Lately she could not walk very far without just about falling over; heck sometimes she could not take more than a few steps with trembling and having a hard time at it. She would get up in the middle of the night and pace though, incessantly back and forth to her water bowl; and if there was water she would drink every last drop of as if parched from a trek through the Sahara and having finally found an oasis. Other times she would just stare as if out into space pondering the depths of the universe, and while chances were she was just staring at a wall instead of looking out to the heavens - who knows what she saw. At those times when she seemingly was spaced out, she had to be called over and over again before she heard me or saw me motioning to her; and while I don't know for sure where she was then, I like to think it must have been a glimpse of heaven she was seeing. She was old and frail, had a tumor the size of a baseball (had it for many years too), and had many other semi-crippling afflictions.
She was not always that way our Sprocket. She was named Sprocket after a character on the show Fraggle Rock (a favorite show not only of Celina and Brendan, but also of mama and papa). Later on we nicknamed her Sprocket The Rocket and for good reason. She was the fastest mutt I have ever seen, and once she kicked in the afterburners she just kept going. I think if allowed to she could have run for miles. In fact she may have done so more than once at Uncle David, Tante Marlene and my nephew Daniel's place while chasing their dog Milo, or their friend's dog Rudy, two of her canine pals, through the big (really big) backyard. Had she been a real rocket, she would have been a wonder of scientific technology because not only was she fast, and tight in the corners, but she loved the water. When we first got her, I used to take her on long walks to a pretty remote spot (imagine a remote spot in New York City - well there are more than a few relatively speaking). I was trying to break her of some bad habits, and trying to train her to act okay when off the leash. I had her off the leash and she was responding to my commands just fine that day so many years ago, heeling like the best of trained dogs. Then suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks, her ears went up, her brow furrowed, her tail went out, she was as alert as I had ever seen her. I could not figure at what she was looking, but she was looking out over the sump pond in front of us. The next thing I knew she was airborne and then splash she was in the water loving every moment of it. A command or two and she was back at my side. She loved the water - imagine that an amphibious rocket! When we visited my sister and brother-in-law she used to put her paws in a water basin and splash like crazy, yes she loved the water. She loved her trips to my uncle's and aunt's farm too where she could run and swim and play with other dogs there as she pleased. It had the right name for people and dogs alike - Happy Times Farm, and Sprocket's visits there were always happy ones for her and for Celina and Brendan when they were together there.
She was also a loyal companion for Linda (my wife) and for Brendan and Celina (our children). The kids grew up with her at their sides, and Linda was faithful in caring for her taking her for long walks each and every day without fail. I walked her too, but nowhere near as much as did Linda - they were quite the pair those two. In return, Sprocket was protective of the family. At times almost to a fault, and was sometimes nippy of our guests. As some time went by she pretty much dropped her habit of barking and nipping at everyone who visited us first in our apartment, then in our house. She grew accustomed to family and most friends and accepted them all as part of the pack. Still though, with a few people who were friends of the family, she never quite got over whatever joy it was for her to give them a scare - you know who you are Kyle and Laura!
She was that way with other dogs too at first, and it took a long time to get her to be decent with other dogs when we went out for walks; scars on her legs probably proof of a dog fight or three. She wound up getting along fine with Milo and Rudy though, and later on with Onkel Raymond and Tante Lorraine's dogs, and also with Onkel Alex's dogs. She also got along great with Cody our cat. Cody had come to us as an adoption from our neighbor who had moved away and could not take her two cats. We took the saner one, and my wife never let me live down the fact that when asked if we wanted him I said it was up to her. How could she turn down her best friend's request? They were pals those two until Cody left us last year.
Sprocket had other buddies with four legs. When we got Hexi, our mini dachshund, well Sprocket did not know what to do at first with such a little and young pooch. Yet Hexi, with her magic, was able to turn Sprocket into a playful pal in almost no time. Later on when Pepe joined the pack, Sprocket was a lot older, and less playful, but she accepted him pretty much right away, and she often took pleasure it seemed in watching Hexi and Pepe romp in the living room or backyard. What a pack, 4 humans, three dogs, and a cat.
Sprocket, like Cody, also came to us as an adult through an adoption, but a totally unexpected one, at least for me. We had just had to get rid of another dog we had adopted that was vicious and that had attacked both of our kids. That was tough, because the getting rid of part was permanent. Well, not too long after that, in fact sooner than I had expected, since Linda had said no more dogs until Brendan was older - there was Sprocket when I came home from wherever it was I had been. Uncle Alex had brought her by. She had been adopted out at least a few times after her owner had passed away. It seems no one wanted to keep her. Well no one except for us. She grew on us quickly despite her bad habits, I guess because of her good ones. As I said already - she was one loyal family friend and Linda, Celina, Brendan and I loved her dearly. She was part of our pack, and we part of hers.
I have to admit, I was surprised maybe most of all how much Sprocket got along with Granny (my mom), or should I say how much Granny seemed to like Sprocket (she is not an animal lover); but that was Sprocket - lovable. Of course Onkel Alex and Onkel Hans (my other brothers-in-law) and Oma (my mother-in-law) loved her too. Onkel Raymond (my brother) and Lorraine his wife loved her as well, as did Marlene (my sister), David (her husband) and Daniel (their son). Aunt Glenese and Onkel Ken loved her too. Sprocket got along good with all of them. Did I mention, she was part of our pack, and we part of hers.
Sadly those days are over. Yesterday Linda and I took Sprocket to the vet for the last time; and we had her put down. It was one of the toughest things I have ever done, and Linda has done it twice now in the past 3 months because in January our little Hexi had to be put down due to paralysis and seizures. Hexi was only 7, pretty middle aged for a dog. Sprocket was the grand old dame, and as best we know she was around 18-20 years old. We had her for 14 or 15 of those years as far as I can remember. The vet to which we brought her actually has a living room type setup in which they euthanize pets. It was as Linda put it, more comfortable. I think she meant for her and for Sprocket, and I'll admit that during the 1/2 hour or so we spent in that room waiting together, Sprocket seemed at home. The folks there were all very nice, especially the vet who did the deed. She was truly interested in Sprocket and her afflictions, and I think had we left out a few of them, she would have recommended other than euthanasia. She seemed generally interested in what was best for Sprocket. Once we told her about all of Sprocket's problems - she was very understanding, and she agreed with us that this was best. I wonder, but do not judge, if knowing that made it easier for her to do. I suppose it must have been tough for her, and that it is tough each time she does it. It was quick though, and Sprocket never knew what was coming, nor felt a thing from what I could tell. The thought that kept going through my mind as we waited, and as she was leaving us, was that she had trusted us to care for her. I know for a fact it was tough if just for that one thought along, hell it was the toughest thing I have ever done - bringing her there and going through losing her - being responsible for it. I am sure it was even tougher for Linda - she loved Sprocket with her all; and I imagine she had a similar thought to mine yesterday as we waited for Sprocket to be taken from us.
We will all miss her. We all loved Sprocket dearly, and we will miss her the same. Linda sobbed all the way home, nothing I could say or do would console her, though I think she found some comfort in me. Celina was over yesterday and shed more than a few tears for her, and Brendan is pretty torn up too. I am sure that everyone who knew her will miss her. Onkel Alex was hit hard when I told him what we were going to do; and to him I can only say thanks for bringing Sprocket, and a lot of joy, into our lives. I don't know if there is anything I can say or do to help ease their loss, or mine, except maybe to say that Sprocket The Rocket was heaven bound in a flash, and mama and papa were there with her at the end. Now she is in a place with no pain, and with fields through which to leap and bound, and ponds in which to swim at her heart's desire. We miss you girl, and we loved you - but I sure don't have to tell you that because you knew it, it was evident in how you loved us.
Filled with sorrow,
A Festive Christmas Card
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