I found this quote that goes like this:
“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man’s”
To anyone who has had a pet, a dog specially, and has shared his or her life with their dog, knows that one of the hardest thing ever is when it is time to say goodbye to that special friend. Sadly, my family’s golden retriever, Dona, passed away this Thursday, after 15 years of loyalty, holes in the garden, watching TV in the family room, births of grandchildren, college graduations, a wedding and most important, a life of wagging her tail whenever my dad came home from work.
There have been times when I have wondered if there is something wrong with me, because I have cried more the loss of a dog, than I have that of a person. Maybe it is because most dogs never complain even when their physical condition has deteriorated and they still manage to lick your hand, wag their tails, or listen to you complain about your life, when theirs isn’t as peachy. Or because when you talk to them, they give you this look as if whatever nonsense you’re babbling about, is the most interesting thing they’ve heard. I do believe dogs understand us in some way, maybe not words themselves but our body language, our facial expression, and they react accordingly to it.
When I rushed Dona to the vet this past Saturday because she could no longer stand and she was extremely thin, after I carried her back to the car, she gave me a look that said “I’m really tired, I’ve had enough.” I felt tears gather in my eyes because it was the first time I saw her really tired. I mean she was an old dog but she still had that light in her eyes that gave you confidence she was going to stay with us for a while longer. However, when I took her into the clinic, her longtime vet took a long look at her and I knew by his saddened look, that he knew Dona had given us all she could.
Dona changed our lives but I think there are two lives she turned around and that is my mom’s and my husband’s. My mom was never a dog person, even if we’ve always had a dog in our house, she always kept her distance and never really got involved. Yet Dona was the first dog that was her dog. She chose her as a mate for our long gone male golden retriever, Shadow, and from then on Dona became her little girl. I swear there were times Dona would eat before all of us! My mom bought her this huge pillow where Dona would spend most of her days, when she was not outside in the garden. My mom would even scold her like she did us when we were little kids, and when it came time to have snacks, she was the first one to give her something to eat.
As for my husband. He had never had a dog, always cats. So he wasn’t used to Dona always wanting him to pet her, the drooling, or the smell. He told me, as we sat with Dona before the vet put her down, that one of the reasons we have our own dogs today is because he learned to understand dogs thanks to Dona. Now my husband loves our two bassets and they too wag their tales when he comes back from work.
Dona had in total sixteen puppies, the first time with Shadow as the daddy and the second time, after we had had to put Shadow down because of a tumor in his stomach, with some random dog from the street who we believe was later run down by a car. To this day, my mom swears Dona was taken advantage of, and that was why she became pregnant with eight puppies. We figured out the stray dog was of a much more darker coating because all of Dona’s puppies were all black yet as tall as her. They looked like black labradors. We kept one, Lucas, and for a year and a half, a bit more, they were inseparable, one time even getting out of the house and having their own Homeward bound adventure. Sadly, some stupid person, because anyone who hurts dogs or any animal for that matter is just plain stupid, poisoned both of them, but against all odds, Dona survived.
She liked to travel with us from Mexico to Guadalajara and to this day I believe she found the bathroom facilities by the road a bit too rustic for her taste, because she always went when we got to my parents’ house in Guadalajara. She was amazing with children, very patient. Yet as she got older, and I got married and got my own dog, she wasn’t too keen on sharing the attention with little Moira. But as any grown dog, she gave Moira a lesson or two in respecting her elders, the same with our newest puppy, little Lucy.
When my mom called me to tell me there was nothing to do for Dona anymore, my husband and I rushed to the vet’s and even though my dad was there, he decided to step out for when the doctor put her down. I did, and I know this is hard to understand, even for me, but as I was going through a personal loss of my own, as I saw Dona close her eyes and finally rest, that image to this day has given me a lot of inner peace. I still cry as I think of Dona and I bet everyone in our family does. We still miss her roaming around the house, and my mom says she will miss her everyday companion, the one she talked to even if she never got an answer in return.
It touched me a lot to see many of our family and friends mourn Dona’s passing. You share too much of your life with a dog, that you think that they’ll be eternal. I will certainly miss Dona Sum, as we all called her, since my mom named her Dona after Dona Summer, but I am honored that I got to share my own experiences with her.
Dogs know no malice. Those dogs that become aggressive, do so because they are made that way. As the quote from the beginning says, a dog is a true gentleman or in our case, a true lady. People sometimes don’t get this bond we develop with our pets but for those of you who do, consider yourselves lucky to have it. Because even when they have to go, the impact they had in our lives will never go away.
We will miss you Dona, take care of my little monkey……..