It's been blue around our house the past week. We had to put down our 14-year-old dog who had cancer and a whole host of other maladies.
So, I've been reflecting...
Cheeba had been with my husband and me for about five years. He was my brother's dog since he was a puppy and when Denis moved overseas, he became our dog.
He was an adorable mix of lab and beagle (I know what you're thinking and I'm guessing it was an extremely ambitious beagle and a very docile lab). When he first came to live with us, life was good for ol' Cheeba. He was the apple of our eye and there was no want for doggie treats, cuddles, walks, etc. He was our baby.
A year later, Marley came along. And, as is a common story for canine pets when a baby enters the picture, Cheeba quickly became...a dog. I'm not talking Lady and the Tramp-style neglect, but things did change.
Although I don't think he ever got over being displaced by that loud, wrinkly little thing wrapped in a blanket (or being further displaced when the second wrinkly thing in a blanket came along), he did find a happy little spot in our family.
Most of the time, Cheeba would find places in the house AWAY from the kids. This is usually how the scenario would play out: Cheeba in playroom, kids enter playroom, Cheeba exits playroom and runs downstairs. I don't know how many times I would watch him scurry off to sleep in some dark, quiet nook and wistfully think, "Lucky fucker."
Then, there would be those sweet moments that are forever etched in my mind. Cheebs was half hound dog and you would be reminded of this every time you walked him. He would pull and sniff as if nothing else in the world mattered except that neighbor's dog's piss on the ground from two days ago. When I say he pulled on that leash, I'm talking about being dragged behind him like a rag doll anytime we went outside.
As Marley got older, she would ask to walk him. Knowing his penchant for forcibly hauling us around the neighborhood, we were reluctant to let our preschooler take the reigns. We eventually caved, though, and were shocked by the results. Anytime Marley would hold Cheeba's leash, he instinctively knew not to pull. The two of them would walk along looking like something out of one of those kid-and-animal-are-best-friends Disney movies. Travis and I would walk behind them half melting at the cuteness of the scene before us and half bitter that Marley didn't even have to break a sweat to walk the dog.
Then, there was the time that we discovered Marley feeding Cheeba doggie treats -- about 30 high-calorie peanut-butter flavored doggie treats. It was no wonder our friends were always making snide comments about our dog's rapidly expanding waistline. I'm not above blaming my 3-year-old for his not-so-svelte appearance.
Jack and Cheeba didn't have as deep of a relationship, but it was blossoming. Mostly it would be Jack making rudimentary barking noises at Cheeba that sounded less like a dog and more like him cat-calling some hot woman on the street ("Wooo wooo. Wooo wooo.")
The last day Cheeba was with us, we found Marley sitting with him in our bedroom. She was holding onto his neck and had one of her toy spoons held up to his mouth. She looked up and told us very matter-of-factly, "I'm giving Cheeba medicine because he's sick."
I know, I know....cue the "Aaaaaw." But it is one of those moments that I know I will never forget.
Now, Marley informs everyone that Cheeba is "dead" (don't you love how blunt preschoolers are?) and in "doggie heaven." Sometimes she likes to add a little color to doggie heaven by saying, "He's eating lots of food and playing, playing, playing."
I'm always surprised by how happy it makes me to hear her say that.