A letter to my old dog just home from surgery

I thought this would be your eulogy. At one point I was almost sure of it. The doctor’s orders changed from “she needs surgery sooner rather than later” to “get her here for surgery right now” in a matter of 12 hours. Once we were there, the waiting was endless. Even when I left, you had to wait for hours – nervous, tired, and unsure of what was happening – because two sick dogs had gotten there for emergency surgery before you. I thought my little girl might go to the palace of squirrel chasing in the sky.

On the way back to work after dropping you off, I just couldn’t stop thinking about our history together. I wasn’t there when mommy rescued you from the overbreeder. Bred seven times with none of your babies in the last litter surviving, you needed a furever home and mommy was sure you were the right one. Despite an attempt to bite her, the constant growling, and the immediate pee and poop on her carpet, she wanted to make you feel at ease. I would soon join her in that mission.

It was the first time I saw you when I lifted up the blanket at the foot of the coffee table. You were a little skinny and clearly scared, not knowing you had hit the jackpot. Confused and nervous, you refused to move until mommy handed me the cheese. That cheese was the difference maker in our relationship. You ate it happily and gave me a look that said “things might just be alright here.” I became your eternal protector right at that moment.

After a bit longer, you removed yourself from under the blanket, sniffing around and cautiously saying “hi”. Over the next few days and with more cheese and some chicken, you’d begin to warm up to us. We understood – you were little and in a new home with big people and that could be terrifying, at least until you knew we were on your side.

As time went on, we learned how funny you were. When mommy moved back to Maine to live with me, you loved spending your days on the bed, peering outside at the tree that housed so many of the creature you most desired to catch. It was when your whole body started shaking that we knew you spotted one only feet away. It was on the other side of the window though, which was good, because the squirrels in that neighborhood were nearly bigger than you.

If you weren’t looking outside, you were sleeping. Always under a blanket, you were world class at creating a cocoon. I can’t decide if I liked it better when just your nose would stick out or when it was your nose and eyes still visible. It was particularly humorous when you got so excited to ride in the car and would instantly climb under a blanket to sleep once we got in there. What was all the excitement about, anyway?

You should know that mommy and I don’t always love the way you treat your younger brother. I suppose we shouldn’t shrug it off when you bite him just because he’s four times your size. We know you don’t want to play with him and you’re nervous that he might step on you, but you still shouldn’t bite. It’s amazing that he never gets angry at you.

It’s weird how you and your brother have such conflict indoors, but are a barking dog tag team in the back yard. You both love to bark at the neighbors dogs, the neighbors themselves, and if none of them are around, the air. The sound of you two lunatics acting like someone is attacking you can’t be winning your mother and me any fans in the neighborhood, but we love you enough to let you have your fun.

Speaking of fun…what is it about taunting your brother with your food while you stand next to your bowl that makes you so happy? The poor guy is an overeater, so please give him a break by eating your food and moving on. I’m confident that would be easier for everyone. And while I’m asking for stuff, please feel free to get all your pooping done outside instead of saving a bullet in the chamber for when we go out just to show us how much you don’t like it when we leave.

I can’t say I love your sleeping habits either. It’s bad enough that you sleep with us at all, but when you decide to lay horizontally, it’s really uncomfortable, particularly since you’re so long for your size. I know it’s not your fault you’re a sausage dog, but have a little courtesy in the bedroom, would ya? I have to work in the mornings to feed you. It’s the least you can do.

Despite your occasional bad behavior and total disdain for everyone and everything who’s not living in our house, as evidenced by your screams of “I hate you all” in dog-ese as we walk around the neighborhood, mama and I care for you more than anything. As our first-born doghter, you hold a special place in our hearts. When we were told that you’d be healthy after surgery, there was no chance we’d pass up the opportunity to keep you with us.

Kayla, we love every bit of your 13 years and 13 lbs. We’re so happy you’re home and we’re sorry we had to leave you in the hospital for two days. We promise it was only to make you better so we could have the sweetest, most loving, cutest, little old lady back with us to keep our family complete. Some day, you’ll probably leave us, but we’ll look back on these coming times as the “extra years”. It just wasn’t your time yet. Now get better and start barking needlessly again.

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife – Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start Peterpeterportlandeater.com where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.