We had a dog growing up. "Smokey". He was my sisters dog. He stayed in the kitchen on his mat. He really wasn't a dog you interacted except to take for a walk. He didn't play fetch or anything, just laid on his mat. Then, one day, my mom sat me on the couch (I was in seventh grade I think) and told me that he passed away. Not long after (or right before as my memory is a bit cloudy) my mom sat me on said couch to tell me that my Godfather, my favorite uncle was in a horrific accident and was in a coma. I told her, I'm not sitting on the couch ever again if she asks, it's always bad new. FYI, my uncle is okay. He's still my favorite too.
But, I digress. As an adult, I've had a dog, a puppy here or there that we ended up having to give up for adoption for different situations. My one dog, sunshine, who I loved more than anything ran away and broke my heart. I looked forever for her. But, I've never had a dog till death do us part.
I had been wanting a dog for years. That's what you do when you have kids, you get a dog. Not a cat. A dog. I don't like cats. While they're beautiful, they're sneaky and jump up on things. No thank you. Dogs only. Five years ago I looked at different rescue organizations. And, after a while, I found Legacy Boxer Rescue. See, George and I know our limitations. Raising kids takes a ton of patience which I don't exactly possess in spades. So, training a puppy was out of the question. We went to the local petsmart where LBR was going to be that day and there was this dog, Liddy in one of the cages. Liddy had part of her lip tucked in her teeth. I thought she had a jaw problem and fell in love with her on the spot. Who else is gonna want a not perfect dog? Turns out, her jaw was fine. That look, which we dubbed her Elvis, was just something she liked to do. After the application and home visit process, Liddy was ours. We didn't like the name. I wanted the new name to be something close so she would recognize it so we came up with Lizzie. Short for Elizabeth. St. Elizabeth to be exact. It just worked out that way.
Lizzie was abused by a breeder. We found out later that the parents (I think one was the breeder) threatened the kids if they didn't get good grades the dog would go, and go she did. She just had a litter right before we got her. We're almost positive that the abuser was a woman. I say this b/c Lizzie has never really taken to me. Well, the best she can. She constantly give George and the kids kisses. Me, maybe twice a year, if I'm lucky. But, right after we got her and she got into the Halloween chocolate, it was me she wanted. She tried to put her whole 50lb (at the time she was 50lb) body into my lap. She knows that I'm her mama. She would always thump her tail. A true boxer has their tail docked. Not her. She has it all. She's always happy. Even when I would come in the room. So, kisses aside, I know she at least liked me.
Lizzie will be nine in June. Sadly, my Lizzie won't make it. It is doubtful that she'll make the weekend. See, in January, she started getting sick. And, of course we took her to the doctors. When I called to check on her, I was at a loss to say who I was. I was more than just her owner. No, I was and am, her mama. We've made weekly visits to the doctors. They're amazing. So compassionate. They never fail to tell me how wonderful Lizzie the wonderdog is. How she's such a sweet girl. My girl is sporting two lumps, one on her face and the other on her chest. We're awaiting the results, but the doctor is positive at least one is a tumor. She no longer can walk. She hobbles and hops. She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. She can't put her back right leg down. She can't get up on her own. When she goes outside to take care of business, she looks behind her now, a few times, to make sure I am there. Usually, when she would finish she would run across the yard and into the house, sometimes skidding. It was so cute to see. Now, she hobbles...slowly. She tries to go a little fast, but she realizes that she's different, that something is wrong. So she sleeps most of the day. All the anti-inflammatory and pain pills and antibiotics aren't working. She's not getting any better.
I've been praying to St. Francis and St. Maximilian Kobe as well as Jesus and Mary. But my heart is still breaking as is my husbands, (who is my consummate rock) and the kids hearts. Lizzie the wonderdogMema, just this past July. It doesn't matter whether it's a person or an animal. Hurt is hurt and grief is grief and death sucks the big one. Yes, I know she'll be out of pain. Yes, I'll know she'll be in a better place. But me, and my family...we'll still be here, mourning her loss, always loving, and always missing her.
I know it's silly, but this past week, one of the things that brought me a smile was a rather open debate on animals and souls and heaven.
All I can tell you is that it made me smile. I don't know if dogs go to heaven. Fr. Tim has the answer. I remember years ago, he said the answer in his homily. And, the truth is, if the answer is "no", I really don't want to know. I'm choosing to believe, that when I eventually pass away (probably from a broken heart), that Lizzie will be there, thumping her tail, excited to see me, and give me lots of kisses. Until then, I just hope she knows how very much and how very deeply her mama loves her. That while she is not my child, she is not just a dog either. "What then, is she?" you ask. She is mine.
Until next time,
love each other.