30: A Dog’s Heart

When M was four, he still didn’t have a little sibling.  (Since my sister, K, and I are so close, I couldn’t imagine M not having a partner to sleep with on Christmas Eve, or be silly with in the backseat of the car on long car trips, or have as a shoulder to cry on during tough stuff.)  I thought the best solution would be a puppy, so I researched different breeds looking for a sweet, loyal companion for M. A Maltese puppy was the answer.

     About 70 miles from our home, lived a couple who loved Maltese dogs so much, they became breeders.  We arrived at their meticulously kept property and were directed to their puppy house.  Instructions were given and it was obvious that we would be following these instructions very closely – if we wanted a puppy from them.  We were to be quiet “observers,” and we were only allowed to touch the puppy we would bring home.
    I had done my homework about choosing just the right puppy from a litter, and there were several litters to observe.  My eyes were looking for the one that looked active and playful, but not dominant or overbearing. As I scoped out the potentials, I kept reminding M not to touch the lonely, little puppy in a cage all by itself.  Soon my keen eye had zeroed in on my puppy pick. (And this one had all the markings the American Kennel Club suggested for Maltese puppies…major score.)
     But M didn’t want to come see my pick because he was worried about the little one all by herself.  I asked the breeders about this lonely dog, and they explained that she was an “only” dog – no other puppies in the litter.  And since their puppies were kept according to litters, she was kept by herself. Thirty minutes later, my only-child was driving home with his only-puppy,Winnie, the one his heart fell in love with.

It’s difficult to sum up the love, loyalty, and companionship these two have shared over the last thirteen years. But perhaps it’s in this last chapter of Winnie’s life I can explain.

About 4 weeks ago, Winnie started to cough, a lot.  In the last few weeks, Winnie’s cough has gotten worse, so I took her to our veterinarian yesterday. They discovered that Winnie has an enlarged heart, and it’s gotten so big that it’s cutting off her airway.  (The cough, is actually Winnie trying to catch her breath.) Poor, sweet Winnie doesn’t have much time – perhaps a month.

M left 4 weeks ago, and I think that broke Winnie’s heart.



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