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photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Five Pounds of Pure Heart

Ten years and ten months ago, almost to the day, I was driving to work on a Saturday morning. I was very proud of myself, since I was on time- a rarity- and had on makeup and shoes and everything. As I rounded a curve in the 2 lane road that runs alongside Lake Palestine on the right and forests of pine on the left (I loved my commute), I saw up ahead...something running back and forth across the road.

Rabbit? No- not hopping.

Cat? No- not slinkyish enough.

Dog? Crap. A tiny little dog.

Loose dogs are common in the country, but most of them have that "I know where I'm going" look about them. This one was frantic. Terrified. Abandoned. Every car that passed he'd run straight AT as though he was SURE "they" had come back for him- throwing him out of a moving vehicle had surely been a horrible mistake and they'dve realized by now he wasn't in the car with them.

Sighing with resignation I pulled over.

Brownish, matted, skinny, the little dog ran to within 5ft of me- just out of reach before realizing "YOU'RE NOT MY MOTHER" and circled the car, not knowing what to do. Each time he circled (at a dead run), he came just a few inches nearer, and I knew what I had to do.

I waited, kneeling.

This doesn't seem like such a big deal, but at the time I was roughly 27 months pregnant, so it wasn't nearly as comfortable as may seem.

Finally he came close enough to briefly put his tiny paws on my knee and I swooped him up- expecting to be shredded to bits by nasty little teeth.

But he didn't.

I got back into the car and he crawled up over my enormous belly,cuddled in under my chin and was asleep in seconds- happy to have had his fate decided for him.

Sounds like a real Hallmark moment, doesn't it? Except he was covered in mats and ticks and fleas and had been rolling in something long-dead on the lakefront.

I arrived at work...late (as usual)...and stinky (luckily a rare occurrence).

After applying clippers and alot of flea spray and soap, we found an old poodle- the Vets guessed him at about 10 years old. He was thin, and had "poodle teeth", but no heartworms.

So he came home with me. I called all the area Vets and placed an ad in the paper- clearly he'd been used to being in someone's lap all the time. Nothing.

All I can think is that his owner had to go to a home, or died, and whoever inherited him dumped him, threw him, tossed him out of a moving vehicle.

He told me his name was Tiny Ramon the Magnificent, Ramon for short- he abhorred "Tiny".

He became my lap-warmer, and although he loved all people and never offered to bite anyone at anytime for any reason, woe to the dog or cat- no matter the size- that tried to come near me while he was in his spot on my lap. In the over ten years we had together, only one dog was allowed to share my lap with him- Oliva the mini dachshund who was another rescue even older than he was.

He would play fetch for hours.

I've never had a manicure and haven't been to a beauty shop for a professional haircut in almost 20 years. Ramon had a standing appointment every 6 weeks at Aunt Weegi's Poodle Salon- "For the poodle who really cares".

He was so cold-sensitive he'd seek out a sunny spot to lay in in the middle of July- in the winters he would crawl under the covers and curl up on my feet.

Several years ago he was diagnosed in heart failure and had to be on lasix periodically to keep his lungs clear.

About a month ago, Ramon had a stroke. I thought "This is IT".

But he rallied.

Blind in one eye, walking with a wobble, he still did the Happydance at breakfast and dinner times. So I lifted him up onto and off of the bed, and sat with him while he ate.

Last night he woke me up coughing, so I gave him some lasix.

This morning he could barely walk, and didn't want breakfast. I'm not entirely certain he could see me at all anymore.

It seemed that all his internal switches were turning off, one by one.

He spent the morning in my lap while I did my computer stuff, as usual.

He watched me fold laundry curled up on his pillow, and I promised him I'd spend the afternoon holding him.

I went to take a shower, and ten minutes later when I came out, the last switch had quietly turned off and he was gone.

Guessed at ten when I found him, he warmed my lap and my heart for almost eleven years, which made Ramon...older than dirt.

For years it was a family joke that at the End of Times all that would be left would be cockroaches, and Tiny Ramon- their King.

Right now I do feel as though it's the End of Times- my heart breaks and I wonder how I can sit without him in my lap, come home without him dancing at the door, sleep without him firmly snuggled against me.

Right now, I don't know.

6 comments:

  1. Tessa is watching her third old dog in three years go through the last stages. She had them all since pups. One of them lived to be eighteen. We've still got other younger ones. We stagger them so we're never dogless. I recommend getting another. Rescues are best.

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  2. Fred, this was our third old dog in eleven months to pass over. We lost our wild-haired terrier Spooj around Thanksgiving last year to liver failure at 16, Galut our first pyrenees right after Christmas to cancer at 9, and now Ramon.

    We've got three left- Kate is a 12 year old border collie, Sugarbearmarshmallowdog is a 5 year old pyrenees, and Fizzgig is the baby at 7 months old.

    Spooj and Fizzgig were from the Humane Society, Ramon was found, Galut was a throwaway, and we're Kate's retirement home. Only Sugarbearmarshmallowdog was gotten "on purpose".

    And you're completely correct- rescues are best. OLD rescues even better.

    Give a big hug to Tessa for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We went through much the same thing with my best friend and cuddler of 20+ years. My heart still breaks and tears come to my eyes when I think of her...but I force myself to remember her beauty and kindness and all her funny ways and she still brings me happiness and smiles.

    I understand how you are feeling, gracie. Thank you for being able to care so deeply. Be in peace, Ramon.

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  4. I know this is a years-old entry, hon, but I just met you. It seems that, for the last couple of days, I have been breaking out crying over the deaths of my beloved cats. It's been a year and a half or so when the last of three oldsters left - all in the space of a year. I see avatars on forums and pictures here and there that remind me of them. They were all no less than 15 years old, but I so did not want their companionship to ever end. They were, from oldest to youngest: abandoned late in life (Tigger), disposed of as a kitten (Guy Lombardo) and just showed up as a youngster (Spot). I can't stop crying now, but I will stop writing.

    Stay magnificent and warm, Ramon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know this is a years-old entry, hon, but I just met you at another venue. It seems that, for the last couple of days, I have been breaking out crying over the deaths of my beloved cats. It's been a year and a half or so when the last of three oldsters left - all in the space of a year. I see avatars on forums and pictures here and there that remind me of them. They were all no less than 15 years old, but I so did not want their companionship to ever end. They were, from oldest to youngest: abandoned late in life (Tigger), disposed of as a kitten (Guy Lombardo) and just showed up as a youngster (Spot). I can't stop crying now, but I will stop writing.

    Stay magnificent and warm, Ramon.

    ReplyDelete

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