22 Apr

Charlie has a new bump. I’m 90% convinced it’s a fatty tumor and nothing to worry about, but I’m still a wreck. I’m trying to get a vet appointment for this weekend, get it aspirated, and make sure that it’s nothing to worry about. It’s up on his waist area on his left side.

During the last few months he’s grayed a lot. And developed some more warts. I think he’s up to 6 or 7.

It’s finally really hitting home that he’s going to die. And I’m crying already. I can’t bear the thought. I don’t mean to be such a downer, but he’s been with me for a little less than half of my entire life, and if I may say so, the important half.

My mom brought him home when I was 13. I had an isolated and somewhat neglectful childhood and he was truly my only friend for a very long time. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that he’s still truly my only friend (though Emma’s creeping up there too). We would spend all of our time together, in bed, under the sheets, in my room, playing silly games, learning tricks. I was so happy to have a friend, I was so happy to have someone who wanted to be with me and who wouldn’t leave me alone. So of course he developed Separation Anxiety, but the truth is that I did too. My heart still breaks a little every morning when I have to leave him, even if it has been years since he’s had trouble staying home alone. And every day when I come home I collapse on the floor and just take in every moment of his joy.

He’s always been so healthy, so fit, so trim, such a huge part of who I am, that even though I intellectually knew that he’s mortal, and would die before I do, it never seemed real. But I’m looking at him now and he looks old to me for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t lost any of his spunk. This past weekend he went after a flock of turkeys and gave me a scare (I lost sight of him for a few minutes) and earlier today he learned how to jump into my arms on cue. We read each other so well, I know what he’ll do before he thinks it, and he can read my mind as well. I know every crevice of his body, I look him over constantly, the instant something changes I can feel it as though it were my own body. Every day I check all his toes, look in his mouth, sift through his fur, peek into his ears, and make sure I scratch all the right places.

I’m actually a little worried about myself and what I’ll go through when he does pass away. I don’t want to think about it, but it will be a very scary time.

Five or six years ago when in my mother’s care before he was neutered, he mated with a little white dog who lived in a building near us. She had several puppies (I was and still am appalled by this, I’m disgusted to think where some of them may have ended up). I’ve been struck by the idea of tracking down the mother’s owners and see if there are any of Charlie’s puppies or grandpuppies (I’m sure they didn’t stop breeding) that might need a home. Heck, I’ll take them all. If I had the money I’d probably look into cloning.

But then I wonder if in fact I really do need to learn how to let go of him at some point. And then I look at him and break down again. I’m trying so hard to burn every memory into my brain so I’ll never forget him. I’m taking so many pictures, so many videos.

But what do I know, he might live another ten years.

I found some old photos I’d like to share with you.

Charlie at about 3 months old when he learned how to jump through a hula hoop. In the same week he learned sit, down, roll over, play dead, stay, come, paw, and unfortunately, bark. The vet told me I should wait until he was older to train because he wouldn't remember anything. We showed him.

That's how we lived - together in my room amongst mess.

The date is incorrect. This was on his first birthday. I baked him a cake and spent the whole day with him.

Charlie's first birthday cake. I got him to blow out the candle by barking at it.

Poodle love. He makes a much better friend than his stuffed predecessor.

I was a teenaged girl with a Poodle. Of course I was going to dress him up! I remember that was the summer he lost all his baby teeth. I tried saving some but they've been lost over the years.

And that's the lump of doom on the right side. Can you see the bulge?

Just for kicks. A photo of my bathroom bodyguards. You know, in case the toilet troll comes out to get me. Without fail, anytime I enter the dreaded room of water doom, they follow. Charlie's the most faithful. Tigress only comes in the morning when she's hungry, and Emma makes an appearance twice a month on average (when she's awake and realizes she's alone).

Last weekend's hiking trip. Can you see NYC in the bakground?

9 Responses to “Charlie”

  1. Fiona (and Abby the Hippobottomus) April 22, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    *hugs* I know exactly how you feel. I didn’t grow up with TaiChi – I married into her (and still tell my husband that she is the reason I married him!), and she was My Baby. My sweetheart. When I met her, she was 13, and quite spry and active. Frankly, I was thankful I got as much time with her as I did. For years she developed warts and lumps and bumps, and we checked out every one; a couple were removed, and then she got too old to be put under anesthesia, and we just lucked out with the later lumps and bumps. We lost her over a year ago (at 20), and I still miss her. I love my two girls now, and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but TaiChi will always hold a special place in my heart – just like Charlie does for you. He will pass before you, but you’ll never lose him. You’ll cry (hell, sometimes I still cry because I miss my little girl), but you’ve got so many good memories of Charlie that when the time comes, you’ll have so much to remember him by. Not that any of that makes it any easier. But Charlie may surprise you – poodles are tough beasties. *hugs again*

    -Dr. Liz

  2. houndstooth4 April 22, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    I’m sorry! I’ve actually been though losing my heart dog, and it was a difficult and painful experience, but also a growing experience for me. I learned a lot about myself through the grieving process. I was blessed to have shared my life with her, and if she hadn’t passed away, I wouldn’t have Bunny now. I also saw what she was going through, and that made it easier to let her go. Charlie may surprise you, though, and live to be an old man!

  3. Kari April 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    It really is sad when reality strikes and you realize that the pups you love will be gone someday 😦


  4. jan April 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    My dogs have had so many fatty tumors that I can’t count them, but it always is so great when the vet gives you the good news.

    I’ve also lost a lot of old dogs who had lived wonderful lives and at some time it is time to let them go. It hurts so much, even years later I can remember a dog from the past and tears will come to my eyes. But it is important to remember the great times, not the heartbreak.

  5. Mayzie April 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    MayzieMom here. Oh, Ettel, I wish I could just give you a hug. I know exactly what you mean and the thought of losing any of my pets is almost too much to bear, but especially Mayzie. My heart cat Annabelle passed away about 12 years ago and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. It was the equivalent of losing a human family member. I was sick and sad for months. I don’t think you ever get over it but eventually the tears do turn to smiles when you remember them. Some of the best and funniest stories I have revolve around Annabelle and it gives me great pleasure to share them with others.

    The pain we go through when we lose them is the price we pay for giving our hearts so completely to beings we know we’ll outlive. But the alternative – never having had them in our lives – is far, far worse.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing. Enjoy every single moment with all of them.

    By the way, I LOVED all the pictures. But my two faves were Charlie in the poodle skirt (ha!) and the three of them in the bathroom. Just too wonderful for words.

  6. Cherie April 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Those are great pictures of your “babies”.
    When we found out our sweet dog Caleb had bone cancer and were told he may make it for three more months , whcih he did, I must have taken a gizilli0n pictures of him and told him I loved him about every 5 mins. I am grateful that I knew we had a short time so that I could take the time to tell him how much we cared.
    Hopefully this is just a fatty tumor and you will have him sharing your life for many more years.

  7. Kristine April 25, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I hope you are right and Charlie is okay. I worry over every little bump and scratch on Shiva, declaring it is the end of the world. Fortunately, despite her tendency to leap off of tall buildings in a single bound, so far we have avoided emergency vet visits.

    *hugs* The hardest part about owning a pet is knowing the happiness won’t last forever. Eventually we will have to say goodbye. Know that you are not alone and that it is okay to take time to grieve as much as you need. It’s so HARD and nothing will make it easier. Blogging at least will help preseve some of the little memories we may otherwise forget.

    Take care of yourself and your furry ones!

  8. theobvious April 26, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Hi, I got the link to your blog from my mom, who’s friends with yours, and just came here to say how much I admire what you’re doing. It’s always heartbreaking to say goodbye to a beloved friend, and this may not be the time for you to do it yet, but you are right in trying to prepare. And as everyone is saying, as much as it may hurt, it is important to focus on all the great memories you have together (I bet Charlie’s fabulous dress is in some of them!). My thoughts go out to you and all of your lovely pets.

  9. Brooke Lowry April 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Oh, Ettel, how well I know what you are feeling, and I wish I could give you a big hug right now. I also wish I could assure you that the lump is nothing to worry about, and that Charlie will live another thousand years. Unfortunately I can’t do that, either. All I can tell you is that worrying about what might happen won’t change anything, and will only rob you of the joy you should rightfully feel in Charlie’s company right now. Not that you can help it, I know. As I said, I’ve been there, and I know. I’ve obsessed over each little graying hair, each slowing step, mourned the loss of keen ears and eyes monitoring my every movement, cursed the arthritis that crippled once strong limbs that kept my boy from rising in joy to greet me at the end of the day. It is a bitter pill to swallow, for sure, but the only way to avoid the bitter is to forgo the sweet, and that’s no way to live, either. Love Charlie fiercely and rejoice in his love for you. Take joy and comfort in his presence, and delight in all the things that make him uniquely himself. Care for him as devotedly and well as you possibly can. And when it is time, hopefully many many years from now, to let him go, send him on his way with love and thanks for all the lessons he taught you, and all the wonderful things he brought to your life. And then pick up the pieces of your broken heart, and find a way to go on.

    Blessings on all of you!

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