The New Senior for February 2015: The Last PUP

The New Senior for Feb 1 2015


My young cousin, Tom Pulliam, came out today and I had him dig a grave for my Baby Blaze.

As long as she was still in the little coffin box on the front porch, she was still here with me. And I just had to wait to bury her. Here is why.


When my company finally left, I waited for a while and then I went out to put little Blaze in the hole and cover her up. Today is Sunday. It was an important day to bury her. Fifteen years after her birth.


It has been cold enough to store her body. When I finally looked, I gently lifted the lid and there she was.  It was like she was sleeping- on her side and just waiting for me to wake her up for a tickle or a love. I looked at her laying there for a few minutes and knew it was time to make the final move. I picked her up and laid her in the bottom of the hole. I glanced at her sister’s grave. She would be just a few feet away from her younger sister Bonnie and I made sure that they were both looking East to see the sun come up. I patted her for the last time and began to cover her up.


What had taken over a month to accomplish, took all of about fifteen more minutes after I started to shovel the pile of dirt back into her grave, being careful to say the right words and think the right thoughts about the little pup that I had birthed on January 24th, 2000 along with her seven brothers and sisters. She was the first girl born after three brothers and she was the tiniest of all of the pups and  stayed small through her fourteen years, ten months and twenty some days of life.


I remembered a lot about her brothers and sisters. It rushed into my head with every shovel full of the loose dirt. I thought about the day the litter of eight was born. I helped my little doggy mother deliver each of them. My thoughts were jumping around. I remembered the day I gave the first two pups away. I reluctantly sent them on their way with my boss who had pressured me to get them. Within a couple of weeks, they were both dead and I decided I would keep the rest until they died. I considered the fact that the mom and dad and six litter mates were going to part of my life until their lives were over.


The first pup to have a difficult time was Billy. He was only three and he developed a bladder stone that blocked his ureter and he had to have a serious operation with months of continued palliative care that evolved into diet and even to distilled water. But, the first to actually die was the gentle boy pup, Wally Pepper. He looked more like a Schnauzer than a Bichon cross and his grey and tan and white coloring showed him to have a perpetual smile. He took a swift turn for the worst in the late fall of his eighth year and within a couple of weeks he became weaker and weaker. It was the day after Christmas and he died in the night after I held him in my arms to comfort him in his last hours. (He had a liver that was half sized and a heart that was congested- more to do with the high calcium in our local water and the genetics that would take more of his family to follow.)


Within eleven months his dad died of congestive heart failure and his mother went three months after that. A year later his sister Beverly died the day after my mother Beverly’s birthday in the heat of July. The heart again. She was only ten and a half. Everything went along smoothly with the two boys and two remaining girls until we had to move to a new house after my mother died. I had to put Benny to sleep when I saw him going through the same painful breathing that his poor sister endured. It was only two years ago that Bonnie- the Black and white pup grew weaker and it was time to help her with a last trip to the vet’s. That left Blaze and, remarkably, Billy.


After I was through with the burdensome task of burying my sweet little dog, I went back inside and hugged the brother- the last pup, Billy. He turned fifteen yesterday and it seemed fitting that his sister wait for him to have that big birthday before she went away for good. Billy can no longer hear and with the help of the hearing Baby Blaze, he would use his good eyes to lead her around and she would use her good hearing to warn him and bring him in when they were called. Now Billy is the last of the Sunday Pups (the day they were born and fittingly, the day Blaze was laid to rest) and he has been quieter and only goes outside for a few minutes and he comes back in to lay down where the last two would sleep together for the few years they were alone together.


I realize that giving human attributes to a dog- to dogs- is not really acceptable, but, these little dogs have been part of my family and it is sad to see them die. They have been funny and loyal- even singing for a treat in a circle like baby wolves howling at the moon!, leaving me now with the last pup born, Billy, who is all alone after having such a big pack of dogs to interact with.


I am sitting by Old Billy and looking over, I see that he is sleeping- on his side, legs extended- like his little sister that we just buried. He is white and curly and gentle and loving. He looks like a bigger version of his father.


All of the pups looked just like the Bichon dad, Jean Luc. They were small, with curly hair and they did not shed, they liked to be clean so they loved to have a bath and even more, they loved to do a jailbreak- to break out of their kennel and race away from home in different directions like mad dogs escaping the pound. Each of them also slept in the same way-flat out, on their sides with their legs straight and ready to run! How they all have loved to run.


Through the years, neighbors, friends and family helped round them up and return them to home and instead of losing them to being runaways, each of them died with me, as they were born, with me helping their tiny mother, (a stray named Sprite that daddy Jean Luc loved when she was dragged home by my daughter), deliver them and me helping them in their last hours or making the decision to have them put down when the time came.


I have one pup left. He is this old guy who is as sweet as he ever has been and he makes for good company. I will go about my days with him and treasure his company for the good dog that he is and we will spend his last days together as human and pet thinking of those happier days when the whole family would run and play together in the Central Oregon sun, snow and seasons in between. What a great experience it has been for me to see them born into my home where they have always been loved from the day I first met them. God bless the dogs I’ve loved. They taught me how to be human.

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