My Friend for Life

Today is one of the saddest days in my life, I had to say good-bye to my faithful and trusted companion of almost fourteen years. She came
into my life when my twenty-year old son showed up at our house with a little three month old black puppy that someone else didn’t want. He was wearing a black leather jacket and she was sitting in the crook of his arm and he had his hands in his pockets. I didn’t even see her at first. I was recovering from an operation and was sitting down, taking it easy. Our other two dogs, Kiana, a Siberian husky/Malamute mix was laying on the floor along with Tinker, a long-haired dachshund. Neither noticing the pup.

When my son came along side my chair, I looked up and said, “Hi, son, what’s up?”. He just stood there with a little smile on his face and then I saw it. The little beady black eyes looking at me from her perch in his arm. She was all black and matched perfectly with his jacket.

I saw her and said, “Take it back!” He then told me she wasn’t wanted by her previous owner and we had to keep her. I didn’t want three dogs, our house was full with the two we already had. Well, that was the day Cinder came to live at our house. My son didn’t care for the name she had and said he wanted to change it but wasn’t sure what we should name her. I said, “Well, let’s let her pick her name. Let’s see what habits or little idiosyncrasies she had and wait a little while, she would pick her own name.

A couple days passed, all of us calling her puppy, when we noticed she would sit on the mantel of the fireplace not just once or twice but most of the time when there was a fire going. Our fireplace mantel was about four inches off the floor and an easy place for her to reach. My husband had a fire in the fireplace most evenings when the weather was cold and so it was a cozy spot. As we tossed a few names back and forth between my husband, son and I decided on Cinder. Most appropriate, don’t you think?

Cinder settled in with the family very well. She got along with everybody, she was always ready to play and be loved by anyone who was there. Kiana took on the responsibility of being mom to Cinder. If you know anything about Huskies, you know they talk. Oh, not like humans talk, but the sounds they make are always the same to the appropriate questions.
– 2 –

Do you want to go out? A low woof. No. Do you want a snack? Ro ro ro. Yes. And so on. Living with her we learned the language she taught us. It didn’t take long, we are a relatively smart bunch.

When Kiana became Cinder’ mom she taught Cinder the language too. And so it went. Time passed and Tinker became ill and we had to say good-by to her. Tinker had been with us since she was a pup and was fifteen years old. And then about a year and a half later my husband became very ill and in a short time went to be with the Lord. It was a shock to all of us because we didn’t even know he was ill, even he didn’t know.

The loss of “Papa”, as my husband was called to the dogs, wasn’t too traumatic to Cinder, she was still young and didn’t have the repoire Kiana had with Papa. But three months later Kiana had quit eating and would always lay on the floor in front of the door waiting for Papa to come home. When she went out she would walk around his truck and come in and ask me where he was. I tried to explain to her but she continued her watching and waiting. And then things got serious quickly. Kiana was thirteen and a half years old at this time and she herself became ill. After a series of infections, medications and visits to the emergency veterinary hospital; our vet said he didn’t know what to do for her as dogs grieve and if she came out of this it would be because she did it herself. Because of her age and grief, she did not recover. And, so, we said good-bye to Kiana, also.

A month after my husband died our son married; so in a little less then a year I had said good-bye to my husband, Tinker, Kiana and my son. I didn’t lose my son but it left the house very empty. It was just Cinder and me.

Cinder became my very faithful and trusted companion quickly. Her life had changed as dramatically as had mine but being young, she adapted a little quicker than me. We played together, took long walks with the neighbors and their dogs and in general became bonded to one another.

Those days were sad days for me because of all my loss but Cinder was there. On the days when I was very sad, Cinder let me know I wasn’t alone. She took on the job of looking out for me and when I had a bad day she would not let me be sorry for too long.
– 3 –

When I cried she wouldn’t let me wallow in my grief; she would push her way into my lap and shove her head against my chest and snuggle to remind me she was there, only getting off my lap when I settled down. There aren’t words to describe the comfort and love she showed me. Holding that little warm furry body close and sharing her love with me was exactly what I needed.

Two years passed and the bond Cinder and I had was stronger then ever. Then one day I noticed she didn’t seem to be her usual self. She was drinking water but not eating. The next day she was still drinking water but would get some food from her dish, drop it on the floor and lay with her nose almost touching it, but wouldn’t eat it. I called her vet. I took her in and by this time she really was ill. He ran some tests and called me later saying that he couldn’t find anything that would indicate why she was feeling bad. He asked me if she had gotten into some anti-freeze. I told him there was no way; she was with me practically every minute of every day and there wasn’t any anti-freeze for her to have gotten into.

He didn’t know what to do but said she still wasn’t eating and was slowly getting more and more listless. We were on the phone for about forty-five minutes with no conclusion in sight. He had read me the results of her tests and could not find anything specific. The only thing he knew to do was for me to bring her in every morning before work and they would put a shunt in her leg and flush her system for the day. Then I was to pick her up every night after work. He said we would do that for three days and see where we were.

I called my son with the news crying again because the vet has said he didn’t know if this would work. My son didn’t tell me at the time but after we hung up he called the pastor of our church telling him the situation and asking for prayer for me and Cinder. My son said I had lost so much and Cinder was all I had left and would the pastor think it would be all right to request prayer. The pastor said of course it was right and of course they would pray. I didn’t know any of this till the crisis had passed.

– 4 –

So, I took Cinder to the vet for three days in the morning and picked her up every night. On the third day when I went to pick her up he opened the door and said, “Say hello to a perky puppy”. Cinder came out bouncing and ready to go home. Oh, what a God we serve. He has dominion over all even things we might consider little things to him.

We still didn’t know what the problem was but we were both very happy that the flushing did the trick. I went on-line and after some research found a site where it stated that some dogs go through this at about four years old. It wasn’t known why or where it originated and most didn’t recover but it happens. Cinder was different, she came home.

Well, time continued on and Cinder and I lived our lives doing all those things that friends do. We took walks, rode in the car, played monster and had a good old time. Dogs know about all about games, you know. Some she taught me. We played the monster game. Of course, I was always the monster. I would come after her growling and stomping and making faces. She would bound out of reach, get down on her front legs with her rump in the air and wait for me to try again. If I was lucky enough to catch her, then the growling would begin and you’d think she was tearing me apart. However, if anyone ever saw this behavior, they’d think we were idiots. Or more to the point, I was the idiot. Oh, how wrong they would have been. Dogs have a sense of humor that is indescribable, they know all the little tricks to get you to play. And I fell for it most of the time.

We would play hide and seek. Yep, they know how to play that, too. But in this game I would get to hide most of the time. She wasn’t very good at hiding because when she hid she had to keep peeking around the door to see where I was and that gave her away all the time. She couldn’t wait for me to find her she just had to look.

I threw balls and she would fetch and bark for another turn. I’m not very good at fetching because she ran faster. When she was through she would just fetch the ball and walk to the door. Plainly saying the game was over.

– 5 –

Every morning I would let her out and she knew when she came back in she would get her snacks. She would come in and sit with her nose pointing at the cabinet that held her snacks. Then she would look at me out of the corner of her eye to make sure I noticed she was waiting. The nose never moved just her eyes.

Cinder and I grew older together and she turned thirteen and a half years old in February this year. We continued to enjoy a very close and loving relationship each slowing down a little. We still played games just not as boisterous.

And then about five months ago we got up and Cinder wasn’t her usual bouncy self. Her breathing was very hard and her little body was visible bouncing with every beat of her heart. I called her vet and told them what was happening and took her in. By the time we arrived it seemed that her heartbeat wasn’t as hard as earlier. The vet said he wanted to keep her and run a few tests. The tests didn’t show anything conclusive; however, he said if he didn’t know better he thought she might have had a heart attack. Although, most dogs don’t recover.

He said her kidneys were marginal and she had to be on a special diet. The kidney problem related back to when she was four years old. And so she came home. After all this, she slept most of the time and her breathing was rather labored and she panted a lot.

Then one afternoon I had sat down to watch a show on TV and Cinder was on the couch, one of her favorite places to sleep. She woke up, got off the couch and walked around like she was sniffing the air. She walked around in circles and I called her to me. When she turned around her eyes were sunk back in her head and were almost all white. I went to her and held her till the episode passed. We assumed she had a stroke.

A couple of months passed and then one evening about a week ago I was on the phone when she fell down. She started crying because she couldn’t get her back legs to hold her. I immediately went to her and lifted her onto her feet and massaged her legs and back thinking that they might have gone to sleep.
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But that wasn’t the problem. I called my son and asked him to come over because Cinder had a problem.

It would take him about twenty minutes to arrive and Cinder would fall down two more times before he arrived. The third time she fell, the look on her face said it all. She was asking me, “What’s wrong, Mom, I can’t stay up?”

We took her to the emergency vet and there the vet checked her out and after going over her history and age said she thought it was time.

My son and I stayed and held and petted Cinder while the vet administered the medicine that would release her from this world.

I know because of my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and Scripture that one day I will see her again. I know that my husband, Tinkerdink, Kiana and Cinder are all together again.

My eyes were filled with tears and my heart was also crying and felt that it would break. The hole that Cinder filled eleven years ago was opening again. My best friend in all the world was being put to rest.

Cinder has been there for me and me for her all this time – I don’t believe the unconditional love she has given me can be found anywhere else in the universe outside of God’s love.

That might sound goofy but she filled my life with unconditional acceptance and love – she filled the emptiness when my husband went to be with the Lord, she was there to snuggle when I was feeling down, I don’t know how she knew that I needed a snuggle but she did.
She didn’t care what I looked like first thing in the morning or what I did or wore. She was there.

Well, the empty space is back and I miss her. I know the crying will eventually calm and I will again accept this was the right thing to do and the best for her.

– 7 –

I’ve shared my life with four faithful and trusted companions and each was in my heart with their own peculiarities and problems and love; but Cinder lifted me up when I was at my lowest and filled my heart and life with her own. She was there. She loved me, she looked forward to our walks, our games, watched till I came home, she guarded our house and family and always let me know if something wasn’t right. If I put eggs on to boil and forgot because I was busy doing something else she would come and tell me something wasn’t right in the kitchen. If someone was walking through the yard, she’d let me know immediately or a sound she didn’t recognize and I didn’t hear she would bark and bounce – after all – it was her job and she took it seriously.

I know because of my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and Scripture that one day I will see her again. I know that my husband, Tinkerdink, Kiana and Cinder are all together again.

I also know, in time, that the joy of Cinder’ life will be remembered without the pain.

Scriptures say without God there is no truth and no real love. He knew what He was doing when he gave us dogs. They are not like people who sometimes disappoint us and can cause us to doubt ourselves; dogs are exactly what they seem. They love us not expecting any love back, they protect us and guard us every minute of every day we are lucky enough to have them in our lives. There is real truth and real love in a dog. They ask nothing in return.

My life has been blessed to have had Cinder in it and I thank the Lord for allowing her to stay with me all her life.