Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Loving Memory of our dear family dog Domino

It's been a hard week. Our family dog Domino, who lives with my mom, is about to pass on. She is seventeen years old and has had a wonderful life, but as any of you who have pets or love animals know, they are part of your family and to lose them is serious heartbreak.

I'm struggling not to cry as I write this. I've been fighting tears since Wednesday when my mom told me that she thought Domino, whose health had been deteriorating for much of this summer, was nearing the end. I immediately went to see her and how frail she'd become in just a couple weeks time... it was so sad. She really hung on this long I truly believe because she was waiting for her boy, my brother Dan to come home, which he did for a week to spend time with her and care for her. Then she saw me and yesterday Mom and I took her out in the grass for a couple hours to enjoy a beautiful summer day once more. We hoped she would just go in her sleep last night, naturally, but as my friend Eryn said, she is a warrior and she is so loyal, she does not want to let go. As we don't want her to be in pain, we are going to have to take her to the vet to let her go later this afternoon.

But the end is really not what I want to talk about right now. I want to remember her and share pictures. She truly was such a good dog.

Domino came into our lives in the summer of 1992, the year I turned 13 and my brother 11. My brother had wanted a dog for ages. We'd had one briefly, but he was a dog who belonged out on a big farm and he kept escaping and running into busy city streets, so we had to give him up for adoption. I have always been more of a cat person, but I was thrilled when we got squirmy little puppy, Domino. Our neighbors came across her when they were on vacation in Michigan. She was born on a farm and had two sisters. Our neighbor adopted one sister, Augie (for August, when we got our puppies), their cousins adopted another, Michigan (for where they came from), and then we adopted Domino (for her markings, though I think my brother really wanted to name her Ozzie for Ozzie Smith, his favorite Cardinals baseball player, but he felt or maybe I objected that he couldn't do that because she was a girl. However people always thought Domino was a boy name anyway for some reason). On the farm, she'd been called Cow Puppy because she both looked like a cow and she liked to try to chase the cows. She's a total mutt, definitely some Beagle in her. No Dalmatian, though every little kid that ever saw her always asked if she was.

She came to live with us right before eighth grade, ie. right before my life started to get ugly and I began to wear all black. That summer I was still somewhat happy hence the bright colors you are about to see me in and I was also in a hippie phase, hence the tie-dye. And I spent the summer at the pool. It was probably the last summer I did that and I would never be so tan again.

Throughout the darkness of high school, Domino was a bright spot. She amused me and my friends. She also was my confidante and partner in crime... She was the only one in existence who knew about all of my secret crushes. Why? Because I used to take her for walks past their houses of course. And they were quite long walks sometimes, but she was always game.

Picture time. You can click on any of these to make them bigger.

A boy finally gets his beloved dog

Our neighbor Emily with Domino's sister Augie (the blonde with the blonde) and me with Domino
This gives you an idea of how small she was as a puppy. I showed this to Scott and he thought she was my cat, Sid. I am playing with her with a cat toy, one of our cat Snuggle's catnip mice, which puppy Domino loved almost as much as giving kisses.
Growing up, loving her bone.

If you look carefully in this shot, which I believe my best friend Katie took, you'll see my Doc Martens, evidence I've gone from bright tie-dye to angry punk girl, but Domino loved me and the attention of my friends just the same. (Plus stoned people tend to drop food or happily share food with dogs.)

When we got Domino, we already had an older cat, Snuggle. Snuggle did not like Domino. She had no interest in hanging out with her or playing, much to Domino's disappointment. So Domino was thrilled three years later when my cat Sid came to live with us. They were partners in crime. Sid (and sometimes Snuggle got in on this too if memory serves), would knock things such as pies or loaves of bread off the top of the refrigerator or counter and Domino would eat them, with Sid claiming his share too.

My mom introduces kitten and dog, she seems to be explaining the rules of playing together.

Kitten and dog learn to play nice. This may be my new favorite picture ever.

Domino let Sid share her water dish, bed, and toys without objection (food, however, she would object over). In fact, Sid took over one of Domino's beds so completely that we tried to buy him his own, but he didn't want it. He just liked Domino's.
Much like rock stars, Domino and Sid's overindulgence began to show as they grew older. Here they are circa 2003 in what I like to call their bloated Elvis phase. Sid is now a normal weight. Domino lost a lot of weight this year.

My mom used to joke that Domino got fat instead of her during the divorce. Domino really was a good one to share your troubles with. And yes, she would be happy to split that muffin with you, too. Oh, you're making macaroni and cheese? Even better. Chicken? Now, you're really talking. Carrot?!?! Puhtuey! Spitting that out. That was a really evil trick, trying to feed me that crap. I'd rather you give me peanut butter and laugh at me when I try to lick it off the roof of my mouth because I may look stupid, but that stuff tastes good!

The biggest benefit of the divorce for Domino besides People Food, was that the restriction that my dad had placed about her being on the couch got lifted when he moved out. (But ever loyal, she always greeted him with tail wagging, even when my brother and I were shunning him and wishing she would too). Not that you could really keep her off the couch anyway.

The only football fan in our house

I used to love to tuck her in on the couch before I went to bed.

I wish I had pictures of our walks, our games and many of my other memories. More than anything, I wish she could have lived forever, especially for my mom and brother's sakes. But she had a long good life. Her sisters both passed on a few years ago. And even though my religious beliefs are convoluted and I don't really believe in an afterlife for people (though I do believe in energy), I have to believe in some kind of pet afterlife. Domino is on her way there. Her fur will be dark black again like when she was young, not graying like it has been over the years. She will tramp through lots of green grass with her sisters. She will probably track down Snuggle and torment her a little bit. She will meet the dearly departed dogs of my friends and family. And hopefully she will think of me and our long walks and she will still keep the crushes from my early teenage years secret.

I love you, my sweet girl. We all do.


J-Dog said...

I didn't her, but this post still made me tear up. It looks like she had a great life. Sorry for your loss <--(lame but I dunno what else to sa;y)

Unknown said...

This also made me tear up as well because it hits so close to home for me, and the pain of losing a dog you had for so long is one of the hardest things to go thru.

Domino you are awesome. I met you in Oak Park, and we had to put you outside cause my loser boyfriend I brought with me was allergic to everything that had fur on it. But you barked too much, and made the other dogs in the neighborhood bark, cause you wanted to be inside with the people and hang out. You mom brought you back in and we got to visit with you.
You have two awesome friends waiting for you in the clouds, they were my babies who had to go away , and are very friendly, cuddley and love to play! Say hello to Pennie & Spanky for me when you get there! oxoxox

Anonymous said...

I'm @driftsmoke on twitter and have been following this story the last few days.

Your loss has carved a place on my heart. Pets can love you like nobody else does.

Others have said it better:

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment. ~George Eliot

The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's. ~Mark Twain, letter to W.D. Howells, 2 April 1899

Best, safe journey to both you and Domino.

Pissenlit said...


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this. I will keep you in my thoughts.
My family dog passed away a few years back and I cried for weeks. I am really sorry!!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you all for your condolences and comments. They have been a great comfort to me. Especially loved the quotes DriftSmoke.

Gregory @ Teens Read and Write said...

I'm so sorry. I know how much it hurts to lose a beloved pet. We have three dogs and I'll be heartbroken when we lose any of them. We recently lost our cat Bob. He was old and had a good life but it still hurts. Enjoy all your good memories. You were given a wonderful gift with Domino in your life!