I've never lost a pet. Until now, that is. And the feeling is utterly indescribable. I got the call around 12:35 a.m., letting me know Heather and Mr. K's dear Cousin Snackle had passed away. It was quite unexpected but with him recently turning 12 years old, I suppose it shouldn't have been that shocking. In truth, "Cousin" Snackle wasn't a cousin at all to me and perhaps that is why it has been so incredibly hard to handle. He was, in fact, my family's first dog and is the very pup responsible for turning me - a former C-A-T lover - into a dog person after several years.
Snackle, like all the pets I've had and will ever have, was a rescue. For two years, he tried his best to find a forever home but was repeatedly sent back for this reason and that. Finally, after the third home turned him away, Snackle was set to be sent away for good - likely to be euthanized. That's when my little sister stepped in, worked her magic and did what she continues to do best to this day: convince people they absolutely have to take home another animal no matter how many they already have. This time, the very people she convinced were my parents.
Snackle was part German Shepherd, part Chow Chow and, as legend has it, part squirrel - yes, squirrel. That bushy tail had to come from somewhere! He was a rather difficult pup who hated UPS trucks and just about any man who dared come on his property. Except my dad. Snackle was unsure of my dad for a while there but over time, found a playmate in him running around out back. Snackle was, in many ways, unpredictable which made me uneasy around him for the first year or so. But, as most rescue stories go, all it took was love and a little time and his loyalty was ours for life.
About six months ago, Snackle was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We knew his time was limited but I had no idea just how limited it truly was, especially when his medication seemed to be keeping his condition at bay. Last night, he starting failing quick. Panting. Restlessness. Dull eyes. Collapsing. For those of you who've been there, you know what this looks like. And while I wasn't there to witness it in person, it breaks my heart just knowing what my Snackle pup went through that last day and that I wasn't at least there to comfort him or say goodbye.
I tell myself he lived a good life. And, for the 10 years he was with my family and being spoiled with countless belly rubs from my mom, he truly did. But I have a hard time knowing he spent his last Christmas with our friends at Pet Paradise and not at home because we were headed to the Scottie Mom Wedding. I know it isn't anything we can change now but what I would do to take that back! To spend those days brushing his fur that came out in chunks no matter what the season, pulling up in the driveway to a wildly wagging tail and a big grin, and letting him out then in then out again - only to repeat the cycle over and over just so he could perform yet another perimeter check and subsequent barking fit. Alas, such will not be and for now, there is this hole in our hearts that undoubtedly will be empty for quite some time. Farewell, my Snackle pup. Until we meet again...