I picked up my children from school yesterday and we made our monthly trip to a little shop called My Favorite Muffin. After leaving the muffin shop, we were on our way to take one of their friends home and the conversation of my oldest daughter’s religion class came up. Somewhere in the midst of that conversation, my oldest daughter said, “I don’t care what my teacher says, I believe that dogs go to heaven.” Being someone that has owned dogs all my life, I agreed and said that dogs have a distinct personality, which tells me that they have a soul, which in turn leads me to believe that they do go to heaven. On top of that, I believe that Heaven is a perfect place, full of happiness and where there is no stress and no worry. I can’t imagine a place full of happiness without the love of a dog.
There are brief moments in my day when I experience that happiness and whatever amount of stress I’m under goes away. One of those moments is when I walk in the door to my home and my two dogs meet me at the door, jumping on me and wagging their tails, waiting on me to give them their chicken treats. Jackie and Lulu are sisters and I always refer to them as “my girls.” We got them from a friend and when we saw the group of five puppies, we had to get both of them. Something about their personalities that jumped out at us, even as puppies. We always referred to Jackie as “the smart one” and Lulu as “the cute dumb one.” Sarah, my middle child, is like me. She’s the animal lover in the house. She always says she wants to be a veterinarian. She spent time trying to teach the dogs trick and was, for the most part unsuccessful. She was able to teach Lulu to sit and she managed to teach Jackie to stand on her hind legs and turn in circles. Regardless, neither of the girls learned to fetch. Whenever the girls would escape from the house or the back yard, they would stick together. Jackie would keep an eye on Lulu and when we would go out on the front porch to call the dogs to come home, Jackie would come running and most times she would leave Lulu behind. I would tell her, “go get your sister” and Jackie would run back out and it was like she was telling Lulu, “Come On! They’re calling us!” just like little girls playing with friends down the block, and they’d both come running.
Over the last couple of days, Jackie was looking depressed. We knew she didn’t feel good. She wasn’t wagging her tail and she didn’t want to get off her bed. At 10:30 last night we decided to take Jackie to the emergency room. After blood work and urinalysis, the doctor gave us the bad news and without going into detail, I ended up having to make the decision to end Jackie’s pain. She had several problems and we were surprised to find out that she didn’t seem to be sick until the very end. I feel strongly that she was sick for a while but because she was such a happy dog and always needing to look out for her sister, she held on and ignored a lot of the pain she was in. Her tail kept on wagging even on those days that she didn’t feel like it and every time her sister went out the back door, she knew that she had to go out there and keep an eye on her.
We brought Jackie home last night and I put her on the sofa wrapped in a towel while I woke up the kids and let them know about their dog. We all cried and I spoke with them about the reality of having animals in the family and the inevitable difficulty of losing them. I told the kids that they could see Jackie one last time before I buried her if they wanted to and they chose to not remember her wrapped in a towel but running around the house and sitting on top of the sofa, peering out of the front window, waiting to bark at the mail man. Lulu walked around the house, searching for her sister. I let the kids know that it was going to be important to give Lulu extra attention. Sarah put Lulu in her bed and cried herself to sleep and I laid Jackie to rest between the two plumerias against the side fence. How fortunate we were to enjoy Jackie over the last four years and the unconditional love of a dog. Regardless of my daughter’s religion teacher’s opinion, I’ll look forward to seeing her again.