She’s gone. My little girl has passed away. She departed on December 30, 2020, at approximately 4:35 p.m. I say approximately, because her appointment was for 4:30, and the clock in the car said 4:45 while I was screaming my grief into my wadded-up skirt to muffle the sound.
Last August, she was officially diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. We fought so hard. Our vet fought so hard, too. She prescribed a whole bunch of medications (a lot of which are for people too, for the same condition), and I tried to help our pup with her diet, and we kept her snuggly and safe. But over the course of the following 5 months after her diagnosis, we realized our trying wasn’t working. She was slowly struggling. Good weeks were followed by emergency midnight vet visits. We’d watch her belly bloat up repeatedly despite our attempts to keep it otherwise. Her lungs would fill up with fluid and she’d lose her ability to breathe. She was wasting away, all that muscle and adorable fat gone, at the end.
On Christmas eve, after so much hope and struggle and failure, she started coughing again. I was the last one to bed, and when I put out her stocking I started crying because I just KNEW. Of course I knew it would be her very lastest stocking. But I also knew that inevitable Something Else. That something else unspeakable would happen, very soon. In the middle of that night, she was gasping for air, and we took her to the emergency vet again and, after hard conversations, decided it would be for the last time. We picked her up very early on Christmas morning, had the holiday, and then on December 26, she came up to me in the wee hours of the morning while we were alone together, and she told me. She looked at me, and I gazed into her eyes, and she told me with her look that she was Ready.
The appointment was set for December 30. I spent those last days with her mostly in quiet reflection, me and her on the couch together, holding paws. I stepped away frequently to cry a lot. And then on her very lastest day, on December 30, J and I took her to the park, ate hangurbers, and had some last adventures. I was kind of freaked out, earlier that day, because while it had taken her days to recoup from that emergency vet visit, she was showing a little tiny bit of spark again and I was deriding myself for possibly doing the wrong thing. But she’d told me the truth back on December 26. After the park she wore down, and collapsed, and her breathing was struggling and her heart beat rapid against my hand and so I held her in my arms in the car for the whole rest of the way of her journey. She was miserable, she was done. She’d already said so. So we got to her appointment, gave her so much love….and then she peacefully went to sleep, and then she was…gone.
She was the sweetest little girl, with a heart that was much too big.
It was a rough road, from August to now. No sleep. Constant fear and anxiety. The challenge of keeping 6 different medications straight, to be given at several different points of the day – Mommy’s Apothecary, I called it. Watching her belly bloat and being unable to control it. Helplessness. The continuous chasing of pee and poo cleanups. The perpetual counting of her resting breath rate. Watching new treatment plans work for maybe 2 or 3 weeks, only to suddenly fail us. The panicked trips to MedVet in the middle of the night. Watching her heart beat so fast and so hard that it would quake her entire body. Watching her waste away. Grieving her, now, when it feels like part of my soul has been yanked away. Raging at the unfairness of it all, that she was still relatively young, all things considered, and that she was taken from us so soon.
I would do it all again, sweet girl, I would do it all again for you. As long as the spark and the hope was still there, I would do it all again.
But I don’t want to remember all of that. I don’t want to think of her, or look at her ashes sitting next to mom and Toby’s, and remember the anxiety and the pain and the struggle and the sadness. Here is what I want to remember, instead:
I will never forget that awesome day. It was February 20, 2016. After healing from the loss of Toby for a year and a day, we were ready to bring home a new friend. We walked into the LASPCA not knowing what to expect. Who would we meet? Would today be THE day? We hoped it would be. As we toured around, we met several dogs who didn’t quite vibe right. And then we came around the corner, and there you were. You were lying in your little room, saw us through the glass, and rolled over to give us your belly. When I sat down on the floor with you, and you licked my face, I knew my heart was yours forever. I’ll never forget the announcement they made as we walked out with you: “Angeline has been ADOPTED!” and everyone was cheering and J and I were weeping happy tears and then we got in the car and drove off toward nearly 5 wonderful, amazing years together.
Angeline. I’m not even sure if you ever fully realized that was your name. Ha! It was during that first week at home that you earned your first nickname: No Pee No Poo. This was because, for reasons unfathomable, you would NOT go potty when we took you on walks around the neighborhood. You just weren’t gonna do it on a leash. And then you finally did! I think we threw a small party the first time you pooped. Seriously, we were so excited.
After you evolved from No Pee No Poo, the names just kept coming. Over almost five years, you were (in no particular order): Pretty Girl. Sweet Girl. Baby Girl. Sweetpea. Licky McLickerson. Boobertuber. Baberino. Pooper. Pooperdoops. Babbie. Wee Beastie. Lass. Ma’am. Madam. Speed Bump. Loaf. Schmoops. Schmoopybutt. Wee Bit. And, last but never least, Crunchwrap. Crunchwrap was your last name for EVERYTHING. You actually answered to Crunchwrap!
But yeah, the walks. When we left the pound, we went straight to the pet store so you could pick out all your new stuff. And THAT, my dear, was the last time we were ever in public with you where you didn’t try to eat or destroy any other dog that crossed your path. After that, once you decided we belonged to you, you hated every other dog in sight! That made our neighborhood walks very interesting, indeed. Or, rather, watchful and furtive, at least from my end. I became incredibly skilled at knowing where every other dog-walker was, at every moment, from every angle, for several blocks around us in every direction. This was so I could perform Evasive Tactics, you see, to keep all those other evil dogs from even coming into your vision. You would get so riled up I was afraid you would get away from me and do something that would illicit a lawsuit or something. Scrappy little girl. You were no different, too, all of those hours whiled away on the porch of that apartment, barking at everyone that went by, protecting your homeland.
But you were not, thankfully, that scrappy with people. On the contrary, you loved everyone you met so much I always wondered if, were we ever to be burgled, you would invite them in and show them where the expensive stuff was! Your charisma was so high, you made friends everywhere you went. I remember one time, for travel, we had to board you at the vet and when we returned, instead of running gleefully into our arms, you meandered out eventually after stopping to say goodbye to every vet and tech in the place. Sheesh!
But believe me, if you loved every person, I could always see why everyone you met loved YOU. Because you had my heart so wrapped up around you that it will be that way forever, even though you are gone. Everything about you was solid love, and solid goofiness, and solid awesome.
Remember your Arm Hugs? I do. When we’d come home from work you would jump up on me and I’d bend down to meet you halfway and you would grab my arms with yours and hold onto them while you licked my face. But you never went nuts, licking my face. The face-eating was reserved for Papa, especially at bedtime. With me, you knew I didn’t really dig the all-out face thing, so you were very dainty. The Dainty Face Licks were the way to go. And the feet licks too. I loved those. And hell, ALL the licks. You were the lickyest dog I have ever, ever met.
Learning how you were, getting to know you, in that first year, was so so fun. And you were never taken for granted, sweetpea. Those things we discovered about you in the first year were things that I took so much joy in for the rest of your life. You were so…WEIRD. And eccentric. And derpy. And that was ok, because we’re weird and eccentric and derpy too. And discovering all of your weird eccentric derpiness was the most fun I’ve ever had.
Like the first time I ever did dishes after we brought you home. I was stacking things in the dishwasher, turned around, and caught you running off with a wooden spoon. All these years hence, we did dishes together. You were my best helper. Your favorites were the red spatula (which is my favorite too), the cutting boards, and the roasting pan. Nowadays, baby girl, doing dishes makes me sad and it makes me smile, at the same time. Because I can still feel you there, at the dishwasher, licking stuff. Especially the red spatula. That spatula will always belong to us.
You really were my best companion in the kitchen. Who is going to keep my floors clean now? Who am I going to talk to incessantly? Who do I sing my dumb little songs to? The ones that I created off the cuff just for you? Whose butt is gunna slide on the tiles until it rolls straight outta the room?
Who do I protect the trash cans from, huh? You were really talented at trash can picking, especially the bathrooms. Sneaky, too. Scrappy little street pup.
You were less talented at scratching your own ears. I never knew a dog who couldn’t scratch their ears, but you were pretty special about that. Like your back foot couldn’t coordinate with your head. It was adorable. You’d get all excited and riled up while we were playing and that would prompt you to stop, drop, and try to scratch your ears. As I always told you, you were indeed the Derpiest Derp Who Ever Derped. I wouldn’t have had you any other way.
Playing. You were weird about that too. You had zero interest in, or use for, toys. We’d throw a ball and you would run and…look at it. And then come back to us to inform us there was a ball over there that we needed to go get. Our attempts at luring you into tug-o-war always ended with this Look of, “Why the hell are you waving that Woobie in my face?!” Chew toys were not edible, and thus, not important. That’s not to say you weren’t playful, though. You just had your own ways about it. Papa would blow raspberries in your face and get you going. You’d run streaking through the house, back and forth, sometimes jump up on me on the couch, then bound off again. Or run out the back door and take a flying leap off the back porch of the house, land in the middle of the yard, and keep going until you culminated in a good roll in the grass before tromping over to dig in the tall grass of the fairy mound before splatting out to bask in the sun. That was your energy. Who needed toys, with that, I guess?
You were the only one allowed to get up on that fairy mound, you know. It’s a special place in the yard, and they accepted you. I was so glad when we bought the house and were able to give you a yard! We spent so much time out there. In this past year, especially, you were my garden helper. Last March, one of my favorite moments happened and it is so ingrained in my memory that all I have to do is close my eyes and I’m right back there again: I was sitting in the grass building the raised garden beds. The sun was warm with early spring, and you’d been patrolling the grounds. And then you came around the corner of the house and approached me and licked my face and you smelled like sunshine and your little seal whiskers were tickly and it was a perfect moment. One of those ones you cherish forever. You were helping me build those beds, baby girl. You helped instill a perfect moment into the place where beautiful sustaining things grow. I was out there working on things last weekend, my first time out there since you left, and I found a little nest, a little spot, under the legs of the high bed, where you used to lay for the shade. It was perfectly shaped like you. It will eventually grow over, but I know it’s your spot. I’ll always know. And so, Crunchwrap, I’m officially naming the space Angeline’s Garden. I’ll work really hard the next couple of months to finally get the whole area the way it’s sposed to be, and then I’ll make you a sign and it’ll be yours forever. Even though we mostly grow vegetables there. Which is pretty funny.
You hated vegebles. Like, so much. You would nudge aside the fallen cucumber slice during your floor patrols. You would scoff at the carrot stick. Broccoli? PAH! And gods forbid there should be a lettuce leaf on your floor! You liked potatoes though. And apples (which are not a vegeble, but there ya go). You WERE a total wino though. I discovered this in 2017, when your favorite Auntie and Uncle bought their house down here. Your Auntie and I were on the back porch drinking wine, and there was no furniture so I sat my glass down on the porch floor. You were there, of course. You were always there for our girl nights, being one of the girls yourself. You trotted right up to that glass and stuck your face in it! And continued to stalk our beverages and anything spilled on floors or any box-o-wine within nose-reach for years since. Your mother’s child, holy Crups.
My goodness, Wee Bit. As I sit here thinking, it is amazing how integrated you were in our lives. For both of us. We’ve been a little adrift since you left, because our routines always and ever centered around you. Mornings were our time, as you know. Oh yes, you know, because you were my trusty and faithful Fuzzy Alarm Clock. You’ll remember, our days started with the same routine. I miss this routine. Here it was, for safe-keeping: 5:30 am. Your cold wet nose would poke me in the eye. Or the ear. Or you would claw at my arm. Or lick my face or my hand or my elbow. Or you would stand on top of me. Whichever way you chose that morning, it was your way of hauling me out of bed. Once I was up, stumbling around in the dark trying to find clothes, you would run around excitedly, your little toenails clacking on the floor, until I finally opened the bedroom door. Then you would ruuuun down the stairs…but almost always only partially because you would stop halfway down and look behind you, to see if I was coming. Then you’d stop again, on the landing, to reassure yourself that I was right behind you. You were so polite that way. Then it was straight out the back door for your morning ablutions; then back inside so we could take our pills together. We always took our pills together. Then it was time for your breakfast and, after a couple of bites of that, you were ready to go back outside for the Morning Patrol which went this way: down the steps, to the right, along the side of the house; peer through the crack in the gate and bark if there was a dogwalker passing by; then back up that side along the fence, around the perimeter of the back yard, then up along the other side of the house through the garden; and then UNDER the house, for any quantity of time (I don’t want to know what you were doing under there), to then re-emerge back over by the crack in the gate…and then back up to the porch to lay down while I drank my coffee and woke up all the way (or, in the last stretch of months, to harass me to let you in so that you could have your post-breakfast nap on the snuggly couch.) After all of that, I remember how you used to come find me upstairs (or in the back, in the old place) while I was getting ready for work. You always knew how to find me. I would keep the bedroom door upstairs cracked so you could get in. Then, when we left, you would watch out the front window until we drove away; to be met again in the front room when we’d return.
I was kind of grateful, or at least found a silver lining, during the COVID thing, you know. The lockdown, working from home…really it meant ultimately that I didn’t have to leave you in the mornings. I had more time with you. Papa too, all the way to the end. You were a brilliant office assistant. You kept me company, and reminded me to take breaks by stalking my desk and nudging me in the leg. You were a great workout coach too, in the mornings. Always inspiring us to bend to pet you during exercises and keeping our yoga mats warm. And eating Papa’s face while he was on the floor stretching. Of course.
I’m glad you always woke me up early in the morning. I LIKE early mornings now. Thank you.
I miss our routines and all of the familiar things. Our time together in the mornings. The evenings when we’d come home and it was suppertime. And treats from Papa, your little jaunty prance to the Cabinet of Intrigue or to the counter, nub a-wagging. Grabbing the goodie and running off to your Treat Rug. Your barks at the back door when you were ready to be let inside. How you wouldn’t go in or out, toward the end, unless I came with you. How you always wanted your humans to be in the same room together and you would try to herd us if we weren’t. How you weren’t really a lapdog except when you were. The consistent and comforting background sounds of your toenails on the floor, or your feet in the dry leaves. The companionable moments in the library, sitting in our respective chairs – me reading, you gazing out the window. POPCORN TIME! And how we always had to keep the bathroom doors shut to save the trash cans. And how you’d pace laps around the living room but pass by me every single time to give me one Blep lick on the elbow as acknowledgement. And your dramatic teenager flops. And how you’d sleep on my feet, which was the most grounding and comforting feeling ever. And the little warm spots you’d leave on the porch after laying there a while. And how disgruntled you always looked when it was raining out: “MAMA, it’s raining in my YARD!” and also how you’d either knock the couch pillows on the floor (“Fuck that pillow!”) or build a fort out of them. And how cute you were curled up in your own little grey dog-bed with that one foot hanging over the side. And what a great road-trip companion you were, always so good. Or the way you’d sometimes leave mud from your paws on my side of the bed like, “You’re a gardener mommy, you like dirt!” Oh, and our turf wars…both over that certain spot on the couch, or the bedtime routine of having to physically move you out of my side of the bed so I could lay down. You’d steal my pillow sometimes! And moving you…good lords girl, you would go SO floppy once you were in bed. Angeline the Boneless, with the 40 million legs. And sometimes we’d share the pillow, that was the best. But somehow, all three of us snuggling together, I would always get the butt. And, of course, there was the gross stuff. Your poop-eating phase…and the time you ate maggots. And the hard health discoveries, like finding out early on you were epileptic which scared the shit out of us before we got you situated with meds for that. But we won’t dwell on those last parts too much.
There’s so so much more that I can’t capture, quite. So many things. All the things.
You were my best friend.
You were also my prettiest girl. Your deep huge soulful dark eyes and those glamorous white eyelashes. Your Snoopy ears, Dobby ears, with that one perfect white patch. Your whiskery chin, which I would scritch while you licked my hand. That eyebrow. Your cookies-and-cream furs. I will never forget your face.
How could I? If a well-loved dog, you were also well-documented. Did you know I took over 1200 photos of you? And you were my comic-strip star too. You always inspired me so much. And toward the end, I took so many videos of you, too. I’m so glad I did.
I’ll miss our language, the things I used to say to you. “OMG WHY ARE YOU SO CUTE?! How do you DO it?!” “Don’t worry baby girl, we’ll be back. We always come back.” “It’s dark dark, bark bark!” “Well yes, I KNOW it.” “All the timez.”
And our songs. “Puppy in the Bed,” and “I will follow you,” and our favorite, which I started singing to you our first week together and then sang to you in our very last moment together:
“I’m sticking with you, ‘cause I’m made out of glue.
Anything that you do, I’m gunna do too.”
That one is in my head constantly and I’ll sing it to you forever.
I’ve written all of this from our couch, where I can see you sitting alongside your brother Toby, and your Grandma. Your photo is there, and I can just see your eyes above the box that holds your ashes, peering at me like they always did when I was writing.
It’s hard to lose you so soon. But the years we had together are priceless and you have changed my life forever in the bestest way.
I’m so, so very glad that you picked us, that day we walked in looking for you.
I know you’re in a good place, now. You’re not struggling anymore. And you’ll never be deaf. You’ll never be blind. You’ll never be crippled up in your bones. I will not say goodbye. We will see each other again someday. You are my little spirit girl now. I can feel you, and will always feel you, when I wake up too early on a Saturday morning, when I’m doing dishes, when I’m in our garden. Because I’m Sticking With You, in my heart, forever. Mama’s got you. Mama’s always got you.
Love Always, ALWAYS,