Lessons Learned from a Pet

Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers
Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers

SOL #17

All my life I’ve been known as a “dog” person.  I grew up with dogs – in total I’ve had 6 of them in my life.  In a way, they remind me of relationships I’ve had over the years with humans. Three of the dogs we had were long term.  The other three were failed attempts at replacing those that could not be replaced.

Duffy, Marnie and Ben; these three grew up with me.  Duffy, a faithful little beagel, was more my dad’s dog than anyone elses.  He was that one you knew through the acquaintance of others….a friend of a friend.  He used to sit outside, under our willow tree, at my dad’s feet.  A funny sight, the two of them.  My dad standing at 6 foot 11.  Duffy at a mere 1 foot tall.  Opposites do attract!

Ben, a rescue dog, was “found” by my mom at a shelter and to my mom he was most loyal.  Makes sense, I guess.  Ben was a shepard/lab mix who was deathly afraid of thunderstorms.  He’d start eating the blinds at the slightest hint of rain.  He also ran away alot.  Once a runner – always a runner!  My most vivid memory of him was the day we had to put him down.  I had to leave work to meet my mom at the vet.  I drove behind she and Ben and I can still see the back of both of their heads as they took their last drive together.  Ben loved riding in the car.

Marnie, the dog in the middle of my life, was my best friend.  She was my steady; there for my first day of kindergarten AND college.  Marnie had puppies when I was 17.  My sister and I took her in the car, not long after that, to pick up my mom from work.  I think there is such a thing as post-partum for animals, because Marnie was not herself.  She jumped out of the window and got hit by an oncoming car.  My sister and I were momentarily frozen.  What would we do?  Did we have 6 three-week old orphan puppies back home?  They were still nursing!  We couldn’t replace that!  So, we scooped Marnie up in our arms, put her back in our car and drove her to the animal ER.  That’s what you do – you save your best friend’s life, if you can.

Then, one day, there was a knock on my door.  It was my sister and she was holding a curious, furry little animal.  This “dog person” was about to get a cat.  I never, in a million years thought this would happen.  But, it did.  Sam became my new pet.  He was a cute orange tabby. He layed on my chest, came to me when I called his name, and actually got excited when I came home from work….just like a dog!  We spent 10 years together until it was time, again, to put another one of my pet’s down.  Sam was getting old.  He developed high blood pressure and lost most of his eye sight.  It was heartbreaking to watch him try to jump up on the couch…and miss.  I had to take him a specialized vet for his vision.  They put a miniature cuff on his paw to take his blood pressure.  I had to buy him the same pills my mom took.  It was getting weird.  One day I woke up and decided to put him out of his misery.

This was the first time I’d ever stayed with a pet during euthenasia.  I’m glad I did. It’s something I will never forget.  Sam loved his vet and was OK with being there.  I held him while the Dr. gently injected the solution that would make Sam sleep forever.  At that moment I realized, “yes, I am a cat person”.

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11 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from a Pet

  1. I could have written this myself! In fact I have a tribute to mine in my notebook. My heart was shattered when I read about marnie. And I love the contrast of Duffy and your dad. Just enough about each to make your reader feel your connections. Even to the cat. Lol.

  2. Carrie, your piece tugs at my heart. The line, “The other three were failed attempts at replacing those that could not be replaced.” hits home with me. I have not been able to replace my beloved dog Indy, and I don’t think he’ll ever be replaced. Your brief story of each pet gives great description & flow, helping me the reader connect to you. Your ending is perfect, that realization.

  3. Your memories of your companions really connected with me. The snippets gave me a glimpse at the love they brought into your home. There is something so comforting in the love of a pet. I was going to say a furry companion – then I thought some birds are great companions. Thank you for sharing this snapshot in time a very memorable slice.

  4. I’m there with you. I chuckled, I saddened, I remembered. Wonderful stories. I think it’s time I write it, too. Thanks for the memories.

  5. I’m not a pet person, but I still felt really emotional with this piece. Your writing did that to me. 🙂
    The image of your mom and Ben driving in the car is heartbreaking.

  6. I started as a cat person and, after adding a husband to my life, became a dog person. I have a feeling that some day I will be a cat person again. I guess I’m a pet person. Loved your story.

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