It was the year 2000; the dawning of a new century, when my mother died in May. It wasn’t a good time for any of us as we watched our matriarch take her last breath and our patriarch fall into a deep depression at our mother’s death. It seemed that only gloom and doom was on the horizon. In the year following my mother’s death, my family and I moved in with my father and the push was on to bring a puppy into the family.
My father didn’t want any part of a dog so resistance was high; but the push and tug of my youngest daughter at her grandfather’s heart string brought a new puppy to home. Faith was born in 2001 to a 2 1/2 pound father and a 5 pound mother; both blue-blooded Yorkshire Terriers. It didn’t really matter to us that Faith was born of royalty. She was our puppy and we loved her at first site.
As Faith began to grow, my father’s depression lessened. Faith had picked my father to be her “owner.” She was his constant companion often times punishing him if he was gone too long or didn’t say hello to her first. She had a cocky attitude and he loved it. In my humble opinion, Faith was the sole reason my father came out of his depression and started to enjoy life. My father cherished Faith. She was his girl. In fact, he called her “big girl” more than he called her Faith even though she was so tiny.
When Faith was three years old, she was out on our deck sunning herself as she liked to do. She jumped up suddenly into my father’s arms and started to rub her head against his chest. My father, sensing something was wrong called for me immediately. It wasn’t but a few minutes later that Faith was in complete anaphylatic shock. I scooped her up in my arms and raced to the vet’s office making it there in less than 9 minutes. The vet cleared the office and took care of her; essentially bringing her back to life. Faith had escaped death.
Faith was a spitfire. She didn’t like visitors and didn’t want anyone near my father. Her little 5 pound body would attack anyone who entered his domain. Slowly, the spitfire began to fizzle out and she started to lose weight. She dropped down to 3 pounds but was still my father’s constant companion. I took her to specialist after specialist and started her on all sorts of treatments but eventually I made the decision to stop those treatments that were painful to her and let her live a happy life.
She dropped to 2 1/2 pounds and then stabilized. When I say stabilized I mean that she didn’t lose any more weight but she never gained any either. If you picked her up to cuddle her every bone in her body could be felt. She still followed my father everywhere. Her head would always be craned upward to look at him so adoringly. I often commented that the look she gave my father was one of complete love and devotion; a look only a hero is worthy to receive.
Faith ultimately took up residence under my father’s desk in his room. She would bark at him when it was time to eat and she would bark at him when it was time to go to bed. My father would put Faith to bed and then wait until she was asleep to sneak back out of his room. My father was completely devoted to his sweet companion. In my father’s eyes, nothing was too good for Faith. He fed her from his plate before he ate to make sure she got enough; dog food was way beneath her and my father catered to her every whim.
Recently, my family has been talking about taking a trip to see my father’s family in Puerto Rico. I told my father I would not go without him. He told me he would not leave Faith at a kennel because she is too fragile and he would just rather stay at home with her. I agreed with him that Faith couldn’t go to a kennel because the vet had quit giving her her immunizations because of her weakened condition so kennels wouldn’t accept her so I told him that I could probably find someone to watch her. He didn’t like the idea but when I told him my friend (who knows exactly how he feels about Faith) would watch her he said he’d entertain the idea.
Today, while my father was home alone with the dogs, Faith made, what my father said, was an odd sound and then quit moving. He called my daughter and told her that he thought Faith was dead. My daughter called me and I rushed home to see what was happening. Faith had not died, but she was in the processes of doing so. As I did after the bee sting, I scooped her up and rushed to the vet’s office; but this time my vet was closed and I had to hurry to another office. They whisked Faith out of my arms only to return a few minutes later telling me she had “passed out.” I saw how she was breathing. I saw that she couldn’t lift her head or stand on her own feet. She did not “pass out” she was actively dying.
They left Faith with me and I held her close. My father left the exam room. He couldn’t stay. Faith and I were alone. I sang to her. I told her I loved her. I thanked her for sharing her life with us and I thanked her for loving my father and bringing him out of his deep depression. The vet, whom I had not seen before, came into the room and told me it was time for me to stop crying and do what was right. He told me that it was time. He said Faith was suffering and it wasn’t about me it was about the dog.
I wanted to punch him in the throat but he was right. As much as I didn’t like his attitude, the situation was about Faith. I understood that more than he did. I told him I would not let her suffer. I had promised Faith long ago that I would not let her suffer and I wasn’t about to go back on my promise to her now. Her breathing was so labored and she couldn’t even hold her head up to look at me; I had to hold her head in my direction.
“Are you going to stay with her when we do this or are you going to leave?” the vet questioned.
“I’m not leaving her alone.”
He attempted several times to get the needle into her vein without success until he finally just delivered the deadly drug to her under her skin and told me it would take a little longer than the IV route.
I held her. I sang to her. I told her I loved her over and over again until she was gone. My Faith is dead; but her memory will last a lifetime. I love you Faith.