I shared earlier this week about the brutiful passing of Liv Loo’s dog Oreo. All I will add to that traumatic tale is that grief is definitely a process. His loss is felt by everyone in our home. The other morning I came home from carpool and I was completely alone in the house for probably the first time in almost 10 years. And it was really weird. I was the only living being in the house and I could feel it.
Let me be clear: I AM NOT A DOG PERSON. But Liv Loo, Sophalopes and Popey are. In fact, most of the time I am fairly certain that they liked the dog more than me. Just sayin’.
At dinner the other night I noticed that Popey was moving the extra fat from his corned beef to the edge of his plate. Towards the end of the meal he realized he didn’t have his four-legged buddy to share the scraps with. Then it dawned on him that he had eaten his entire meal without Oreo’s tail beating him in the leg as he happily waited for the scraps. It was sad.
While I AM NOT A DOG PERSON, I do appreciate the joy that Oreo brought to my family. In particular, I am forever indebted to that little dog for the unconditional love he lavished on Liv Loo at some of the most difficult times of her life.
After Liv’s first hip surgery when she was 10 she spent two months in a wheel chair, unable to put ANY weight whatsoever on her right leg. Unfortunately, our house was not designed for the disabled. All the bedrooms and showers are upstairs and moving her up and down the stairs every day was too risky in our opinion. So the decision was made to have her stay at my parents’ home where everything was on one floor and someone could be with her all the time.
It was very difficult on all of us, but particularly on Liv Loo. She was very lonely and felt abandoned. In hind sight, well…of course she felt abandoned! But at the time, we were simply trying to make the best decisions we could that would hopefully result in her eventually being able to walk normally again. And now thankfully, she walks normally, with minimal pain. However, it came at great emotional cost.
During those two months of DON’T PUT ANY WEIGHT ON HER RIGHT LEG WHATSOEVER, two close relatives (they shall remain nameless) decided that what Liv Loo needed was a dog. She had been asking for one for a long time, but I felt like we had enough on our plate raising three kids, two jobs, piano lessons, karate, church and Popey back in college That was even before Liv’s diagnosis. Who had time for a dog?
The minute they ‘surprised’ us with the dog all I could think was, “I need this like I need a hole in the head. They are giving her a dog, but how the heck is this wheel chair bound kid supposed to take care of a dog????” That was one of the most overwhelming moments of my life. I AM NOT A DOG PERSON. And at that moment I became THE MOTHER OF A DISABLED CHILD WITH A DOG! I really almost lost it right then.
However, I was not the only one in the story. My daughter needed the unconditional love and affection she got from that puppy almost as much as she needed water or food. And so God loved on her, in spite of me.
Every night while she recuperated at my parents’ home my Mom would come home from work and she would push Liv Loo around the block in her wheel chair so Liv could ‘walk’ Oreo. Usually Oreo’s short legs gave out on the first half of the block and he would ride on Liv’s lap in the wheel chair the rest of the way. He watched tv with her. He played video games with her. He sat with her. He loved her.
Once she and Oreo came home Sophalopes quickly adopted him as her own. Against Liv’s wishes, and probably Oreo’s. Liv and Soph were still fighting over him until the day he made his last trip to the vet.
One of my favorite memories is when Soph was about five or six. I was sitting in bed one night reading and Oreo came flying up the stairs. He was moving so fast that it didn’t even look like his feet were touching the ground. He flew up under my bed and barely came to a stop when I saw Soph coming up the stairs. She was clutching her favorite blanky (the blanky’s name was Bob – another story for another day) in one arm and she had one of her doll’s roller skates in the other. Apparently she had been trying to put them on Oreo.
Soph carried him around like a purse. She painted his nails. She sat him in her doll stroller, strapped him in like a baby and pushed him around the house. But when Olivia came home, he knew who he belonged to. He was all hers.
So I would just like to say thank you Oreo for loving my family well. You brought joy to the Dog Lovers in this house. And for those of us who aren’t Dog Lovers, thank you for putting up with us and trying your hardest to win us over.
And thank You Father for knowing that I only see in part, even on my best day. Thank You for loving my children better than I ever could. Thank You that sometimes Your Love comes wrapped in fur at what seems like the worst possible time.