My Dog Died.

15 09 2014

We had to put our dog Sheba to sleep yesterday.

I’m having a lot of feelings about it. It’s stupid that you can’t really mourn dogs the way you mourn people. I’d love to have a nice cry about it and go out for a drink and talk about her and talk to all my friends about how great my dog was and how much I miss her, but of course, you feel ridiculous because “it’s just a dog,” even when it’s not.

So I’m gonna write a few posts about it to process. I’m probably gonna write two. I might publish both or one or none. But I just need to deal with this a bit. I’m starting with what happened instead of how great she was and how much I loved her, because it was awful and horrible and I don’t want to end this mourning time of thinking what happened. I’d rather finish (tomorrow or whenever) reminiscing about how amazing she was. She was honestly the greatest dog ever. She was special. There might be a select few dogs out there who are as good as her, but there will never, ever be a dog that was better.

So. Sheba. Look at how beautiful she is.


For the past year or so (really, since I’ve been back from Prague) we’ve all been dealing with the fact that this awesome dog who’s been part of our family for the last 12 years won’t be with us much longer. She was 14, but she was remarkably healthy for a 14-year-old dog. Really the only thing wrong with her was some arthritis and weakness in her back legs and a bit of an issue with her nasal passages that made her breathing labored occasionally.

It was hard to see a dog who used to love going for long walks suddenly have trouble standing. She started slipping on stairs and having trouble standing up. It never held her back though, up until the end she still wanted to go for those long walks, play with our other dog, or chase the lawn mower. She’d often slip and fall trying to bound around the house like she was 10 years younger.

Last week, my parents went on vacation. Sheba’s breathing issues had been worse, but were improving. We didn’t want to put her in the kennel because she seemed to be recovering and we wanted her to be somewhere calmer. She loved going to the kennel — we called it “camp” — but we figured it would be better if she and her “sister,” Sasha, stayed home and I watched them. Looking back this was a bad idea.

We spent the week together going for walks, cuddling, and sharing popcorn (she used to sit near me, I’d throw pieces to her and she’d catch them in her mouth). She ADORES my mom, so she was pretty bummed that she wasn’t around, like usual, but by Friday she’d adjusted to the fact that I was taking care of her and the world wasn’t coming to an end. I’d been sleeping in my parents’ room to keep her company and that last night, she slept on my side of the bed, right next to me where I could reach down and pet her. We went for a walk that morning, just the two of us, since Sasha wouldn’t let me put a leash on her. We walked to the end of the street, less than half the distance she usually walked but further than she’d managed in a long time.

We came back and I let her outside on our deck. Our deck has two stories. We used to let the dogs go downstairs and go to the bathroom underneath the deck, but Sheba had been falling on the stairs a lot, so we blocked them so she wouldn’t fall. I was sitting inside enjoying coffee when I heard a lot of thunks and a yelp. My heart sank because I knew she’d fallen.

Somehow she had pushed the barrier to the side, gotten down the stairs, killed a rabbit that had gotten trapped under our deck, and fallen trying to bring her prize – a rabbit head – up to show me. Sheba has fallen before and usually after we sat with her for awhile and helped her get her legs back under her, she’d be okay. I sat on the step with her, petting and reassuring her, for close to 15 minutes before I tried to help. She weighed 70 pounds, so I tried to urge her to stand. Her back legs completely gave out and she fell again. She didn’t seem like she was in pain – after that first yelp she wasn’t whimpering and she let me touch her and wasn’t growling or even agitated. If it hadn’t been for the fact that we were sitting awkwardly on the steps underneath my deck, it could have been like we were just sitting together and cuddling. It didn’t SEEM like she was hurt, other than the fact that she couldn’t stand up. But somehow, I knew it was over.

I panicked. My parents had been fishing in Canada with most of their friends. Everybody left in my town who could help me was out of contact. I called the vet, who informed me that she was busy and there were no techs or anybody who could come help me. Sheba and I were trapped. I sat with her for almost an hour waiting to hear from somebody who could help me – the vet said she’d call me back, my parents came back in cell phone range and were trying to track down someone who could help me. We just sat there, Sheba and I, keeping each other calm and breathing.

Sheba has always been able to sense people’s emotions really well. She was calm until I started to panic once I finally got my mom on the phone, at which point she became agitated until I soothed her and got myself under some measure of control. She could always tell when I was upset, and she would just sit with her head on my leg and let me pet her. She’d look at me with quiet understanding in her eyes. Sometimes I’d talk to her about my problems and I swear she understood me. I would see sadness in her eyes when I cried to her, and she’d nuzzle my hand like she was trying to say, “Hey, I’m here. Don’t be sad.”

I sat on that step, fighting tears, and Sheba shifted, just slightly, until her head rested against my knee. She looked up at me. Her eyes didn’t look that afraid. They didn’t look like they were in pain. They looked like she wanted me to be calm and pet her. Just like always.

Eventually a neighbor – one of my sister’s friends from childhood who grew up loving Sheba too – came running. We got Sheba up and to the van. I took her to the vet.

The vet took one look at her leg. Her femur was broken. Her hips were possibly damaged. Fixing it would require surgery. Wires and plates and braces. Surgery on a 14-year-old dog with breathing problems. Months of rehab for a dog whose two back legs couldn’t hold her before she broke one of them and messed up hips. It was unlikely we’d find a surgeon who would even attempt it.

It was over.

They carried Sheba into the office and put her in a crate. I tried to pet her through the bars, to reassure her one last time, but I couldn’t reach her. I was trying to keep myself under control while the vet told promised that nobody would do anything until my parents had gotten home and we’d talked to them. When I called my mom on the way home, she said we’d look into what we could do. She said it wasn’t over.

I knew it was over.

My parents got home Saturday night. Sunday we put the best dog anybody will ever have to sleep.

I was not anticipating being this upset.


Work Is Weird

4 09 2014

This probably isn’t news to anyone who’s been in the “real world” work force for more than, like, a year, but I’ve figured out that no one EVER reads emails. Even if they open them and reply to them, I don’t think anybody ever actually reads them.

Almost every time I send an email update about my job, I’ll start with the sentence, “We are on X far and this is what I found.” Nine times out of ten, the only response I’ll get is, “How far are we?”

I really want to be passive aggressive and respond like, “As I said in the first sentence of my last email, X.”

I’ve also asked questions before like, “Should I do A or B with this?” And the response will be, “Yes, do that.”


Lately none of my bosses seem to even be READING my updates. I feel like I’m just throwing nonsense out into the void.

I want to do an experiment to see how far they actually read into my emails (or if they read them at all). I’m REALLY tempted to start signing off with:

“My mother is a fish,”

Instead of:

Juuuuust to see if they actually notice. I’m betting they won’t. I don’t think I trust that assumption enough to actually make that bet though.