"A dog is the only thing that can mend a crack in your broken heart"---Judy Desmond
Every morning and every day at lunch time my heart breaks a little. As I walk away and close the door I have two sets of adoring eyes, staring at me, confused. "Where is she going?" "When will she be back?" "Why can't we go?" I imagine them thinking that...and it tugs at my heart. I want so badly to stay.
Freckles & Patch at the ranch
As a child I'd never had pets (gerbils & fish don't count). When I became an adult I had Sara to keep me company and, when asked if I had pets, would always say "That's all I need...another dependent who doesn't do chores". Sara would always roll her eyes when I said that but she knew it was true.
It was Sara who convinced (guilted) me into getting a dog. I could be wrong...but a part of me thinks that Sara knew, during her last eight months, that she didn't have a long life ahead of her. All the previous treatments had failed and she was on an experimental treatment that really took it's toll on her.
In September 2006 Sara asked for a dog. All I could think of was the added work. I was already working, taking care of Sara, spending countless hours at doctors appointments with her, and days on end in the hospital. I told Sara it wouldn't be fair to bring a dog into the home when we didn't have the time to devote to it. "Maybe", I said "when you've finished this treatment...after the first of the year." Tears welled up in her eyes and she said (ready for the guilt) "Fine, I'll just never have a dog!" (She would have been right too. We had no idea she would not make to the next year) I broke down...we started looking for a dog and I began arranging pet sitters for our next few hospital stays.
We had done some research and decided on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which were sometimes called the "Comforter Spaniel". How perfect! Sara was so excited. I wanted to go the responsible route, research reputable breeders, see the parents firsthand, question the breeder on the dogs health. Sara just wanted one FAST. She did as I asked, though, and called breeders in our area...no puppies for at least 4 months. One night, at the end of October, Sara met me at the door after work and said "Let's drive to Jacksonville. The pet store in the mall has two Cavaliers." I went through my whole "pet store dogs come from puppy mills and we don't want to support that" routine. It fell on deaf ears and all I got was "Please mom, can we just go look?" Again, I broke down...and I'm so glad I did.
Sara holding tiny Freckles
Sara doted on Freckles and worried about her all the time. She was very frail and had kennel cough we discovered on our first vet visit. The pet store offered to treat her or take her back. We opted for treating her...there was no way we were giving her back now. A few weeks later, while we were in the hospital, we saw on the news a consumer report on the store we bought Freckles from. They reported that the puppies all came from puppy mills in the Midwest, most had been under investigation, and many of the puppies became sick and died, causing heartbreak to their new owners. Sara burst into tears..."Freckles isn't going to die, is she?" (This, coming from a girl who was in the hospital to have a lung removed due to cancer. She was amazing.) "No, she isn't going to die" I said, praying I was right...
Freckles pulled through. She and Sara would have three more weeks together before Sara lost her battle with cancer. Those last weeks were so hard on Sara but having Freckles, always by her side, made it a little easier. When Sara passed away she was in ICU at Wolfsons Children's Hospital. A friend was watching Freckles. I remember the heartbreak I felt when we brought Freckles back home and she kept wandering around the house. We assumed she was looking for Sara. That night I did something I swore I'd never do...I took Freckles out of the crate in my bedroom and put her in bed with me. It was such a comfort to both of us...she's been there ever since.
Freckles and I became inseparable. I continued to work part-time for a year after Sara passed away and it gave us lots of time together. She needed me and I needed that. I had devoted the last 19 years of my life to taking care of Sara...I needed time to adjust. When I finally decided to return to work full time I worried about Freckles being alone. I decided to take her to "doggie daycare" a couple of days a week so she could get out, play and socialize with other dogs. I loved going to pick her up and watching her outside playing with the other dogs...she looked so happy. I wanted her to be happy like that all the time......so........I bought her a pet. :)
Spoiled Patch learning to beg early
I look back over the last six years and I can't imagine what my life would have been like without them. I've had so many things happen, both good and bad, and they are always there to make me smile, comfort me and to give me a reason to be excited about returning home. I can't wait for the day we all move out to the ranch. One of the first things I plan on doing is getting another dog. Freckles is 6 now and has had Mitral Valve disease (a heart defect common in Cavaliers) since she was 2. Most don't get it until they are older but indiscriminate breeding can make it appear sooner. The vet said as long as she stays fit she could go years without a problem. I want to get a third dog so that if something were to happen to either of them the other won't be left alone. From the sound of things you would assume it would be Freckles...but Patch...bless his heart, while pretty, does not have a lot going on upstairs. He'd be the first one to try to "kiss" a rattlesnake or "play" with coyotes. (I laugh as I write that.) The big doofus!
Over the last six years I have discovered these two "dependents that don't do chores" are so much more.
I love you babies!!!!
Freckles, where she belongs, on the bed.