We lost a member of the family this week.
She was just a little mutt. We got her from S.A.F.E. late in 1990. About four months old, she was found near the auction in Clare with a sister, and taken to the shelter where her sibling was later adopted. Her time was running out, but a S.A.F.E. foster home gave her a reprieve and when one of those dedicated volunteers visited the office and told me about her, we rescued her. She was just a little bit of a thing with a broken tail, which looked like it might have been shut in a car door. For the first two weeks she was with us, she wouldn’t have anything to do with Jack at all. She was timid and for her whole life terrified of men in baseball caps so we figured she might have been abused.
We named her Squeek that because when we got her she looked and sounded just like a little pipsqueak.
She grew up to be 15 pounds of wiry fur that stood up on end and made her look just like a miniature lion if we let it get too long. And she was ferocious – at least she sounded that way when she “roared” at people she didn’t know. She could make your hair stand on end and your heart skip a beat when she did it too. She would bark so hard she would move her whole body backwards.
She scared some people. But, we knew it was just a cover and she was really faking it. She never snapped at, or bit anyone. In reality she was extremely shy and when the intruder actually came into the house she would hide under a chair near the door and continue to loudly voice her opinion until one of us, exasperated, would say, “Squeek shut up!” We started telling people she was our “barking chair.” Sooner or later she would usually come out, still growling, but wanting them to notice and pet her a little anyway.
That growling… we soon discovered it was her way of “talking” to us and sometimes if she really wanted something from us – usually a treat – she could just about yodel.
She could be stubborn. It took me a week to teach her to sit up and another week to master the “roll-over.” Once she knew it, she used it to let us know when she wanted something and if you asked her “What do you want,” or twirled your finger at her, she would perform the rollover and sit up combo so fast you could almost miss it. If that didn’t get her something, she would give you a repeat performance – again and again. She usually got exactly what she wanted before too long.
She was a great listener and soon learned to understand loads of our “words.” Mention the word “treat” or “Are you hungry?” and she appeared ready to perform. Say “bath” and she would disappear for hours. “There’s a squirrel out there,” made her just about crazy. “Do you wanna go?” brought her on the run, and in her earlier years, “going for a walk” really made her bounce. In the past couple of years, that phrase meant “go outside and wait for you to come back…”
She and her buddy Peanut both loved camping almost as much as we do. As soon as we started getting ready to go, they would both wait right by the door and if they got the chance, get right into the vehicle and refuse to get out just to make certain they weren’t going to be left home.
Ever wary of strangers, Squeek loved the whole family, especially Alea and I. At home, whatever room I was in, she would be there too. If Alea came over, she would follow her everywhere. She also had a strange affection for son-in-law Terry, who only likes “big” dogs. She would even climb up into his lap, despite the fact that he would push her away every single time. She was persistent though and eventually he would give in and pet her a bit.
She slept on the foot of our bed, jumping up until this year, when she just couldn’t do it anymore. She scorned the set of “doggy steps” there for Peanut’s use, but after another patient week of training, she finally decided to use them. Once “we” were in bed, that’s where she stayed, my guard dog for the night. Jack would come home from work at midnight to be met by Peanut (who always expects a treat when he arrives) and then he would have to bring one to Squeek to eat in bed because she wouldn’t leave me even to welcome him home.
Her illness, diagnosed Monday as a failing heart, pneumonia and the onset of diabetes, seemed to come on suddenly – over the weekend while we were at the camper, although our Vet, Dr. McNeilly said she had probably been sick for some time. “These little dogs are good at hiding it,” he said Monday.
We realized there wasn’t anything we could do to make her well again. The decision we made was a hard one.
Even in her last moments, so ill she could barely breathe; she was worried about me because I was crying.
She wasn’t just a dog – she was family.