Sad to report that Mitzi the Wonder Dog is no longer with us…I will miss her and am feeling especially bad for my mother. It is said “This too shall pass” and today, it was Mitzi’s time to make the transition.
I remember when Mom made the decision to adopt a dog after my father passed away. Mitzi had been found in a rather affluent area running loose on the street and didn’t have any identification nor was there a microchip in place. After a period of waiting for an owner to come forward, Mitzi was offered for adoption.
Well, Mom was on the lookout for a small dog and first picked out a little Yorkie…but alas, when the Veterinarian went to spay the doggie, it was found to have ovarian cancer…so Mom passed on it as she knew that it was sick and needed very ongoing expensive treatment. The good news was that the attending vet decided to adopt that little dog, so it went to someone that could give it the care it needed. So, as Mom had already paid all the fees…she was owed a dog. And Mom requested that they call her if a “toy” version of a dog showed up. And that is how Mom and Mitzi met.
Mom got the call that there was an approximately 3 year old Shih Tsu that had just come up for adoption and Mom high-tailed it over there…and knew instantly that this was her dog. Mitzi was brought out in a crate and was practically hanging from the roof as she was so upset about being in a cage…Mom whispered in her ear “You will never be in a cage again”, and Mom kept her word on that one. I would say “Mom, why doesn’t Mitzi have a carrier to take her to the vet?” and she would say “Mitzi will never be in a cage”. You see, when taking Mitz in the car, she would insist on sitting on a lap and this is dangerous when driving. But “no go” on any confinement of Mitzi–Aand she named her “Mitzi” after Mitzi Gaynor–as the little dog would dance on her hind legs and prance around.
I remember our surprise when Mom adopted Mitzi. We thought she was “over” getting attached to pets and then having to let them “go” eventually. But, after Dad died and she found Mitzi, Mom said “We needed each other”. And Mitzi came with some health issues and, also, was not 3 years old, but around 10. Bad teeth, gastro problems, finicky and wouldn’t eat, heart murmur, and cataracts…but about the sweetest, cutest, most mild mannered little dog you’d ever meet.
But when it’s “right”, it’s right and their bond was instantaneous and epic.
Mom lovingly cooked for Mitzi her daily rations of ground turkey mixed with chicken (the white meat, of course) and pampered her. And Mitzi had this “hero worship” thing going for Mom. And they became constant companions and inseparable. After I arrived here to share all the luxury of the manor at “Casa Plesha”, I would only be chosen to snuggle with Mitzi when Mom was out of the house. Mitzi craved human contact and didn’t like to be alone. As soon as Mom was pulling out of the garage…Mitzi would transfer to me and sit in on my “jam” sessions or, as she was wise, looked over to my computer screen as I was writing my stories on my blog. As she was inherently a genius, I knew she was thinking “that part needs more work, Shakespeare” or “don’t do that song…you suck” or “that is a run on sentence and make that singular, not plural…geez, already…why didn’t you go to college!”–but that’s also how sisters talk to each other…it’s just that Mitzi did it with her eyes…not unlike me.
And when Mom would return…OMG…one would think she was returning from war!! I was a nonentity then and Mitzi would be gone with the wind as she heard the vibrations of the garage door opening. But, we noticed a change in Mitzi’s behavior as of late. She wasn’t springing up as fast and more “ambled” over to greet Mom. And once, in the last week she didn’t even lift her head. As I have a “rep” for my keen observation abilities, I made a mental note of this and tucked it away for future reference should I be asked my opinion.
My mother raised 6 children and loves us all dearly (even the adopted ones…ahem…). But when raising 6 children, your attention can get a bit scattered due to the “numbers” game. Mitzi was her “only child” and enjoyed Mom’s lavished attention, loving caresses, and yes, the conversations that are had by the best of friends that shared each other’s secrets. And make no mistake on this count–Mitzi was a great listener with her human-like facial expressions and great listening skills. Mitz was also deep thinker and we are quite confident, infused with wisdom to impart behind those milky cataract encased eyes.
What were the chances that Mitzi would have to be put down while Mom was on a short trip to Chicago? But as Dad would say to me “Sometimes the right thing to do is not the easy thing to do”. Those words keep re sounding in my life somehow, and I heard that phrase again in the recesses of my memory as I signed the papers yesterday to have Mitzi be put out of her misery.
It was Mitzi’s “time” and I knew in my heart it was, but Mom had to be the one to make the call on that. Mitzi was in renal failure and the heart problems and anorexia were becoming more worrisome. She was constantly vomiting, having seizures, and starting to stumble. You could look in her eyes and see she was miserable. She could no longer get up on our beds and as it was just “us girls” on Mitzi’s last night on this earth. I wanted the proper send off, so Mitzi was featured in my most recent home music video. As I watched the vid play back on my computer screen, I couldn’t help but notice how ragged and listlessly limp Mitzi looked in my arms…and so very sad. But like her sis, Mitzi was a rocker chick to the end.
Last night, I carried her to bed with me…only to wake during the night and find her lying in the hallway next to a pile of vomit. Her eyes were open, but had lost the “light” behind them and appeared to have an expression of pleading. My heart was breaking for her as I carried her back to bed and cleaned up the mess. It was time.
Once “settled” snug as a bug next to me (with towels in place) I took a moment to ponder the meaning of all of this and where would my “sister” be at this time tomorrow? I truly believe in the theory that energy doesn’t disappear, but changes form. So Mitzi was destined to evolve into something as magnificent as her worldly version…minus the physical limitations and pain. I took comfort in this notion but at the same time…devastated for the earthly suffering that would occupy my mother’s heart. But I also knew that “this too shall pass”…but time, is what it would take.
I laid my hand across Mitzi’s side and felt her respirations and could both feel and even SEE how hard her heart was working. And I said a wishful prayer that she would go gently and feel my love and compassion, and also, my mother spiritually with her—comforting her and gently releasing her. For it is a mother’s job to know when it is time to “let go” and again, sometimes the right thing to do, isn’t the easy thing. Although I didn’t feel comfortable with this heavy task and I loved this precious doggie, my mother was in the forefront of my mind, and my heart ached for her supreme loss…and her pain in the days to come when she returned to our home.
And once again, I recalled another statement that my father made to me when I was so very sick a few years back and I didn’t want to continue with all the needles and hospitalizations. His comment was “Many years ago I made an investment in you and I haven’t gotten the proper return on my investment…you have no options but to do the right thing”–another phrase that keeps replaying in my head. And this “investment” was being called to the carpet to deliver dividends, so to speak and had to “buck” up and carry myself with the same dignity that my proud Croatian father would.
I was not alone as I met this challenge…Mom’s dear friend Claudia was in attendance…another Mitzi “fan” that always volunteered to care for Mitzi when Mom was travelling. I am grateful that Mitzi was surrounded in love and compassion, gentle pettings and soft whispers of “good girl…we love you, it’s alright, Mitz”. After she was sedated to relax her…I picked her up and held her like a baby over my shoulder and rocked her like I did with my own babies when they were sick, speaking in soft tones and stroking her on the side of her neck—which was a favorite spot for her. And she relaxed into me and sighed…and then urinated all over me. I knew this was a test of some sorts and I think I passed. As I don’t “test” well and, as a beauty school dropout I was certainly not qualified in such matters. I gently laid Mitzi down as she was properly sedated and fought my OCD urges to properly disinfect, and sought out the doctor…I was ready to face this next difficult step, but more importantly, I knew Mitzi was.
And right before she was put to sleep, I dialed Mom up and held my phone to Mitzi’s ear and Mom was able to tell her how much she loved her and will miss her forever…and thanks for the memories—which was a phrase Mom had sobbed in the past as she put other beloved pets to sleep when it was “time”.
I wasn’t sure if that whole phone “thing” would be too much for Mom, and didn’t know if it was the right thing to do, but Mom seemed eager to tell her best four-legged friend some things that needed to be said. There isn’t a handbook for this particular thing so I went with my stone-laden urine-soaked gut. I wanted Mom to have that closure. How often it is that we lose someone we care about and things are unsaid? I wasn’t going to rob my mother of that intimate moment as tragic as it was.
I want to thank Brown Road Animal Clinic in Mesa, Arizona for their professionalism, compassion, and treatment of both Mitzi and her loving family. And we look forward to seeing the fine folks there when we pick out a new puppy after we get back from Chicago in May.
Thanks for the memories, Mitz…Laku noc’…you will be greatly missed!
“All dogs go to heaven because, unlike people, dogs are naturally good and loyal and kind.”
~ quote from the movie “All Dogs Go To Heaven”