Saying Goodbye to Furry Kids

Some of us have furry kids.  Others have human kids.  I have both. My two furry kids are 12 and 13 years old now.  By human standards they would be strong-willed, prepubescent, know-it-all tweens just beginning to make a mark on this big, amazing world. But in their unit of measure – dog years – my furry kids are aging seniors in the twilight of their lives.

My furry kids are Yorkshire Terriers named Maddie and Leigha. Both have been with me through a lot of good (and plenty of bad) times. They have lived with me alone and also with other pets I have had over the years, including birds, turtles and strays dogs off the street.

They have seen boyfriends come and go.  They were around before I met my husband.

They have moved up and down the east coast with me. They even waited for me more than a year so that I could live and work in Europe while they stayed behind with my parents.

Theirs was the fur that I cried on when my dad passed away.

They were home to celebrate when we brought each of our babies home. Although celebration wasn’t their initial reaction, they have since forgiven me.

Maddie's baby photo

My oldest, Madeline Louise, entered my life shortly after I got of out college. I was single and living by myself.  I was lonely.  One night I decided to stop in a pet store even though I knew I shouldn’t get a dog from a pet store for a variety of health and cost reasons.  But, I couldn’t resist.  At 15 weeks old, she was still so tiny that I could hold her in one hand. I asked the store clerk if I could take her out and hold her for a while. Her bright, round eyes and scruffy little fur were too much to resist. Her price tag was beyond ridiculous and since I was a poor recent college grad with only Ramen noodles in my cupboard, affording a little dog like her was going to be impossible no matter how much I loved her. As I walked out of the store, the clerk held Maddie in her arms and made her little paw wave goodbye to me.  Dagger in my heart.

After some thinking of ways to pool money together and a phone call to my dad begging for help, I was able to eventually go back and buy her.  It has been one of the best investments of my life and happiness.

My second child, Leigha Belle (pronounced Lee-a), was given a first and middle name as well because I pretended they were my kids. She was born a year later. I had been scouring newspaper ads with my boyfriend (of the time) in pursuit of expanding our furry kid family. When I found an ad for a litter that was to be born in a few weeks, it seemed like the perfect match!  The breeder lived on a farm outside of the city that I lived and told me she would let me come look at the puppies as soon as they were born. I was so excited for that time to arrive. When the call finally came to plan a trip to see our new addition, it came with some bitter sweet news.

Leigha in a pocket

The breeder on the phone began to tell us that only one of the pups had survived.  Apparently, the mother Yorkie had an infection which harmed her milk resulting in all but one of the puppies making it.  She was the runt of the litter — our Leigha. Because she was forced out of the bunch when nursing, she avoided the infection contracted by her siblings. Luckily, the breeder had recently had a litter of Boston Terriers born just weeks before and the mother of that littler took Leigha in and fed her as one of her own pups.  Leigha’s mother was too sick to care for her.

I visited our new puppy at 2 weeks old when her eyes were still shut.  I visited her again at about 8 weeks when she was bigger.  She was a little bigger than the size of a hamster. Finally, I was allowed to take her home at 13 weeks.  By then she was the size of a guinea pig. She weighed only ½ lb. I had never seen a dog so small! She was a pint-sized pooch with the attitude of a great dane.

That all seems like a blink of an eye ago, but the reality is that my little furry kids are aging fast.  Neither one of them can see nor hear very well. Leigha has an enlarged heart. Maddie has lost almost all her teeth. Both of them are pretty wobbly on their feet. They have good days and bad days. I have started to believe that I will be lucky if they make it (especially Leigha) to their next birthday.

I realize losing a pet can’t be compared to losing a child but how do you know when their time on this Earth is no longer enjoyable?  How do you as the parent of a furry kid decide when it may be time to say goodbye? My pets have been a part of every big moment and memory in my life for more than a decade.

I hope I know what to do when the time comes.  But, I know the time is not yet.

About bizemom

I am a busy working mom (get it... "Biz e-Mom"?) of three kids under the age of four. I have a white-collar day job, I have a night job as a mom, and an "in between" job as a freelance writer and blogger. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment and I don't go to bed until 1 a.m. No matter how much I complain, I like being busy. That must be the Sagitarius in me--we get bored easily. Now on to the next adventure (I mean... venture!)
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6 Responses to Saying Goodbye to Furry Kids

  1. You know by listening to and talking with the animal in the languages of the heart, telepathy and spirit. What touching stories, both; Maddie’s very nearly brought tears to my eyes, probably because I know what it is to be absolutely broke (like presently) and fall in love. Animals are mankind’s angels. Without them, life would be grim beyond endurance.

  2. Kim Pugliano says:

    You gave me the chills and brought tears to my eyes. I love my pets as much as my own son, but in a different way. I can’t fathom life without them. The dogs think I was put on this earth for them – as they should. I go upstairs, they follow. I’m on my bed, so are two dogs. Using the restroom, they wait outside. I wholeheartedly LOVE my babies.

  3. writingsprint says:

    We said goodbye to our dog a few years ago. It’s taken us that long to get over her; we’re only just starting to think about a new one. A dog might not be a human child, but I think it really is one of your kids just the same, and it’s definitely part of the family. I think you make the decision when it’s what’s best for the pet. With ours, at the end, her kidneys had shut down, and it was going to take regular dialysis to keep her alive. We decided it wasn’t worth putting her through that. Give them hugs and show them love while they’re here.

  4. abbesroad says:

    I am so sorry you are going through this with your sweet girls. Deciding to put my girl down was a harder decision than I ever could have possibly imagined. Meanwhile, give those girls lots of love, and you’ll all be happier.

  5. What a lovely, heartwarming story and they are so cute! They may be getting older now but I think (just my opinion) that since you’ve compared them so much to humans I’d be inclined to see their days out in the same way i.e. stay with them right til the very end and be there as they take their last breath. Actually, I don’t like to even think about it, and what do I know because I don’t have any pets? I’m sure you’ll do whatever your heart tells you, you’ve listened to it all along and given them both a fine life from what I’ve read.

  6. Ms. A says:

    Literally brought tears to my eyes. There are no human kids in our household yet, but our furry one is just as demanding. Going to the restroom, she lays on the bathroom rug, waiting for you to finish. Going to our parents house, she’s in the backseat. Sitting on the fronchporch, she’s laying beside you in the sun. Brinkley is our child in many ways, and when the day comes to make that hard decision, I pray for strength and understanding. I believe it gets to a point when time isn’t quality, but quantity. Good luck, and love those babies til the very end!

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