Monday, June 18, 2012

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

From the cat who literally swallowed the canary (and then threw it up on your aunt's antique Persian rug) to the dog who ran away, we at the Stiletto Gang put our collective heads together and thought: what could be better than walking down memory lane with thoughts of some of our favorite--and not-so-favorite--pets? Join us for the next two weeks as we reminisce about the animals we loved and those who loved us.

By Evelyn David

Let me tell you a little about Snickers, the Irish terrier who made us dog owners. She was from a line of champions. That didn't matter to us. We had, however, deliberately chosen the breed because they were hypoallergenic. Put my husband around most dogs and his eyes swell shut and he develops a throbbing headache. So it's reasonable to ask, why did we get a dog in the first place? Our second son, then six, was deathly afraid of all animals, but especially dogs. We thought having a puppy would help him overcome his fear. (It worked.)

Neither my husband nor I had ever owned a dog before so our expectations were primarily based on watching years of Lassie episodes. I thought Snickers would follow me from room to room, come when called, rescue me if I fell down a well. Instead, we got a dog who clearly considered us her intellectual inferiors. Don't get me wrong. She was a sweet animal who, when I had a baby a few years later, was as gentle as a lamb around this new interloper who pulled ears and tail. She never so much as growled at us no matter what the provocataion, but there was always a certain distance, a sense of independence. She was the first to dash out any open door. We would chase after her and she would race ahead, stopping occasionally to look back to see if we were following. Once when we couldn't find her, having scoured the neighborhood calling her name, offering treats, we returned to find her sitting on our front porch, with a look of disdain that we hadn't been able to keep up with her. We incorporated a similar scene in our mystery ZONED FOR MURDER.

I realize just how independent Snickers was, now that we have Clio, another Irish terrier. Clio too is sweet, but to be honest not too bright. At 40 pounds Clio believes she is a lap dog. She is happiest when stretched across one of us, with her belly being scratched. Snickers just wasn't that kind of dog.

When Snickers was 13 years old, she had arthritis, was going deaf, and was slightly blind. Our vet, the kindly Dr. Thorndike told us, Snickers had outlived "most of her classmates." Still I was unprepared when one morning, Snickers had a stroke before my eyes. She lost control of her legs and bladder. I rushed her to the animal hospital and Dr. Thorndike gently told me that the time had come for us to be loving pet owners. He predicted that Snickers would have more strokes over the next few days and be increasingly in pain. We couldn't let that happen. We made arrangements to have her put to sleep the next day, after the kids said their goodbyes. It was a long and emotional night, but Snickers seemed comfortable and had regained limited use of her legs. She ate very little, slept nearly round the clock.

Despite her independence, Snickers was, from the day we met her, fiercely protective of her family. So she was that last morning. My husband took off time from work to go with me to the vets. I carried Snickers out to the driveway and put her down to open the car. She stretched out on the concrete for a moment until a sanitation man came to the back of the house to get our trashcans. I watched as Snickers drew herself up, on shaky legs, and then barked with a clear message, "This is my family. I'll protect them."

I reassured Snickers that all was fine – but she watched, growling softly, until the sanitation man had left the area. We lifted her into the car and she settled back down to sleep.

The selfless, devoted, protective, let me say noble character of Snickers taught me a lot about parenting. She loved without question, if on her own terms. She was the fierce defender of this family and asked nothing more than kindness, food, and shelter in return. We got so much more.

Dogs, like people, come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. But what they give to their families is the unconditional love that each of us needs. How lucky we were to have Snickers in our life.

Thanks old friend.

Zoned for Murder - Kindle (Exclusive at Amazon this month)
Trade Paperback

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle (Exclusive at Amazon this month)
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. What a wonderful tribute to Snickers. She sounds like a true Irishwoman: loyal, fierce, and protective. Maggie

  2. Snickers final act of protectiveness when the trash guys came around, got me teary-eyed.

    How blessed we are to have such special friends.

  3. Oh, this is definitely a tear jerker. Nothing so hard as saying goodbye to a well-loved pet. We've done it many times over the years. Good post.

  4. What a wonderful story. And what a terrific vet, compassionate and wise. We have several stories that end with 'when we got home, the dog was on the porch looking down at us!'

  5. Thanks Maggie, Laura, and Marilyn. Snickers really was a special dog. I'm also really grateful that she helped our son overcome his phobia.

    Thanks Gail, you're absolutely right. Dr. Thorndike was an exceptionally kind (and smart) vet -- who helped families get through painful times. Gentle, thorough, and smart with both animals and their families.

  6. I was in a happy mood until I read this. Definitely a tear-jerker. Loving an animal is special, but it hurts when they're gone.

    Morgan Mandel

  7. So sorry for your loss. Snickers sounds like an amazing dog. The rainbow bridge poem is one that has brought me comfort at times like these in the past so I thought I'd share it here.

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

    Author unknown...

  8. So sorry Morgan. I didn't mean to make anyone sad.

    How about a toast of dog treats to all the special animals in our lives!


  9. Thank you Anjali.

    That poem is a comfort to all animal lovers.


  10. Animals are so special. I still hold mine in my heart. Snickers was, indeed, special.

  11. Thanks Lil. I hope the sweet memories you have give you comfort. I still laugh when I think of some of Snickers' antics -- and patience with us!