Eliza--English Springer Spaniel/Beagle Mix
The Loss Of A Dog So Special
I lost my Eliza, July 4, 2008. She was an English Springer Spaniel/Beagle mix and was 12. The loss of her has knocked the life out of me. She was my inspiration to move. She kept my mind sharp. I never knew what she would be up to. Most people will say that they have intelligent furry family members. My Eliza was the smartest of them all. She knew how to pick locks (an exaggeration perhaps, but it seems true never the less as she was always on the opposite side of the fence regardless of how many chains we put on the gate) and formulate sentences (I would swear on my life that she said "hello" to me. I know that "hello" isn't really a sentence, but she was a dog for Pete's sake!) She had this wonderful sense of humor that I envied. She could make anyone laugh with her melodramatic mannerisms and an upturned eyebrow. She would steal your seat if you got up and would climb behind you to push you out if you didn't have the sense to forfeit the chair first. It's hard to imagine that such a being could be silenced by something as mundane as liver disease.
We got the diagnosis this past Memorial Day. I will never forget bumping into the vet in the hall and seeing that vial full of stomach fluid. Despite my head knowing that a doctor wouldn’t bring another patient’s fluid into an exam room, my heart still prayed that it wasn’t from Eliza. Though I lack a medical degree, I knew then what news we were going to get.
The doctor said we were lucky to have her for so long and that it was unfortunate that she had to ruin our holiday weekend with the news. In hindsight, perhaps she was attempting to lighten the mood. At that current moment though, I could’ve ripped her apart for displaying such insensitivity. There Eliza stood, panting from the excessive fluid she was carrying, and the doctor was apologizing for ruining our weekend. Lady, you obviously read us wrong.
Eliza’s doctor said we would be lucky if we had her for another two weeks. If you know how to do simple math, you know that we got to have her for slightly longer. I give the hospital’s specialist the credit for that. Had she not looked past Eliza’s illness and seen hope where none, but I, could see, the first estimate would’ve been the final outcome. Thanks to this woman’s talent and her ability to see Eliza as an individual, we were granted a few extra weeks. Luckier still, despite her stomach being over-sized with fluid, Eliza didn't change. She was still getting into mischief up until the day before she died.
To sidestep for a minute, my father died from a heart attack on March 4, 2003. I bring this up because I always said that I hated that I never got to say goodbye to him. I felt I could've accepted that loss better if I had known the end was coming. I would've actually spoken to my father instead of only sporadically acknowledging that he was still alive (divorce + melodramatic teen=unloving daughter). I would've asked him questions and really done my best to get to know him. I wouldn't be feeling such deep regret nearly six years later.
After he died, I prayed that if I ever was to lose someone else that I loved that I would be able to know that they were dying so I could appreciate them and give them the attention that I never gave my dad. After going through what I did with Eliza, I would like to take back my prayers. Knowing I was going to lose my little girl was hell. Not the kind that people melodramatically say that they're experiencing after a bad day at work. Not the kind that a young girl once said writing a History paper was. This was the kind that made me rethink every prayer and complaint I had ever voiced.
I remember for those first two weeks after she was diagnosed, I didn't want to leave her side. I would kiss her and hold her and just look at her, wondering why I didn't see in her what the doctors did. She would smile at me and I'd collapse into tears. I often asked myself, “Could that beautiful face really be leaving me soon?” I did my fair share of praying, asking God to let me have her illness so I could be in pain and die in her place. Obviously, that prayer wasn't answered.
When she died, I was at her face. My tear stained face was the last thing she saw. I'm still trying to come to terms with that. I wish it had been something truly beautiful like a sunrise or a sunset or a lake or a giant bag of doggie treats. It was my face though. I saw the light leave her eyes. I never thought I would see such a thing. It is something you never forget.
When Eliza first came into my life, I didn't really want a dog. I was 11 and didn't want to have that type of responsibility. She was cute, but she peed on the carpet within the first five minutes that she was home. I had to "baby sit" her that first night, making sure she didn't have any more accidents on the carpet or tear up anything important. I remember watching her, being amazed at her small feet and the raccoon-esque noises she would make. She made me laugh with how hard she tried to pick up a toy twice her size. Watching us from her recliner, my grandmother told me to play with her, to interact with her, to let her know she was part of the family. I did play with her and I started to like her too, but we didn't exactly "click" yet. She was a dog. I was girl. We were not equals.
At the very small funeral we had for her at the pet cemetery, I told this story about when I finally fell in love with her. It was her first rainstorm with us and the power had gone out. My door was closed and I heard this light scratching on it. Being a horror story fan, I immediately thought that it was a monster. I slowly opened the door and I saw this small, brown and white puppy looking up at me, whimpering. For the first time ever, I picked her up and held her. I centered all of my attention on getting her to calm her down, so much so that I didn't even realize that she had peed all over my new white shirt. From that point on, I was all about her. I proudly showed off her pictures. I told stories about her. I became one of those annoying people who think that their little one is the most precious, fascinating creature ever. When I close my eyes and think about Eliza, I see that puppy. She never really grew up in my eyes.
Six months later, I now feel enough back on my feet to finally write about her. However, as I've cried during the greater portion of this hub, I'm obviously still coping. I'm still in awe of her. I still show off her picture and tell stories. The pride I feel for her still burns strong. Even though it hurts to just say her name sometimes, she deserves to be mourned and remembered. There will never be another Eliza. My loss is the world’s loss too.