Friday, February 07, 2014

A Sad Ending to a Sweet Dog Story

This is a story of a girl (my girl) who picked a Shih Tzu puppy out of a small litter 14 years ago.  The girl picked the puppy and picked his name, too.  She called him "Domino" because he was black and white just like . . . . a domino.  What else?  She couldn't resist the puppy who actually selected HER by walking right up to her and making himself comfy in her lap, slathering her with happy puppy kisses.

He was born on February 2, 2000 and he immediately became her closest friend.  He was a tiny puppy who looked at her with adoring big brown eyes and used to ride around on her outstretched arm like a stuffed animal.  They adored one another. 

Unlike many puppies, he was easily house trained and destroyed very few items around the house.  Even in his teething days, he was a model puppy, chewing on his own toys and leaving our shoes, our furniture and OUR toys alone. His favorite toy was an Alf stuffed animal that we picked up from a thrift store.  He loved to play "tug of war" with that Alf and would be very protective of the doll if you teased him by pretending to take off with it.  It was a running game to find his Alf and get it back. 

Domino grew into a loving, quiet dog.  He barked so seldom, in fact, that when he was just 8 months old, we took a fall weekend trip to the Lake of the Ozarks where we rented a cabin.  When we were ready to go, the puppy had disappeared and couldn't be found anywhere.  We knew he was on the leash, but he'd slipped away while we were busy loading the car and we couldn't find him anywhere.  We searched, we called for him, and even searched down at the lakefront, worried he'd gone into the water and drowned, but couldn't find him and all of us were worried sick.  Then, just as we were at our wit's end, our daughter spotted his black and white fluffy tail wagging at the vacant cabin porch next door.  His tiny black and white body was surrounded in autumn leaves where he'd gone to play, but only his tail was visible.  His leash had gotten tangled and stuck on a piece of wood on the porch so she'd been unable to respond when we called.   My daughter spotted him and we all shouted with relief.  Our little dog was safe and back in her arms for the ride home!

During the years as my daughter grew up, the dog grew too, and they both grew to love one another more and more with each year that passed. As a child, he was her constant companion, her closet Confidante when she was lonely, sad, happy, playful  . . . . . whatever her mood or activity, he shared in it.  She often said that since she was an only child, Domino was like a little brother she never had.  They were inseparable! 

All her friends that came over to the house also played with Domino and nearly everyone loved him, because he unconditionally liked and welcomed everyone into our home.  Even those who didn't normally like animals seemed to take a liking to our dog.

When Emily was about 10 or 11, she had just a little spending money from her allowance, but she made a point of buying Domino a dog bed so he could lay close by the fire which he LOVED to do.  Since his hair was often kept short and easy to style, he wore dog sweaters during every fall and winter.  He loved to snuggle by the fire in his bed or be close to family members, following us from room to room around the house.

As Emily got older, and Domino did too, he always looked for her, waited for her to come home from school . . . . then later from work . . . . . from outings with her friends . . . . . from wherever she'd been, he settled right at home with her again and so happy to have her back.

He adored food, and his one bad doggy habit was begging for tablescraps, which we sometimes gave in and gave him some. 

Domino thoroughly enjoyed looking good and getting groomed.  He was a dream at the groomers and the he always put up with whatever it took to come home looking spiffy and cute in his latest dog scarf and enjoyed an oatmeal bath that they gave him.  He KNEW when he looked good and would often prance and run around the house with delight when he came home.

He loved car rides  . . . . and vacations with the family.  So we often took vacations based on hotels, cabins and motels that allowed dogs so we could bring our favorite member of the family.  He really got a kick out of going along for the ride.  At hotels, just like at home, Domino was the PERFECT hotel guest.  He never soiled the carpet and allowed us to tuck him into our arm and take him along wherever dogs were allowed.

As his gotten older recently, he's suffered from arthritis, his eyes were growing a bit dim and his hearing failing, but his sweet little self just kept right on going.  He'd struggle to get up and down the stairs, but he always climbed into bed with us at night or sat close to use in the livingroom, or climbed into the lap of whoever most needed cheering up.  The dog had a sense of who needed love the most and always gave of himself and his never-ending affection.

So it was with great sadness that yesterday, right at noon, with my husband sitting in the livingroom with him, Domino stood up, walked over to Bob, then collapsed at his feet and died, letting out just a faint sigh as he fell.  He passed as peacefully and as quickly as anyone could . . . . but he was definitely gone, just 4 days after turning 14. 

We are saddened, but grateful that this dear little dog shared our lives all these years.  We will miss you, Dom.  We sure will.