A Dog Named Paisley

I’ll tell you straight up: this is a sad, bittersweet story. And it may seem strange to talk about the week of Thanksgiving, but please bear with me.

On July 16, 2013, our family adopted a little black Schnauzer from the Abilene Animal Shelter. Our daughter Erin gave her the name “Paisley.” She was supposed to be Erin’s pet, but just a few days after we brought the dog home, Erin went off to church camp for a week, so the animal adopted Kathy as her favorite human.

Because she was a rescue dog, the folks at the shelter couldn’t tell us exactly how old she was, but they guess-timated that she was probably about three. They gave us a certificate to have her spayed. Then we learned that, oh by the way, she has heartworms. So we had to have her treated for that before we could get her “fixed.”

This was a strange little critter. For one thing, she didn’t really like to be petted, and would sometimes snap at you if you tried. She didn’t enjoy playing fetch, and she didn’t “work and play well with others.” The few times we took her on a leash to the Abilene dog park, she mostly kept to herself. It absolutely freaked her out to see anyone running – dog, squirrel, cat, person. Didn’t matter; she would bark loud and long just at the sight of someone running or jogging. So, we mostly stuck with going on walks around the neighborhood, to explore the territory and sniff out the interesting smells, and for her to do her business. And yes, we always carried doggy poop bags, to clean up after her.

Here’s Paisley on Christmas morning a few years ago, wearing her special holiday sweater.

And on spring nights when a thunderstorm rolled through, she would bark furiously at the thunder. She didn’t seem to be afraid of the storm; she just wanted to make some noise of her own. But if I would get up and take her outside and sit on the porch with her in my lap, well, she was content to just listen to the rain and watch the lightning and be quiet. Sometimes I called her, “Paisley, the Weather Dog.”

A few years ago, she got to where she couldn’t control her bladder. It was very embarrassing whenever we would be hosting a home Bible study. Then we learned that she had developed bladder stones, and it wasn’t her fault – she truly couldn’t hold it. The vet surgeon removed a half dozen stones, some as big as ping pong balls, and solved that problem.

Unfortunately, in the last few years, she had developed a heart murmur. The vet said the heartworms had probably damaged her heart and left it in a weakened condition. She got to where she would sometimes wheeze and have a hard time catching her breath. But she still slept with us every night. Some nights, she would jump up on to the bed under her own power, but usually, we had to pick her up and put her up there. Then she would scratch and paw at the covers until she had turned down the bedspread.

Then early last Saturday morning, she jumped down off the bed, and almost immediately, began wheezing badly and coughing. She acted like she wanted to go outside, and she went out and immediately threw up and had diarrhea. She continued to have serious wheezing. I had to go out of town for a memorial service, but Kathy stayed here and took Paisley to the vet. Dr. Kameron listened to her breathe for a long time, and said her heart sounded like “a washing machine.” She speculated that it was probably due to a blood clot, and that we had two options – we could treat it medically, but it might not work, would be very expensive, and would need to be continued from now on.

Option two was – well, you can imagine.

Kathy and I had already discussed this before I left, and we agreed that, while we obviously did not want it to come to that, putting her down would probably be the most humane thing to do. And so that’s what happened. (Special thanks to Dr. Kameron for getting up early Saturday morning and providing compassionate care for our fur baby.)

Paisley was with us for over nine years. She should have died from the heartworms a long time ago. Even if that didn’t kill her, if we hadn’t adopted her, the shelter probably would have euthanized her within a few weeks. Instead, she had a good long life as a member of our family. Like all of us, she had her good points and her bad ones. She was a grouch and a curmudgeon, but then again, sometimes, so am I. At least she was honest about things.

So thanks, Paisley, for loving us, and letting us love you. We’ll miss the way you loved to chase squirrels in the back yard, and the way you tolerated the cat. We’ll miss the sound of your nails clicking on the wooden floor, and the ferocious greeting you would give us whenever we got home in the afternoon. And we’ll miss how excited you would get when we said, “Let’s go for a walk,” or that it was time for bed. We will always cherish our memories of you, and among the blessings that we will celebrate at Thanksgiving this week will be your friendship and companionship. You weren’t perfect, but you were ours.

So long, Puppy.

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