Sunday, January 22, 2012

Considering Heartache

This is my beautiful dog, Tequila.  She was an amazing dog and so devoted to me.  Her life with me was tumultuous.  I got her from a co-worker as a puppy.  I wanted to name her Coffee because she would drink my coffee when I walked away from it.  But my future brother-in-law thought it would be funny to name her Tequila.  So I did.

Several months after I got her, my landlord decided I couldn't have pets.  I was too timid to argue.  And another co-worker, who lived on a farm, offered to let her stay there until I found a different place.  It took a few months but husband #1 and I bought a house with our own yard.  I could get my dog back.  The co-worker's children were distraught and heartbroken at losing Tequila.  I considered letting her stay, but I loved her and wanted her to be with me.

Our new house had a quasi-fenced in back yard...on the East Side.  When you're an Eastsider, you understand what that means. ;-)  The back porch/deck had a lattice front.  But part of it was ripped off so human and animal alike could crawl under the "deck" to get from the front yard to the back yard.  The north side of the back yard had a chain-link fence.  The east side had a tall privacy fence, as did the south side behind the "garage."  The section between the garage and the house, however, had no fence.  I was able to let Tequila outside to go to the bathroom without having to chain her.  And she stayed.

Now my sister and husband #2 will argue about her staying in the back yard.  Yes, there were some occasions when she would take off and wander the neighborhood.  But considering how many opportunities she had, she didn't wander often.  And it never took her long to come back.

She was with me through two husbands and she survived my extreme work schedule.  I was employed in Southfield.  Living in Jackson.  I left at 6:30am and often didn't get home until 7:30pm.  My sister helped out by swinging by my house in the middle of the day to let her out.  This was after divorce #2.

She didn't bark for the sake of barking.  When I was gardening in the summer, whether in the front yard or in the back yard, she'd be out there with me, unleashed. I didn't fear her running away.  I didn't fear her running into the street or chasing any animals or people.  She was such a wonderful, devoted and loving dog.

In August of 2002, she had her first "injury."  She had caught her nail on the chain link fence Sunday night.  Steve and I bandaged it up because it was initially bleeding so badly.  The next morning when I was getting ready to leave for work, she seemed so...sad...and sick.  I told her that if she didn't feel better by the time I got home from work I would take her to the doctor. Her nail was no longer bleeding, but she seemed distraught.  I figured she was feeling a little stressed out over the nail and the bandage.  I was sure it would pass.  But I was concerned enough that I called my sister and asked her to go check on my dog earlier than usual.

The phone call I received was devastating.  My sister couldn't even call me, she had to have my mom do it.  She found my darling, Tequila, dead on my floor.  I was commuting with some friends to work by that time, but they didn't know how to drive my standard shift vehicle.  So Steve drove us back to Jackson.  We left work early.  My mom's truck was the hearse that drove Tequila to the veterinarian's office.  Ex-husband #2 was even a pall bearer.  And through my tears, I made arrangements for an autopsy.

I sometimes feel like I made the wrong choice.  Money was tight and I had to choose between the autopsy or having her ashes returned to me.  My need to know the cause of her death was overwhelming.  Not even two months before her death she had been given a clean bill of health.  What could possibly go wrong in two months? 

Cardio-myopathy. A life-long, perpetual thickening of the walls of her heart, making her heart work overtime to pump blood through her body.  And it's very possible the stress of that nail breaking pushed her over the ledge.

She left me for the Summerland.  She was only ten years old.  I hadn't had enough time.  I hadn't been there enough for her.  And I've been mourning her for almost ten years.

And it's crazy, isn't it, that I feel like I'm betraying her (just a little) because I'm considering adopting this boy?

And it's crazy, isn't it, that I feel like I might not be good enough for him?  Because I often feel like I wasn't good enough for her. 

At least not as good as she was for me.


  1. Dammit Dawn, you made me cry.
    If you decide to get the new dog, which you will, it is not a form of betrayl but rather a step in your own healing. Tequila would want you to be happy. Whenever a person can give love to an animal they will get it in return without asking. "Rummy" will love and appreciate his new home. He just wants to be loved and make you happy.

    1. I cried writing it and remembering it and reliving it.