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Our Own Sophie’s Choice

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When Alex got his puppy Asher I made it clear to everyone, especially to myself, that this was not my dog. I griped about him, even as I l went home three times a day to check on him. Even as we built him a fence in the back yard so he would have lots of room to play, and run around and be a happy little puppy. I apologized when I called my sisters and asked them to please come over and visit Asher so he wouldn’t be lonely during the day because after all, he is very much a people-person dog. Asher Xmas card.jpg In the morning as I drank my coffee and tried to read the paper while Asher nipped my leg for attention, or when he stopped eating his breakfast and came over for some hugs and love before he finished, I told him (in baby-talk of course), “Don’t think that just because you’re the cutest little puppy in the world that means I’ll miss you if we ever give you away!” That was the biggest lie I ever told. Last Friday Alex took Asher over to his girl friend’s house. About 9:45 Alex called and said Asher had fallen down while they were walking, and his tooth went through his lip. He was bleeding and they took him to the breeder's house. She said that mouth wounds bleed and Asher would probably be OK. About 15 minutes later Alex called back and said they were taking Asher to the emergency vet clinic and to meet him there. You know, the same place we were two weeks earlier. When I got there I was beyond shocked when I saw the amount of blood covering the kids and their clothes. They looked liked they had been stabbed. Alex was wearing borrowed clothes because his own had become too blood soaked to wear. What on earth? What now with this dog? I muttered to myself as I signed the paperwork guaranteeing I would pay the $500, at least, and the DNR papers, etc. The rest of the night passes in a horrific blur. The vet came out to tell us that Asher had lost a tremendous amount of blood and was in shock. His tooth had punctured the only artery in his tongue and it wasn’t clotting. She asked if the puppy could have eaten rat poison. Rat poison? We just moved into the house and I didn’t put any anywhere. Then we recalled on Tuesday we came home and found Asher under the deck. We thought it was funny he squeezed under there to hang out when his comfy crate was on the top of the deck. If that’s where he got into it, it had to be under there. The vet called us into the consultation room and gave us the news. It was one of the suckiest moments of my life and probably Alex’s too as she said that Asher required a transfusion, was in critical condition and was basically bleeding to death. She rattled off a bunch of numbers about his blood levels being half of what they were supposed to be, his temperature was dropping, blah, blah, blah. Then she asked what we wanted to do. “Do? How much is our decision going to cost?” About $1,800 just for the critical care and the first transfusion. Then of course we don’t know, maybe another transfusion, hundreds of dollars more, don’t know what his outcome will ultimately be. I wanted to throw-up, I wanted to melt in the floor, I was sure I was going to hell at this moment as I turned to Alex and told him, “I can not pay for this, Alex. I’m still recouping from the last visit. What do you want to do?” How could I ask a 15-year-old to make that decision when I can’t even make it myself? After much agonizing deliberation, we sobbed as we told the vet to put Asher down. Then the vet starts babbling about how we could put his body in the landfill, and more blah, blah, blah. “For god’s sake,” I thought. “How do you drive home with your dead puppy’s body?” Then the vet said. “Or you could pay for his care up to this point which is just over $600 and sign him over for adoption.” Why the hell didn’t she say that in the first freaking place? We went in to see Asher and to say good-bye. That sweet puppy raised his head and looked at us with those beautiful brown eyes as if to say he understood. I paid the bill and we left knowing we wouldn’t have Asher but hopefully somebody would.
Asher sleeping.jpg
It sucked. It sucked. It sucked. It sucked. Alex was silent on the way home. I began to tell him how sorry I was. “Just don’t say anything mom. I know it’s not your fault but I don’t want you to say anything.” I sobbed all night. He wasn’t my dog you know, and I wasn’t going to miss him. I was sorry for Alex. Yeah. Alex got up early the next morning. “Mom, can we get him back?” “I don’t know honey but we can try.” I called the clinic. Well, once you sign a puppy over you can get him back if nobody else has adopted him yet, and you pay for his care which by now was multiple thousands. Did I mention how much this sucked? The vet called early Saturday to say that Asher had his transfusion and was resting comfortably. He was still critical, but still alive. Saturday afternoon the clinic called to get some info about Asher for his adoption and said he was due for another blood test in a while which ultimately showed he was still bleeding internally. I didn’t have the guts to call for an update on Sunday so I asked Rick to call. The clinic told him that Saturday night, after a second transfusion, he still wasn’t doing well and they had decided to put him down after all. But one of the employees at the clinic said she would foot the bill for a third transfusion if they would let her adopt him. Which I guess they did, and she did. What? How do you reconcile this? She gets to pay for just the transfusion and gets to keep my dog? I mean Alex’s dog? How come I don’t get that choice? I’m out over $2,000 in the three weeks we had this dog and Alex has no dog at the end of it? How come she gets to see Asher grow up and run trails with her? Or catch lacrosse balls? In God’s grand scheme of things does she need this dog more than Alex does? How come Alex waits ten years to get a puppy and only has him three weeks? Or should we just be grateful that Asher is still alive as far as we know? (I don’t have many good things to say about the alleged “caring and compassionate” treatment of people from this clinic, I must say, and I can give you those details if you want off-line.) It sucks. It sucks It sucks. I miss Alex’s dog. I can’t go out in the back yard because he’s not there. I refuse to vacuum or mop the floor because he was just there on it looking up at me with those brown eyes. I read the whole paper this morning without having to deal with the puppy and it sucked. Every time I open the pantry or the fridge (“It’s the land of food, Asher”, Alex would tell him) there is no puppy to scoot out of the way. The crate is still in Alex’s room and I can’t bring myself to look at it let alone do something with it. Alex has it covered with a blanket. I wish I had taken more pictures. I hope I can stop crying soon.
Asher on deck.jpg
As of now (Monday), Alex doesn’t know the rest of the story. He was at work all day Sunday and then went out with some friends. Rick is picking him up after school to tell him. I’m not supposed to be there because I’ll add too much emotion. Me? It’s not my dog. There’s a song that says only love can break your heart. They forgot to say it was puppy love.