The Dog I Never Wanted
I still remember that August evening. My husband called me, “They are admitting Mom. Go to her house and bring Mattie home.” Mattie was a difficult dog through no fault of her own. When my mother-in-law got her from the breeder, she had no business owning a puppy. Her significant other’s children were in the process of moving him out of her house and into a nursing home due to advancing dementia. My mother-in-law was out of shape and Mattie was a runner who liked to escape her leash while the whole neighborhood chased her. As her health failed, Mattie barked incessantly, went long stretches with food and water, and she ruined two sets of carpeting because she wasn’t properly housebroken.
By the time she came to live with us permanently, Mattie was 14 years old so we put her in diapers so she wouldn’t ruin our floors. Once she was fed regularly and given more attention than she knew what to do with, the constant shrill barking stopped. Within a few months she had wormed her way into our hearts. She was part of the family.
A few months after she turned 17, we boarded Mattie at our regular kennel when my husband and I went out of town as an early 20th anniversary celebration. As we boarded the plane to go home, I get a phone call from the vet “She has blood in her stool. Probably nothing to worry about. It’s most likely stress.” I picked her up from the kennel and she seemed glad to be back home. She wasn’t eating, however, and over the next few days she became increasingly weaker. Mattie lay in bed between my husband and I and she cried out. We assumed she needed water. I carried her downstairs and fed her water through a syringe. She went limp in my arms. My husband checked her pulse and she slowly faded away. The emergency vet confirmed she was gone.
The house feels so empty now. It’s amazing how much of a presence a 7 pound Maltese could have. A piece of my heart is missing. Rest in peace and know you are missed and I loved you despite my initial resistance in taking a difficult dog in.