Angels In Fur

There are some dogs that are really angels in fur. The first dog I owned that was all mine was just that way.

Wicket came into my life nearly six months into my first year of marriage. I was thousands of miles away from home, quite often lonely and homesick. My husband was in the air force stationed in England and while I loved the country with all my heart, I needed a friend. And Wicket became that friend.

We purchased him from a breeder, a pure bred West Highland White terrier with an impressive pedigree. We actually had to be interviewed before his breeder mum would let us take him home. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him.

He was a 6 week old pup, still playing with his brothers and sisters, and yet he seemed to pick me out right away. Of course both he and his brother came to me to say hi, but I couldn’t afford two, so I let the breeder choose which would come home with us.

We picked him up on the way to moving into our base housing unit in the same small village his breeder called home.

He was so tiny that when he bounded outside to bark at the tractor that was tilling fields behind out house, he disappeared in the uncut grass of the backyard. The driver of the tractor just laughed at him. And every spring and fall while we lived there, when that tractor came back, the driver always looked to see if he was there barking.

Wicket went everywhere with me. I was only 19 and we still spent many weekends hanging out with friends and going to parties and Wicket always came along.

When my parents came to visit, he went with us all over the country, happily trotting along beside us as we visited monuments and ruins and every place in between. The only time he complained was when we’d been on the road almost non-stop for a month. At that point, in the ancient city of York, he sat down on the sidewalk, beneath the medieval buildings of the Shambles, and refused to move anymore. My husband picked him up and carried him the rest of the way, and Wicket carried the brightest smile I’ve ever seen.

I was blessed with Wicket for 14 years, during which time he and his ‘sister’ (a scottish terrier) Molly, were the only constants in my life. No matter how bad things got, they always greeted me at the door, happy to see me, no matter what.

I lost Molly in 2001 to a liver tumor. I thought that broke my heart. I had been cross with her that morning because she was too slow getting in the door when I had to go to work. When I came home for lunch I found she had died in her sleep, alone. I’ve never forgiven myself for that.

But when, in 2002, Wicket grew more and more sluggish and slow, I realized I was about to lose another piece of my heart. After spending a weekend with him, watching him every moment just about, I realized every time he looked at me he was trying to tell me he was tired and ready to go. I didn’t want to, but I wrapped him up in a towel, and took him to the vet. When the vet said his kidneys were failing and his temperature was very low, I knew I owed it to my friend to let him go. Instead of taking him home and laying the burden on my family, I knew it was my job to hold him as he went.

I couldn’t believe how fast it was. One moment he was suffering, then the drug was in and he looked at me one last time and was gone. It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen, yet I knew it was the right thing to do. To this day I cannot think of that last look without weeping. But I owed it to my dog to let him go to his rest without any more pain and I did it.

We buried his ashes out under the backyard tree right next to his sister. I had a heck of a time explaining his absence to his “little sister” who had come to live with us just a few months before. In fact, she bit me as I came in the gate. It was as if she knew I’d taken her brother from her.

Bess (another Westie) and her brother, Wallace, (a scottie) have helped me recover from the loss of my two fur angels, but I don’t think their spots in my heart will ever be filled.

But the lessons in laughter and joy I learned from all of my pets has gone a long way toward making me a far better person than I’d be otherwise. And I know they’ll be waiting for me if I’m lucky enough to join them someday.

Anyone who tries to tell you an animal isn’t anything more than an object should be immediately viewed with suspicion. Because anyone who can look upon these furry angels as anything but a gift from God to be cherished and loved while they join us on Earth isn’t worth the air they breathe.

Thanks, Mark, for your stories and this place you’ve given us to honor our friends.

Monica from NM