Tomorrow would have been my loving, faithful little shih tzu’s 13th birthday. It was always easy to remember how old she was turning because she was born in 2000. While I always took comfort in the fact that little dogs live much longer than big dogs, we ended up having to put her down a few months shy of her 13th birthday. I know there are so many people going through immense heartache in losing family members, and I don’t want to take away from the very real loss of human relationships. It almost seems trivial to mourn the loss of a pet when others are saying goodbye to parents, siblings, children. . . But, as [I hope] any dog owner will testify to, there is absolutely a spot in each of our hearts reserved for our canine companions.
On her last trip – Fall 2012
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, I got to anticipate Gwennie’s birth and excitedly met her the day she was born. After picking her out early on as “mine”, I continued to visit her and her siblings as they grew and finally took her home at 8 weeks. As a full-grown 10 pound dog, there was little she didn’t do alongside me and my family for the next 12 years. Sleeping on her choice of human beds, going shopping, flying to family vacations, getting matching dye-jobs with me (usually pink, though she would have preferred red), camping, roadtripping for a month across the country (including sneaking into a Lewis & Clark IMAX movie with the fam and barking at a bear), summer camp, church retreats, you name it. Queen Quinevere (as she was registered—apparently someone at the AKC can’t decipher between a ‘G’ and a ‘Q’), or Gwen for short, was part of the family in ways the big dogs could only dream of.
Some of my favorite pictures of Gwen
While it has been a sad transition getting used to dropping food on the floor and still seeing it there 5 minutes later, and not having her “growl” and bark asking to be picked up when I come home, I take comfort in knowing she had a pretty great life. Understanding dogs can’t live forever, I think this had the best possible outcome. We kept each other company and were there for each other until her end. I grew up with her and am blessed to have done so. I won’t soon forget her unusual “talking” to her precious beanie babies, or that famed look when we took away her scavenged root beer barrel. So many memories, so many smiles. There will be more dogs in my life, undoubtedly, but Gwennie will always have a special place in my heart.
The last picture I took of Gwennie: one-take, with genuine emotion from both of us—me knowing what was to come, and her licking her lips after I gave her a gave her a tasty morsel of bread and milk
P.S. I did my nails today in honor of Gwennie; black and white, of course. She would’ve approved!