Fifteen years ago, we brought home a small white Puppy with one ear that didn’t stand up straight. Ace was a West Highland Terrier and he was the alpha of the pack. Our daughters were 4 & 7 and after living with multiple sclerosis for years, I’d developed ulcerative colitis that left me with high fevers, stool running down my legs and few good hours in a day. I desperately wanted to help them feel like we were a “normal” family and I thought this guy could do it for us.
I’d never had a dog and soon learned it wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. After two years, he still peed in the house when you least expected it, barked uncontrollably when the UPS truck drove by and ran out the door even though you told him not to. He hated being walked on a leash (we called it taking him for a drag) and, even worse for the girls, wouldn’t sit on your lap to be cuddled.
But we loved him. As my father-in-law said, “He had lots of personality”. He played in the snow, ran after the soccerball and would sit at your feet for hours. When you talked to him, he nodded in agreement. He slept in my oldest daughter’s bed until she went to college and then slept with the younger one. He was always near by and, as he got older, he indeed got mellower (not unlike many people I know). We loved him so much that we got a second dog after a few years and have had two ever since. Having dogs has absolutely brought an energy and positive spirit when we most needed it.
As the years have gone on, Ace has had his share of vet bills – broken legs, warts and teeth. But he’d been relatively healthy – until these past six months. And then it all started to collapse. He never told us how it felt but you could see it in his eyes. There were days when we’d walk and I had the feeling that his feet must hurt him as much as mine hurt me. Maybe I was imagining it but I could almost hear him say,” this isn’t fun”.
This past weekend both girls came home and our friend, Jake, the vet, euthanized him. We all held him, gave him an injection to sleep, and then ACe stopped breathing. We cried and knew he’d had a good life with us.
It’s a lot of work having a dog (and even more having two) but it reminds me everyday that no matter how I feel, I can still take care of another being and get love and even loyalty in return. It’s a wonderful feeling. Thanks, Ace, for bringing “normal” to our chaotic lives.