Some stories of a few of the pups didn't sit well, but nothing could be done, they weren't mine for the saying, though I wished differently. The white wolf looking pup went to a river campground near by. I thought of it as a perfect home with caretakers, though later I heard the pup was put down, unfortunately-it had bit a child. I also heard they had the dog chained to a tree, which brought sadness to me.
As for the large misunderstood black lab of which I adored and wished to have kept? he found a family full of children on a farm. Often times the owner would phone me and tell me how the dog was doing. He too eventually bit a child. I wasn't sure what happened to him in the end-because the lady never called again after that.
Out of the two German shepherds one was run over by the owner, accidentally, in their driveway. And the other shepherd I heard ran away.
We actually had one shepherd roam this neighborhood for years, walking to and fro from the native reserve, of which I believe was once her home, or became her home along the way. I always wondered if the dog was one of Angels pups. It looked so familiar, though wild. One time the dog came to our front yard where Angel was resting in the summer sun and fought Angel for her food bucket. Angel had this funny way of carrying her food bowl in her mouth outside. Sometimes my visitors would look at her twice, and I'd laugh.
As for the wild Shepperd, it was a smart dog. He or she knew the SPCA van and would run like a fire storm. I don't think they ever caught that shepherd, it out witted them all the time.
Once in awhile I would see the shepherd following a different person to town. None of them would claim her to be their own. Other times I would see the shepherd alone walking through the old part of town like she knew every road and cross walk. Smart she was, yes indeed. I've also seen her laying about on the grounds of the native reserve while driving by, she had what looked like mange last I saw her. I haven't seen her in years. I think she was happy. I hope she was happy.
The time is nearing almost 7pm. I'm almost spent and undone, and weary. The girls gather along with their dad, calling the neighbor over to help him get Angel into the car. Angel was going for a car ride, something she once adored with such enthusiasm before her arthritis set in. I wondered, or hoped, that she might perk up, but I could see that she was distressed in the way she was being carried, and not helped along with her walking instead. In the last two days little could she stand on her two hind legs for long, out of a few steps around the yard. My husband and neighbor friend lifted Angel gently into the back of my older daughter's SUV.. The neighbor's dog stood at the fence watching. This pit bull grew up around Angel and used to play endlessly with her, even our cats would put on chase with them.
With Angel now in the vehicle looking a little stunned, out of no where the neighbors dog let out a whine. The owner said, Coota knows.
I came undone.
Everyone for a mile new Angel. She was our indoor outdoor dog. She would slumber for hours out on the front lawn under the plum blossom tree in the summer, lifting an eye open every now and again to a person walking by with a dog. Never did she really leave the lawn until she became a little older-she disliked female dogs and on occasion chase one away with its owner. I'm not sure why that was, but I'd need to chase her back home every time.
People would stop to talk to Angel all the time. Maybe on special occasions Angel would actually get up and greet them. Other times she would merely yawn and roll over. Course, yawning she did best when she got herself into a little trouble, which was rare, but yawn she would if you wagged your finger at her. It was funny.
If Angel wasn't lounging in the front yard in the summer people would ask about her. I would assure them she was well and slumbering along side of the house where the raspberries grow.
The older Angel got the more she would leave the property. Once I found her in the very place from which she came, the dog pound. She looked so sad in the kennel, my heart wrenched, then she saw me, and the gate opened to our happy reunion. She ran out of that place like she was on fire.
The rest of the years I had to keep a close watch on her. She had a long yellow rope attacked to her collar. She could walk a fare size of the front lawn as she had before the unfortunate event of keeping her tied. But soon she would learn to wiggle her neck to and fro until her collar loosened. Its funny now when thinking of it, I would find this long rope stretched clear across the lawn with no dog, but a collar at the end.
You know, once a family at the park took her home with them. They happen to be looking for a dog and being this one had no (ahem) collar! they figured, well I guess, Angel was fare game!
I remember being beside myself with worry for her. A girlfriend and I walked hours into the evening calling for her to no avail. The next morning I received a phone call by the original vet I had taken Angel to when we got her spade. They asked if we still had Angel, and I said we'd lost her. It was then I learned of her whereabouts, and fetched her from a family with good heart who phoned the vet to get her checked out.
Angel was back home again and we were all over joyed. The following years she enjoyed our back yard, and all the neat places of shade where I could see her.
I stepped between my neighbor and my husband and leaned into the back of the vehicle to kiss Angel good bye. It was almost 7pm. She still looked a bit confused. I wished she hadn't, the last time to the vets a month ago she looked actually happy to be out. Toddled about the office visiting with people who put a hand out to greet her. She couldn't hear them as her hearing faded sometime ago, but hand gestures she knew.
Near the vehicle-they were hurrying now, and I, well, I was told I needn't go, and best I hadn't, though I wished no one needed to go. I watched them pull out of the driveway, and they were gone.
I turned and went into the house and sat on the sofa and stared at the TV. I don't know what was on, at best I spend my time watching the clock, imagining each step Angel and the girl's and their dad might be going through. Then I thought of tomorrow, and the emptiness, and cried little more.
They were gone longer than I thought. God knows I counted every minute. Then they returned, minus my younger daughter who drove to her boyfriends house.
My husband came through the door first-stood before me and said, Lil is like me, Tee is like you, and chuckled. I sensed more with him a relief of something that he found peace with. If he had any other emotion, I hadn't seen it.
Following him in was my oldest daughter, plump and pregnant dabbing her eyes. She's the strong one, so she'd like you to believe. She sat next to me on the sofa and raised my legs to lay over hers. This I know in recent months is her way of affection in the ways she misses being a little girl and laying curled up with me on the couch. Tee then began to tell the story of the vet visit, starting out saying, "it was good you didn't come, mom."
The wind whipped up this afternoon washing the warm of the blue sky away. Rain began to pelt down and I instinctively looked out the kitchen window for Angel, thinking of bringing her in.
All Angels blankets lay scattered here and there-one on the covered porch, one out on the lawn, and one in the laundry room. My thoughts are to wash them as I do so diligently in the past weeks since she's been losing her bladder control. But I know better of them.
I kept myself busy all day, having coffee with a friend and making a homemade beef stew, of which brings me comfort. It was later that without thought I carried a portion of stew in my bowl over to look for Angel. I found Lil doing the same later. I suppose our intentions are not without love, just like how I witnessed the girls when they fed Angel MC Donald's burgers out on the lawn in the back yard. Not without love.
With my legs lightly draped over Tees, and leaning gently along side her belly, I could feel the baby move as she talked.
"He was a wonderful vet, mom," she said. I was relieved to hear that as I merely picked a vet out of the phone book with hopes I found a compassionate one.
I move a little on the sofa to get comfortable. My back has been aching the last few hours, and I know what it is, I've drank too much coffee, my kidneys hurt.
Tee goes on to say all of them brought Angel into a room with the doctor, and he was gentle, spoke to Angel as if she could hear him, until my husband told him otherwise, she is almost deaf.The doctor didn't flinch however, he said he would talk to her no matter. He then took Angel gently into another room alone to check her over, promising to be back soon. And he was.
All of them sat on the floor with Angel. The doctor then asked of Angels life story and they all chimed in. He then announced the beginning of a sedative to calm Angel, and thus he administered, and left them to spend time with her until they were to knock on the door for him when they were ready.
Tee said right off, the medicine made Angel perk up, her ears even twitched, she said. And I wondered just fairy like if she was granted her hearing for only this one last occasion-to hear the girl's loving words. I would so wish upon it. If anything else. But now I would know for sure that Angel was indeed in pain, or had been, but for now she wasn't and there fore did something I haven't seen in awhile-I heard she twitched her ears.
Lil and Tee's dad knocks on the door. I imagine that had to have been difficult for him.Just as it was devestating when I had made the final appointment, fully knowing its end.
The doctor then came in and asked if they were ready? I presume they only nodded. Who could say the words out loud? And so Tee pulled Angel half over her lap and looked away when the doctor gave Angel the final needle. She said she felt Angel's body go slowly limp. I bet that very moment her heart broke along with her quiet sister and father. Myself, I watched the clock at home with the deepest of heart ache.
He rubbed her back as she cried, she said, of the doctor. She patted Angel long after, so did her dad. Angel's eyes were fixed, Tee said, and it upset her every time her dad would pat Angel where her eyes would slightly lift open. Tee could see the white, so, each time Tee would close Angels eyes for her.
He hugged both girl's and also cried, Tee said, of the doctor. It was an image I tried to fix in my mind, and wonder of all the tears a vet might shed. We were lucky to have him and his compassion, that's for sure.
He had thanked them for bringing Angel in, saying it various times when they were there, because, upon examination of Angel he found that she either had cancer or her kidneys were failing along with other organs. The doctor had said she probably wouldn't have survived one more night, ending in a painful death.
And while Tee had said to me that it was good that we put Angel down, I couldn't get out of my head, and still can't, the guilt in not taking her sooner.
Today, in the later morning, I wrapped all Angel's blankets up and placed them in a garbage bag. I threw out a large margarine container that held her food she didn't eat. And I simply went about things as if she didn't exist, or that I was trying to wipe clean. I suppose I had a desperate need to move on to save myself. I know it now in the hours of my writing-I need to grieve, then move on.
Things will get better-I know.
Here's to you Angel, forever love and abundant cheese burgers from MC Donald's hand fed to you by your girl's, who ironically named you,(Angel).
I wish you well and happy on your journey. May this post end with you and happier times. I love you to the moon and back.