Tuesday, April 13, 2010


It's a fact. Dogs do not live as long as their owners. Every person that's ever owned a dog has considered this at least once during the dog's lifetime.

It's a fact.

But it's not supposed to happen this way: rescue a lovable one-year-old Doberman with long ears and a stubby tail. He's excitable but eager to please. He takes apples gently out of your hand like they're made of glass, then crunches away on them, carefully licking all of the pieces off the floor. He plays gleefully with other dogs and with the neighbourhood kids. He runs faster than you, but never pulls. He looks forlorn when you put him in Halloween costumes, but doesn't argue. He looks quizzically at you with those intelligent brown eyes, eyebrows twitching. His stubby tail spasms when he's excited, and twitches side to side when you scratch his rump. When you put booties on him in the winter, he looks like a deer on skates. He lopes around the house searching for you. Always, always, looking to be near you, to be with you. Sometimes he tries to crawl into your lap.

You haven't lived until you've had 70 pounds of lean sleek Doberman, gangly long limbs everywhere, in your lap, breathing dog-breath into your face.

Countless obedience classes later, Milo puts his paw in your hand, rolls over, and sits pretty (towering over your head!) for a treat. He's still a baby, barely three years old. The joy on his face at the sight of a squeaky toy is unspeakable. He plays with his brother roughly, but never with aggression. He's a baby. He's your baby. He still always needs to be near you. He'll put his head in your lap so he can eye your dinner. He's learning to heel, and he always comes when called.

He's your baby.

One day he stops eating. You change his food, cook him new food, you try everything. His ribs, already visible, start to poke out. Shortly after, his abdomen becomes distended. It looks so uncomfortable. He still wags his tail and stands up when you enter the room... because he's your baby, and you're his mommy.

The vet suspects cancer. No, it can't be. Tests and surgeries show liver failure. No, it can't be. This is Milo. He's your dog. He's your baby, but he's hurting and you have to say goodbye. There's that fact: it doesn't make it any easier to accept. Your heart is breaking.

So are ours.

Dear Milo:

We love you. Thank you for being so good. Thank you for helping me overcome a prejudice against Dobermans and other large dogs. Thank you for wearing those reindeer antlers at Christmas. Thank you for bringing so much happiness to my sister's life these past two years. She loves you so much.

If it could save you, I'd let you come over and scratch my hardwood floors up all you wanted.

We will miss you so, so much, buddy.


Auntie Val.

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