Jennifer Lampson

April 7, 2005

We had to put my dog, lady, to sleep last night. I seem to be alternating between being numb and feeling caught in this black void where the pieces of my heart used to be connected. Right now I can barely move my fingers over the keyboard. I miss her so much. She was my lady.

A few weeks ago she started having trouble getting around. It was very sudden, so we thought she might have had a stroke. She would drag her front right paw behind her when she walked, and she lost a lot of her coordination. We have a single step at the front of our apartment, from the landing down to the sidewalk. She used to just fly over that thing, going up or down, like she was superdog. I can only remember her making it up it once on her own afterwards. We gave her a boost all the other times. She also couldn't seem to keep her feet under her on the kitchen floor.

When we took her to the vet the first time I was terrified the doctor was going to tell us the worst news and that we wouldn't be leaving with her. But we did, with medicine: antibiotics, because she was dehydrated (a few years ago my dad had taken her to the vet for a kidney infection; the doctor thought that might be occurring again because she was drinking so much yet unable to retain any fluid, the kidneys' job); a pack of saline to inject beneath the skin a few times a week and give her some of the fluids she needed; and aspirin, to thin her blood in case the coordination problems were caused by a blood clot. Her right pupil was very large, which could signify a clot, or a brain tumor. She asked us if she was walking in circles, which would signify the latter, but she wasn't then.

We tried for a few weeks. She took the saline injections without a peep; my uncle Dave used to have a diabetic dog, so he did that for us so we wouldn't have to take her to the vet twice a week. I could only be there for her once, and it was kind of funny picking her up afterwards, because she'd be filled up with liquid on one side from lying down and she'd be all sloshy and even more unbalanced than before. But, you know, it didn't work. The last couple days we had her everything just took a turn for the worse. She drank so much water even though she had all that fluid in her, so her kidneys were failing her. She did start to walk in circles. She could barely stand up in the grass outside and I'd have to just pick her up and carry her back inside when she was done because she would get disoriented on her way back up the sidewalk. We couldn't leave her alone because she kept falling down, and I'd hear her crying and have to run to pick her up and set her right. It freaked her out so badly. My mom and I didn't sleep well the last two nights, because she kept crying and pacing, and it would be a while of trying to make her comfortable in various ways before she'd be able to settle down. She had a hard time just standing up. She was walking in circles. She was depressed. There wasn't much of a decision to make. Though I still needed a few hours with her before I could, anyway. I had to go through all this stuff in my mind and convince myself a hundred times over.

We spent a long time saying goodbye. I'm not going to go into details, because i can't. Suffice to say there was a lot of licking going on. She loved my hands. She would make sure she got every inch of them. At the vet, I kissed her face and told her to give me kisses, and she turned her head and licked my face. The doctor said, "if she could have gotten better, she would have, because there's certainly enough love."

When we first got her I was twelve and she was about 4 or 5. She was so skinny, like, malnourished skinny, and she'd just had her shots. She got sick, we were snowed in in the middle of winter in Pennsylvania, and our power was out for a week, so, no heat. We'd put her in those silly little doggie sweaters to take her outside, and while the power was out, inside as well. I would sleep in front of the fire with her to keep her warm. She slept with me a lot when we first got her. my dad told me how he found us both once with my leg, all tangled up in blankets, slung over her to her neck, and her head just peeking out forlornly at him. After a while she started to sleep on my parents' bed (I imagine she wasn't too keen on my kicking habit). It's a king-size and I think she only ever made it up there on her own a miraculous few times. So she'd jump up with her front paws and whoever was on the bed would reach down and push up on her behind. Her favorite blanket, though, was always my favorite blanket, the green comforter with little white boxes. I take that thing with me anywhere that I'm going to be sleeping. I don't like to sleep beneath sheets or anything, just that blanket, and it's lumpy in some spots and threadbare in others, but it's always warm. Whenever any part of that blanket would touch the ground, she'd curl right up on it and go to sleep. I cover up with it at the computer, and I'd always kick out a corner for her. While we were moving things around after my dad left, the computer spent some time on the dining room table and my mom was making frequent trips to visit my uncle John in Arizona. it was just the two of us and she would lay on my feet under the table. I loved having my foot under her chest because I could feel her heartbeat. I remember once she rested her head on my foot and the fabric was thin enough that I could feel her throat. I wrote a lot then and I called her my muse.

She wasn't very big on toys, so her favorite playtime activity was to chase after your hand while you ran it back and forth in front of her. When she got it she'd clamp down with her teeth and growl a little, but it didn't hurt.

When we lived in Pennsylvania we had the loveseat in front of a big window in the dining room, and she had her own little spot on the back of it where she would sleep or watch the goings-on outside and bark at any passers-by. She was very protective of us and her turf.

Lady had very bad cataracts when she got older, and I'm sure this was because she had no respect for the sun. Sometimes she'd make us take her outside and then not do a damn thing except stare up at the sky with her nose wriggling in the breeze.

When she was happy (or when she'd just had a really good poop), she would run through every room of the house, so fast you couldn't see her legs moving. She'd just rip across the carpet. We'd clap along with her pace to keep her going. Zoomer!dog.

She had the most ridiculous and ridiculously cute tufts of hair springing out from behind her ears. I'd smooth them back but as soon as she'd stick up her ears, there they'd be. I would wrap my hands around her ears sometimes, because we like to keep our house cool and I always worried that her ears were too cold.

She loved French fries. I mean, she loved them a lot. You failed to exist when there were fries in the room. She'd take your finger off if you weren't careful.

I loved to pick her up and kiss the side of her face and her neck. Her fur was so soft right there. If I kissed too long she would growl, and when I'd let up she'd kiss me back. I could always ask her to give me kisses and she would.

She was my best friend. It hurts to walk through this house and not have to watch my steps for her. I keep thinking I hear her. I keep expecting her to walk around the corner to check up on me. I don't like living without her. I just hope she's chasing after people's ankles in heaven and I'll get to see her again.

Lady's Stone