I always try to use my blog as a way to find the silver linings in the clouds of life. I always try to look on the bright side. But there are times when I feel like no matter how deep I look, I can’t seem to find the bright side. Sometimes, you can put all of your effort, all of your focus, all of your resources, and all of your heart into something, and it might still fall apart… that’s just the way life goes.
Two years ago, right at Christmas, I wrote a post about my son’s beloved Boxer, Max, and how I seemed to have jinxed him with my sarcastic outburst. He’s been dead for nearly two years, and still my son reminds me that he’s lost his dog, and even though we live in a zoo with four dogs and two cats and some turtles and some fish and a few birds and a rabbit, life just wasn’t the same for Dylan without his dog.
We bred Max once, with our friend’s Boxer, and from the litter of puppies a few of them went to people we know well. My dad got Lucy and a friend of ours got Cujo. Despite efforts to have baby Boxers, Lucy has never gotten pregnant, but a few months ago, I heard amazing news that Cujo was going to be a dad. Ok, so you’re a little lost in the puppy-soap-opera going on here, but basically, Max would be the grandpa of these little puppies, and so I knew, I had to have one!
Only four puppies were born, and when I first called, they were all spoken for, but as luck would have it, someone backed out, and low and behold, I made plans to bring a puppy home. One day, I surprised my son with the cutest puppy I had ever seen…
It wasn’t long before she became the most spoiled member of the household. I was so in love with this precious little creature- not just because she was an adorable little pup, but also because she was a symbol of so many things. She came from the dog Dylan loved so much, and he is the proverbial middle child. He always thinks that somehow I love him less. And when we adopted four more children, he really started to feel lost in the mix.
My son is sweet and patient, and kind-hearted, but sometimes he’s also angry because I placed upon our family what sometimes seems to be a burden. I know it’s a blessing to have so many children, and I feel lucky to be a part of each of their lives, but I know in the mind of a child, sometimes they see the things we can’t afford or the struggles we go through, and they want to blame the other kids, and it’s hard to navigate those waters. I think blending families together is one of life’s greatest challenges, whether it be through re-marriage or adoption, kids face so many emotions they just aren’t equiped to deal with, and somehow I thought this puppy would help me bridge the gap that has grown between me and my first-born-son.
I guess as fate would have it, there was another twist in store for us. There were several puppies in our neighborhood, and they all got sick. Four of them died from this strange illness, so I knew it was nothing to scoff at. The first signs that Maxi wasn’t feeling well, I took her straight to the vet. I nursed her through the night, giving her shots every few hours, feeding her pedialyte through a syringe. She seemed to get better, then she took a turn for the worse. I rushed her back to the vet. I put her in the hospital. She stayed in puppy ICU for 4 days. On the third day, my son wanted to see her.
We went to the vet, and her little face perked up when she saw him. She even got up so Dylan could pet her. Even though the vet warned me that she was very fragile, I felt a spark of hope brewing.
I know my son knows how much I love him, and I know he knows I did everything I could to save his little dog, including tapping out resources I didn’t even have, but when I got the call that she passed away, I could barely breathe.
I know, it’s a dog. Dogs sometimes die. It’s life. But for some reason, this dog dying broke my heart. I think maybe because I was trying so hard to make a new bond with my son and this dog and me… and maybe I just don’t get it… I mean I have a lab who is 14 years old, I’m not sure she ever had her puppy shots because we were young and poor when Blondie insisted we keep the runt of a litter of little labs. She’s only been to the vet for her rabies shots. Then there’s Blondie’s little dog, who has been hit by a car, bitten by a copperhead, shot, and then severely injured again a week later and had her leg amputated. That little dog takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’… so I sit here wondering why we couldn’t keep our little Maxie in the zoo for just as many years as her grandpa was here? I know, it’s not the worst thing we’ve been through, but I haven’t found the silver lining in this one.