My daughters’ puppies died too young

Last night, my daughter’s new puppy died from Parvo.

It’s hard to lose a pet, especially a dog.  They are nothing but love.

We never knew the puppy personally.  Sarah lives in Alaska.  We did know how much she wanted and loved it.  She visited the puppy in the shelter since it was three weeks old and finally brought it home — only to have it live two weeks.

Murphy, Sarah's puppy
Murphy, Sarah’s puppy

In those two weeks, she posted pictures on Facebook and asked her friends to suggest names.  She named it Murphy.  When the dog became sick, she posted updates about her feelings and about Murphy’s battle.

I’ve always been a liberal Democrat and disagree with most things Charles Krauthammer writes — but I was very moved by a column he wrote in 2003 about losing his dog.  At the time, we had just lost our dog, Honey.

He talks about growing up in a city apartment with few pets, and then being introduced to the joy of dogs by his wife.

This is the concluding passage that has stayed with me:  “Some will protest that in a world with so much human suffering, it is something between eccentric and obscene to mourn a dog. I think not. After all, it is perfectly normal, indeed, deeply human to be moved when nature presents us with a vision of great beauty. Should we not be moved when it produces a vision — a creature — of the purest sweetness?”

His column is available here.

I also remember hearing an interview on NPR about how much we learn about loss — and the human condition itself — from having pets.

Our dog, Honey, died a week after her first birthday.  I had just gotten my video camera and recorded the grand event, which was carefully arranged by my other daughter (see video below).

Honey spent her days at my parents’ house, with my parents’ dog, Zellie.  Zellie, who is still my mother’s constant companion, was Honey’s mother. My younger daughter — whose life revolved around this dog — visited my father each day after school, while we — her parents — worked.  She played cards with my dad, sometimes for hours, and then put Honey on a leash and walked the three blocks home, often stopping to discuss dog ownership with all the other dog owners in the neighborhood.  When she was outside, Honey required a leash at all times, and we had several of them.

Honey’s miracle was that she was a total surprise.  My parents thought Zellie had been spayed and didn’t know she was pregnant until she gave birth. My daughter had been begging for a dog for years — so she had her puppy only minutes after it was born.

At one point, when Zellie was nursing her two puppies, the proud mother found a baby possum outside and brought into the bed with her puppies.

I remarked to my father, “She can’t tell the difference between a possum and a puppy.”

“She also can’t count very well,” my father said.

She kept bringing baby possums in and I had to eventually take that possum deep into the woods and let it go.

The tragedy occurred when the guy who mowed my parents’ lawn left without closing the fence gate.  Honey and her mother, Zellie, decided to leave the yard.  Zellie came back home.  Honey was Lhasa, part Jack Russell, and part Chiwawa — and much younger.  She sprinted two blocks and got hit by a car.  The person who hit her took her to the vet’s office.  It was our vet, and we found her there after an afternoon of frantic searching.

We do learn about grief, whether we want to or not.  Sarah, I’m sorry about your broken heart.  I wish you weren’t so far away.  I’m glad we have Facebook.  I know, with Parvo, you have to wait before getting another dog.  But when you do, I can’t wait to see the pictures.

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