Tuesday, June 18, 2013

All Dogs Go To Heaven

All dogs go to heaven. At least, according to the movies. Regardless of your theological / spiritual bent, if you've ever had a pet that truly understood you, who was there for you every time you felt sick or down, and who was a faithful companion, then like me, you have to believe it's true. 

Last week, without warning, one of our Maltese puppies, Gabriel, stopped eating. He stopped playing. He stopped drinking. I gave it a day to see if it was just his stomach that was off - perhaps he ate a bug or got into something out in the yard, but when he wasn't any better the next day I made an appointment at the vet. 

By the time I got home from work to take him he was jaundiced. A few hours after we left him in the vet's care, he called me to tell me that Gabe was suffering from hemolytic anemia. For some reason Gabe's own immune system was attacking and destroying his red blood cells, and he barely had enough oxygen carrying capacity to stay alive. They gave him IV fluids and a product called oxyhemoglobin, and put him in a little oxygen incubator, but within 24 hours, he was gone. 

Gone. Just like that. 

At the time I was dealing with a terrible virus myself. I had a fever of nearly 103 when I received the call that he had passed away. I came undone. To say that I was emotionally unprepared for his loss is a huge understatement. He was only 5 years old. 

All loss is painful, but deep loss of dear friends with whom we felt a special connection is especially difficult. I know it sounds silly to some people. I used to be one of them. I used to make fun of people who gave their cats prozac and put their dogs through chemotherapy. I used to laugh at little dogs that were put in sweaters and made to wear ridiculous Halloween costumes...until one year I made Gabe wear a bumblebee outfit. 

Our judgements always have a way of turning around and biting us, don't they? 

No pun intended.

Gabe was the gentlest dog I'd ever met. His "spirit" (if you believe a dog has such a thing) was intuitive and wise. When you looked into his eyes, it was like he knew things, and he wanted you to know that he knew. I don't know how else to describe it, but not all dogs are like that.

We have another Maltese still at home. Gunner. He's smaller and younger than Gabe, weighing in at about 8 pounds. Gunner is adorable. He literally looks like a tiny white stuffed animal come alive. 

He's playful and pouncy and he will sit anywhere as long as someone is touching and petting him. He and Gabe had very different personalities, and that's ok. Gunner is ultra cute and fun and thinks he's ten feet tall. Gabe barked a lot but wouldn't hurt a fly. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. It's what makes us fall in love with each other. 

We loved Gabriel with all our hearts, and he will be forever missed. 

Rest in peace, angel...We'll see you there...