Eight years ago, we went to the humane society to "just look". We didn't have a pet at the time, and we did have in mind that we would find a small dog that would be just perfect for our home and our four girls. We wanted a short haired breed, so we didn't have so much of the shedding, and we preferred a puppy that could grow up with us. As we wandered through, a chihuahua caught our eye. Looking back, man, she was ugly. Eyes so bugged out that she could tip forward at any time. She had been brought in with her "brother", abandoned by irresponsible owners. We told one of the workers that we'd like a visit with her, and we went into the little room and waited.
The worker came in with the chihuahua and the brother. Immediately, the chihuahua started yipping at us and was jumping around like she had too much caffeine in her food that morning. The brother came to me, sat down in front of me, and looked at me with these big, brown eyes. I've always wanted a dachshund, ever since my best friend in high school had one named Mrs. Beasley. (Yes, the dachshund was the brother of the chihuahua. Go figure.) This dachshund, however, was unlike any one I had been around before. His fur was long and shiny brown, and he just had the sweetest face. I looked down and said, "I've always wanted a dachshund." Ken said, "you want HIM, don't you?" I said yes.
They told us he was 2 years old, but that was merely an educated guess. He was housebroken already, and he had already been "fixed". We stopped by the humane society store and bought him a bed and decided we would pick up the rest of what we needed at Wal-Mart later.
Because of his color, we quickly named him Rusty. (I know, not original, but it stuck.) That night when we got ready to go to bed, I said, "Come on Rusty, let's go to bed." He followed me up the steps and went straight to his little bed beside mine, and he curled up to go to sleep. As far as I know, he didn't move all night. I think he was just happy to be home.
He's been pretty grumpy throughout his life, but he sure has loved his family. He especially loves Ken, for a similar reason the girls and I love him. Ken is fun, entertaining, and he spends time with Rusty. When Rusty isn't feeling well or wants to rest, he curls up beside me. When he wants to be comforted, he comes to me. Lately, he has come to me a lot. We aren't real sure when he started losing his eyesight, because it happened rather quickly. One day he was jumping around playing, as much as he ever really played, and the next minute we were tossing him Goldfish crackers just to watch them bounce off his nose because he never saw it coming. Now he's bumping into walls, struggling to climb the steps, and running into the backs of my legs when he follows me. He sleeps a lot, and when he's lying down, his breathing is labored. When he looks at me, he just looks sad. When I look at him, I feel sad.
This is quite the dilemma, as we now face the fate of our aging canine companion. To look at the prospect of our home without Rusty just tears me up. The questions come up constantly... "Is he in pain? Is this inhumane? Are we being selfish?" When does one know it's time to make that awful choice to humanely end a pet's life? It's like watching him lose a battle to a terminal disease, and just having to wait until it's his time to go. It's greuling really, and I wasn't prepared for the toll it would take on my emotions.
Rusty isn't our only dog, but he's our only Rusty. He's a proud little booger, but he's quickly becoming a very dependant one too. As we watch him wither, the thoughts of his fate have rolled around in my brain. I am Biblically educated enough to understand that because dogs have no souls, they can't trust Jesus as their Savior and can't go to Heaven. On the other hand, I lead myself to wonder if maybe God allows the sweet ones to go so they can be companions for us when we get there. Then I remember that Rusty isn't one of the sweet ones by anyone's standards, because he's been grumbly and grumpy most of his life. So then I realize that when he's gone, he's gone. Shoot. I really hate the way that feels. Yes, I know he's only a dog, and believe me I have my priorities straight as far as animals versus people go. Until you go through it though, don't judge me, because my little noble lion doesn't have very much longer.