Monday, November 28, 2016

When The Kids Are Safely Married....Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I opened with that old joke about a priest, a minister and a rabbi. The punchline was, "when the kids are safely married and the dog dies."

Funny thing about that joke...

When I wrote that opening, Peri had already begun the process of leaving us. She'd been ill for several months, and nothing we tried seemed to have any impact. Never a strong dog, those who knew her best, including me, felt sending her for invasive tests would be incredibly stressful for this timid, shy, and very neurotic pup.

Let me explain about my dog. 

In early December 2008, while on my annual jaunt to see the folks in Florida, Ziggy called to say Shayni, our 12 year old Canaan was throwing up blood. FIL, our live-in vet, said, "pancreatitis," and hit the nail on the head. Into the hospital she went. She was doing really well and seemed to be coming outta the woods...and then she was gone. We were devastated. 

For about a week, we thought "no more dogs, until we saw how FIL was lost without his buddy.  He was hinting he wanted another Canaani, and we set out to find a rescue/re-home. We'd just about given up when Shayni's breeder reached out to us. She had a gorgeous but very passive/timid year-and-a-half year old that could no longer stay with the other dogs, and unless she was re-homed to someone who knew the breed, AND could deal with a very neurotic pup, she would have to be put down. Bag o'smelly socks was sent to Illinois post-haste, Praline Sundae was spayed, and when she was healed up enough to travel, Ziggy and Junior Son went to get her. 

What we didn't know was that the cancer was already attacking Ziggy's organs and this would be the last hurrah. But from all indications, Peri already knew; we would learn Canaani are sometimes used as cancer-sniffers. When he needed to be comforted by his dog, she was hiding in the laundry room. 

After Ziggy had the poor form to leave us, my father-in-law began coaxing her out of hiding, as much for his good as for hers. It took months and a whole lotta cheese, but a bond was eventually formed. Amazingly she bonded with the kids' puppy Bialy. And she learned to slowly warm up to people. She would never be exuberant or tail-wagging friendly; she was timid, passive, and scared of her own shadow. She hated to be walked; I always called it taking her for a drag. She wouldn't poop if anyone was looking, and she pulled all the way home if another dog was in sight.  She was who she was, she who would never be a "normal" dog. We all loved her for who she was, accepted her for who she was, and let her be who she was. 

Peri was with us less then a fortnight when Ziggy's cancer was found. She became the touchstone for my father-in-law as he watched his son succumb to the disease. She became the focus of our household as FIL and I began to navigate our new reality. Peri became the reason I had to get out of bed in the morning. 

As FIL grew weaker over his own last few months, Peri spent more and more time just sitting with him on the sun porch. For days after Grandpa Sieg left us, I often found her just standing the middle of the living room where his hospital bed had been. She began spending more time on the floor next to me instead of on her bed in the corner.

I know the decision to move was a tough one for my girl who did not like change. She liked the little balcony outside my kitchen, and she seemed to finally be adjusting...when she stopped. There were changes and they weren't good. 

We treated what presented as irritable bowel disease, but the treatment didn't really do much. We tried other protocols, and did a long line of non-invasive tests, including extensive ultrasound on her stomach. They saw a mass. There were long conversations with vets, her breeder, and other knowledgeable folks, and no one wanted to start doing invasive tests on this tender, fragile flower of a dog. The fear was that the fear would be unbearable for her, and tantamount to cruelty. Like Ziggy, we let her have her own timetable. She guided us along as she continued to lose weight; she was disappearing before our eyes. 

The dog that arrived at the beginning of the Seven Years of Loss stayed with me until a few days before I will close on the old house. She was there when I lost Ziggy, FIL, my Dad, my Mom, and when I left the House That We Built. In so many ways, Peri became the bookends. She knew her job was done, and I could stand on my own two feet. 

Yes, there is cheese involved.

The Junior Son was with me as I held her close on that last morning. We told her we loved her, and we told her to go find Grandpa Sieg; surely he has cheese in his pocket for her. 

Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Don't complain about the recount.
If nothing else, it will put speculation to rest. 


  1. Sniff. Who's cutting the onions around here?

    1. Junior Son and I talked about how you went with me for Asta, the Wonder Springer. That was not forgotten, deer.