When my mom had triple bypass surgery in the summer 1999, I knew that I needed to bring them closer to me then Mesa Arizona. It took until the summer of 2000 when I found a house 1 mile from mine. My dad was 70 years old and didn\’t want to move, didn\’t have the energy to move, to box everything up. I had a company do it for him. They moved in and our 16 year old poodle had a great big back yard to explore or lay in the sun. Unfortunately, that dog, that I grew up with for 16 years of my life, had Alzheimer\’s and she also had cataracts. Where mom and dad could navigate the new house, the female black poodle, who had memorized the small mobile home they had lived in, was lost in the new house. I was over for a quick visit when I noticed that she was laying on their bed. I asked my dad how long she had been there as normally she sat by him on his lap. He told me that she wasn\’t acting right and she spent most of the time in their bed. The smells were the same as the old place so I guess she found confort in that. I went to look at her closely and found one of her eyes had swelled shut. When I asked my parents what had happened they said they hadn\’t noticed. My mom had diabetes so her eyesight was not great and dad had enough on his hands with mom, the new house, etc. I took Bea from the middle of the bed, where she lay, and I went quickly to the vet hospital. There they told me that she had a stye from something in the back yard, she had a heart murmur, and she was walking back and forth and back and forth. Very similar signs of the geriatric who have Alzheimer\’s disease. I knew what had to be done but I needed to call home. Mom was crying and gave the phone over to dad claiming she couldn\’t talk anymore. Dad told me that I would have to make the decision as he made the one for our old dog that died when I was 17. I was not kind to him about that incident – I was 17. Enough said. So he told me that he would understand no matter what my decision was. I heard mom crying in the background that she hadn\’t said good bye to Bea, that I should bring her home, but I knew that it was time. Stalling would not do anyone any good. So I told the vet to euthanize her. They wanted to do it in the back but since I had been in the veterinarian field, I told them I would hold her while they did it. As she went to sleep, I told her that she would be okay. Everything would be fine. It was okay. And then, she lay there, in my hands, and even though she was there, she was gone. 16 years of memories passed for me. When I picked her from the window in the pet store where she was laying in her food bowl, with her head hanging over the side, sleeping during the chaos that was the other puppies and the people staring and pointing at her through the window. As a puppy, she was the calm I needed in my life. I brought her home and we buried her in the back yard. Dad helped me and when we were done, we put a large rock near the head of the box that she was buried in and mom came out with her cane and said some words. They both lived in the house for another 4 months and it seemed like they were just waiting to die. There was no life in the house. I told mom to go out and get another dog. She didn\’t want get attached again. I kept after them and they decided to go to PetSmart, that on weekends, would bring small dogs to the stores that needed to be adopted. These were 2nd chance dogs. My mom and dad came home with a strange dog. The paperwork said she was part miniature grey hound and part chihuahua. She was a beautiful blonde pumpkin color. She had long spindly legs she was found on the street. It took the rescuers 7 days to get her. She would run off, she wouldn\’t be tempted for food, even though they could see her ribs. Finally the caught her and then she went into foster care. It took her 3 times as long in foster care and there were times that the second chance group thought that she would have to be put down. Finally they thought she was ready to be adopted out. Mom and dad got her, although mom was hoping for something smaller, to sit in her lap. Its not that Sarge is large, but she\’s was about 19 pounds. Her adoption papers said her new name was Katrina but my dad, being dad and a Korean War vet, said the dog was as ugly as his ex-sargeant. So he names her Sarge. She loved my dad. When he would go to his room to watch his old war movies or westerns, she would follow him and lay on the floor right by him. My dad went to the VA for a simple operation and they botched it so he died in 2002. Sarge had 1 1/2 years with him. Mom didn\’t want to get out of bed after dad died, but she had to because of Sarge. Sarge needed to be fed, she needed to be pet, and she made it known that she needed attention by sitting in front of the TV and blocking the view until mom got up and did something with her. Pretty soon, mom wanted a smaller dog, one that sat on her lap. She kept \’threatening\’ to get another dog. As an only child I knew that I had to have some say in what she was getting since anyone alive after she died, would be my inheritance. So I went out and bought not 1 but 2 dogs for her. Long story. We were worried about how Sarge would react. Well, when mom died in 2006, and I had to move them all to my house, the two little ones were just into their terrible 2\’s. Sarge was 6 years older. So she involuntarily taught the younger 2 to go through the doggy door to get outside. She taught the little female maltese to eat grass when their stomach hurts to induce vomiting. She taught both of them to stay in the shade of the patio instead of the hot sun. She taught them to eat everything or she was going to clean their plates for them. Sarge is now 10, the little ones are 5. I haven\’t lost my mom and dad because they are alive in the dogs. Whenever I\’m away from them for more than a normal 8 hours, I start getting antsy. I need to reconnect with them. I need them. All 3. Every day I tell Sarge that she\’s a pretty dog and I give her a little more understanding, a little more leeway, because she\’s a rescue dog and she comes from the streets. Its funny though – Sarge must have memories of her other life when she was a puppy. Whenever my voice gets strident with one of the other dogs, Sarge goes running outside to the backyard. I end up having to go out and get her, pick her up (she\’s 26 pounds now) and bring her in and pet her, telling her it was one of the puppies, not her and that she\’s a good dog. Sarge lives for those words \”good dog\” and she knows what that means. Funny thing was, the night before my mom died, she asked about what would happen to her babies. We had talked about splitting them up – giving Sarge to her caregiver and I would take the \’puppies\’ as I am allergic to Sarge. I break out in hives when my skin touches her hair and if I\’ve hugged her, I have to change shirts. So my mom was worried but I gave her my word that I would keep them all together. I\’ve kept my promise to you mom. Please keep your promise to me to watch out for me – which includes making sure I have enough money for bottles of benedryl.

Dogs. They give meaning to life and are obviously a gift from God.

Kay from AZ