Princess, our blonde cocker spaniel, became a part of family when I was ten years old. I had wanted a dog for a long time but my parents had always resisted the idea. Mostly because we lived in a house with a sensor alarm so any animal would’ve always set it off. The summer before my tenth birthday we bought a new house and we could have pet in this one. My mother however said that if I wanted to have the dog so badly I’d not have to not only take care of it I’d also have to earn it. So we made a deal, if got straight A’s all year I would get a dog. So of course I worked harder than I had ever worked in my life and earned the dog as promised.


I remember so clearly the day we bought Princess. We were walking in the mall and passed the pet store. In the window they had a litter of cocker spaniel puppies for sale. Ever since I saw Disney’s “The Lady and the Tramp” I had wanted a cocker spaniel. We stopped to look and I saw her right away. She had her head leaning on the window sill and sleeping. “That one,” I shouted to my dad. So they took her out of the display and took us to their bonding room. Right away she came over to me and licked me and I knew that she was the one. We took her home that afternoon, June 6th, 1989. She was exactly eight weeks old. She immediately became a part of our family. Both my parents are huge animal lovers having had pets all their lives. She was smart, beautiful and loyal. People always commented on how beautiful she was and especially her blonde coat.


In 1994 our family had a major change take place when my father was transferred to Indonesia. We had a choice to make. Do we take Princess with us or not? She had been with us 5 years and was a full member of our family. We couldn’t imagine life without her. So we decided to take the chance and took her with us. We had to leave her in quarantine in Singapore for 5 days. They were the longest 5 days of my life. I couldn’t wait for us to pick her up from the airport in Indonesia and take her to our new home in the oil company camp. The moment we let her out of her kennel the first thing she did was run straight to the bath so we could bathe her. The five years we lived in Indonesia Princess not only continued to enrich our lives but touched the lives of the people around us and those who would watch her when we would return to the states in the summers. She had a sweet and giving personality. She was playful but never aggressive. She got into the trash and loved to steal food from the table. Princess was the perfect companion.


While living in Indonesia my sister and I went away to boarding school. The separation was hard on our very close family. It was Princess that got my parents through it. She made the emptiness of the house without us seem bearable. She was at my parents’ side and celebrated with them every time we came home. Since Indonesia is a tropical country this caused Princess to suffer a chronic ear infection. We returned to the United States and the day we had to take her to the airport, she was going ahead of us to Houston; I looked at her in her crate as they prepped to load her unto the plane I broke down. I was touched by this sense of longing for her and concern for her over the long trip. She was now ten years old and I worried the long trip would affect her. My mom just held me and took me to the car as I cried softly while they took Princess to the plane.


When we arrived in Houston we immediately took Princess to Texas A&M to their veterinary school to diagnose her chronic ear infection and what we could do. The problem had become so severe that both of her middle ears had to be removed in order to cure the infection. This meant that for remainder of her life Princess would be deaf. But of course she maintained her wonderful spirit and loyalty after the surgery. It seemed that the ones who most suffered from her hearing loss was us. As she entered the senior stage of her life it seemed that getting older was something else she would do with same grace and spirit she always had. Princes lived for another six years. She was as beautiful in her final years as in her first. The loss of her hearing never affected her continued love and loyalty to our family. We all seemed to have adjusted to it just fine. As a member of the family she also had a say in who my sister and I brought home as boyfriends. My fiancé Jerry, an animal lover himself, was immediately approved by Princess. In fact, when he was over she only gave him attention. I think it was because she knew he’d give her slice of turkey at Thanksgiving.


It had always been my prayer to God that we never have to put Princess down. I always asked God that He bless her with a good old age and take her when it was time. God answered my prayers in every way imaginable. We were blessed that Princess never suffered any chronic illnesses such as cancer or arthritis and seemed in healthy good spirits right up to her death.


The day she left us I remember as clearly as the say she came into our lives. I was over at my fiancé’s house when my father called me saying that Princess was very sick and I should head back immediately. I must have broken so many traffic laws racing to the animal hospital all the while thinking about her and praying it was just a false alarm. But when I pulled in to the parking lot I saw my father come out of the hospital to meet me. The look on his face told me all I needed to know. He hugged me and said that there was nothing they could do for her, she was dying. I went in with him to the room where my mother, who was already crying, was waiting. They brought her in and placed on the table. She was wrapped in a towel and not moving. I touched her head and immediately was shocked by how cold she felt. She had always been this warm little body next to me. In the moment I touched her I said her name. She had been deaf for years but I swear that in the moment she heard me. Her soft doe eyes looked up and she knew it was me, it was her mama. Her tail made a slight movement and it was as if she had been waiting for me to get there before moving on. They took her away once more to prepare her for the final injection to ease her suffering. I petted and sang to her telling her that mama was there and wasn’t going to leave her. She was already getting colder and I think she was gone before the vet even placed the needle in.


The hardest phone call I had to make was to my sister in New York to tell that Princess was gone. She had always said that she never remember any of our life before Princess. I couldn’t contain the tears as told her and hung up the phone. My fiancé called me shortly after and knew when I answered what had happened. We left her at the hospital so that memorial service we had called would come get her so she could be cremated. As my parents and I sat in church that evening it took everything in me not burst into tears as the choir sang the hymn “On Eagle’s Wings.” That night as we entered our house the emptiness left but Princess was overwhelming. It was unbearable. Her things were still in the house. I could even smell her. It was one of the worst nights ever. We got her back a week later in a beautiful urn. She was in her home again and with her family where she belonged. Princess had died a month before her 17th birthday. A year and a half would go by before we even were ready to talk about having another dog. And even now, with our new cocker spaniel Cocoa, the loss of Princess is always with me. Some days I’ll see something or hear something that reminds me of her and it’s like the day she died all over again. I know the time we had with her, especially how long she lived and that we didn’t have to end her life was a gift from God. Dogs are God’s was reminding us of the unconditional love He knows we’re made for and capable of giving. I think it is perfect that dog spelled backwards spells God because that’s where they come from and that’s where they return when they leave us on this earth.


Ruth from TX