We find ourselves here once more. Telling the story of a little dog who unexpectedly wove her way into our hearts. Yesterday afternoon, with the gentle and kind assistance of the wonderful folks at Cincinnati Animal Medical Center, I said a tearful goodbye to our Charlie.
She wasn’t always ours. Charlie began her life as the much coddled lap dog belonging to Tony’s mom Pat. Very shortly after she came to them, health problems began to take center stage as can happen in life and Charlie learned to tolerate shuttling to and from the homes of relatives between hospital stays. After Pat’s husband Larry passed away, Charlie and Pat settled into a number of peaceful years and I know Charlie was great company for my mother-in-law, who was now very much on her own.
Eventually, Pat’s own health began to suffer and with that, her ability to care for her beloved little dog. And so, in the grand arc of all the things involved in Caring For An Aging Parent, we took the dog.
She was a bit worse for wear, having been reared on tasty but lacking-in-nourishment “treats” and too little exercise. When Charlie arrived here at Chez Bogard, she weighed almost 20 pounds and was unable to even walk up the driveway without lying down to rest. Eventually, forced into the Bogard Clean Living Plan featuring good food, no junk, and more and more gentle exercise, Charlie lost her extra pounds, getting to a healthy 13 pounds. Imagine losing a third of your body weight!! Over time, the compounding changes in her health led to a softer, whiter coat and more energy. Charlie’s feisty personality really blossomed and she settled into life here, amazingly able to keep up with our two larger dogs, Iris and River.
“Even the tiniest poodle or chihuahua is a wolf at heart.”
But honestly, her favorite thing was lying around on the couch.
Charlie was the last creature I saw each night before I went to sleep as she liked to lie at the foot of our bed. Sometimes, in full moonlight she would shine like a bright little beacon.
I often drew her in my bedside drawing practice. I’ve always liked scribbly dogs, and Charlie was very scribbly indeed.
As you may have read, the last couple of years have been a bit rough around here with quite a bit of loss and grief.
Charlie spent nearly a year as our only dog and we could see she was aging a bit. But we adjusted.
She was able to go to the seashore for the first time….
And she continued to make friends wherever she found herself.
Last December we adopted a puppy called Philomena and Charlie, once again, adjusted beautifully.
I find myself this morning settled with our decision to let her go. Everyone who knows us had been saying for a while, ‘maybe it’s time’, but I struggled to know when exactly that time was. For a good long time now, Charlie has been deaf to all but the shrillest sounds, blind to all but the shifting shadows of light and dark. Still, she had her routine and she carried on. We managed her pain as best we could and carried on with the day to day. She relished meal time in what I now know was an almost demented obsession. I look at the photos of her from as recently as this past spring and I can see how much she had shifted in just the last couple of months. Gone was the brightness in her eyes and she just seemed weary. Much as I hated to admit it, I was holding on to her for my sake, not for hers. It was time.
We didn’t choose Charlie, rather we all just sort of fell together somehow. I always joked that “she was not the brand we ordered.” Here was a dog who’s hair care routine was more expensive than my own! And yet, she was one of us. We learned a good deal of patience through the stewardship of this little dog. We learned that change is possible – good, solid, life-altering change – at any stage of life. Charlie may have been an unexpected acquisition, but we loved her well.
Long may you run, Charlie.