All Pets Go To Heaven, Puppets, Toobyandtheend©
The Duke of York and the Duchess of Manchester
My dog, Duchess, a Manchester terrier died a week before Christmas. I'm sitting here crying, as I write this story. Confronting my grief, letting it all out, makes me feel better to write about her. Since her breed came from Manchester, England and her name was Duchess, I used to call her the Duchess of Manchester because she was so elegant, regal, and stately. You can tell that I loved my dog. She was a real sweet and gentle dog, and I miss her.
She was a beautiful dog, with smooth. shiny, jet, black hair with mahogany markings on the legs her paws, the front of her chest, and over the eyes. She looked like a miniature Doberman Pinscher. She had a barrel chest that narrowed to a slim waistline, as if a fuselage on a jet plan, and long legs with big, erect ears that could hear a cat walking by the house in the snow. With her on watch, we didn't have a squirrel in our backyard, a rodent or pest in the basement, or an intruder in the house. The oversized, elephant like ears, could hear everything and she was always on duty sleeping with one eye open.
She was a high stepper, a circus dog, and a clown. The breeder told me that with her speed, agility, and intelligence she'd make the perfect obstacle course dog. Sometimes, when she was overly excited, trusting me to catch her, she leap from the floor into my arms to lick my face. She couldn't wait to greet me. She was a face licker from the time she was just a puppy. She made me so happy to know that she missed me, even when I just went outside to take out the trash. She made me feel that I didn't live alone.
"It's okay. I'm back. I just went to take out the trash," I'd say talking to my dog, as if she was a toddler. Surprisingly, she understood more than I thought she could.
I miss the way she looked at me. It's funny how most animals avoid making eye contact, but dogs and cats don't. Cats just stare at you, but dogs look at you with human like expression. They'll look right at you, as if they can see into your soul, that is, until you reward them with a treat.
"What is it? You wanna go out? You want a cookie? Is Timmy in trouble, Lassie?"
She loved to run and, with her long legs, was very fast. Even though she was only18 pounds, she thought she was a big dog. Fearless, I now understand why they named the breed terriers. Sometimes a ferocious breed, they can be little terrors. Most times, she was a sweetie.
A pedigree that was recognized by the AKC and the UKC, she was a good dog, but she was more than just a dog to me. She was my best friend, my buddy, and my pal. She was a lap dog and would curl up next to me on the couch. Since she had little fur, more smooth hair instead, she got cold and loved it when I covered her with a blanket. She could stay like that for hours and as soon as I got up, she'd follow me, as if she was my shadow or my bodyguard.
When everyone else rejected me, namely men, she was there to share a bowl of ice cream with me. Then, I'd leash her up and we'd go to the dog park. Walking through the park, bonding with nature with all the sights and sounds, always made me feel better. She'd run as fast as she could, until she was nearly out of sight and just with a whistle, she come running back to me at the same high rate of speed. In the way she tucked everything in, put her big ears back, and stayed so low to the ground with her four legs fully extended, I could have named her bullet. Always looking to see where I was, she knew enough never to go too far away from me.
Trust me, when walking through the dog park, going to the club, or joining an online dating service, it's easier to find a replacement man than it is to find a replacement dog at the pet store, the dog pound, or the breeder. Dogs are way more trusting and loyal than men. Moreover, unlike me, sometimes, by their instincts, dogs can tell a bad man from a good one with just a sniff. Maybe that's where I went wrong. I should have sniffed my ex-boyfriend, before I jumped in bed with him. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the natural born instincts we all have, but oftentimes ignore.
"Hey, gorgeous. Can I buy you a drink?"
"No thanks. I don't like the smell of you. Matter of fact, on second whiff, you smell married."
Duchess didn't like my last boyfriend. She growled at him a lot, as if she knew something that I didn't. Maybe I should have growled at my ex-boyfriend, too. Maybe had I growled at my boyfriend that would have stopped him from cheating on me. We can learn a lot from dogs and from our pets. I'd say that men are more like dirty dogs than they are real men, but I'd be insulting dogs.
That was the reaction that men had, when they saw Duchess.
"Are you talking about me or my dog?" I always said with a laugh, my icebreaker with a cute guy, whenever they paid more attention to my dog, than to me.
"Both," They'd always say and we'd walk the park with our dogs, while learning more about one another.
Better than online dating, sometimes meeting someone at the dog park is better than meeting someone at a bar or a club. There they are in front of you in bright sunlight. Unable to mask themselves with cologne and nice clothes, most guys wear jeans and a sweatshirt at the park. Alone with their dogs, especially when watching them playing with and interacting with their animals from afar, you get to see the real person without all the pretense getting in the way.
For me, the dog park was my barometer to finding a good and kind man. I don't trust people who don't have a pet or like people who don't like animals. C'mon, really, how could you not love a cat, a dog, a bird, or a horse?
Now, that Duchess is gone, I don't have a dog to take to the dog park, a place I went every day. She was my reason to walk daily for exercise and to clear my head of all the minutia that weighed me down. I had that dog for thirteen wonderful years and she was as lively her last day as she was her first day, as a puppy. I'm embarrassed to say, but she slept in my bed, down at the bottom, and under the covers. She was my first alert to danger, whether it was an intruder, a pest, or a fire. I really miss her.
"What is it Duchess? Go get him!"
When it was her time to go, she went downhill so fast, as if she aged overnight. She was in pain. She was suffering. She started curling up in places, corners of the house, she never went before and she wouldn't come when I called her. Every day, I'd have to hunt to find her sleeping in the cellar, in a closet, behind the couch, beneath the chair, or under my bed. Her weird and disturbing behavior told me she was looking for a place to die. Then, when she stopped eating, wouldn't even eat a cookie, her favorite treat, sadly, it was time.
I knew the inevitable, when I found one of her bloodied teeth on the floor and I started crying. I still have her tooth. I washed it, wrapped it in tissue, preserved it in a plastic baggy, and placed it under my pillow, my way of keeping her with me, when I sleep and I carry it around with me in my pocket, when I go out. Always there by my side, having her tooth with me is my way to pretend I'm still walking her. Knowing she's there in spirit, not unlike an American Indian wearing a feather of an eagle, I feel better fingering the plastic bag, while walking through the mall or out to my car.
I haven't stopped crying since I knew it was time to take her to the vet. I had to do it myself. I didn't want anyone else take my dog for me and I didn't want anyone else there interfering with how I felt and detracting me from my thoughts for my dog. I wanted to say good-bye to her, my loyal, little friend and she looked at me for the last time, as if she knew. I held her paw, as the vet stuck her with the needle and, poof, she was gone, just like that and just so fast. Her pain was over and now she's in Heaven.
It made me feel better to think that Duchess was in Heaven waiting for me, when I die. After some of the hardships, we all have suffered and endured here on Earth, with Earth sometimes feeling like Hell and us thinking that there is no God for him or her to turn his or her back on our personal pain and suffering sorrow, we all hope there's a Heaven and a loving God. For those monsters who didn't receive their deserved punishment on Earth, we hope there's a Hell, too. Just as I hope those who have abused animals, such as the infamous quarterback, Michael Vick, burn in Hell for all the dogs he tortured, abused, and killed, it makes me feel better to think that my Duchess is in Heaven waiting for me.
I put on the movie, A Christmas Carol, in the DVD player, not the original, but the one made twenty years later with Albert Finney. Watching that movie always makes me feel better, sort of in the same way that the traditional Christmas movie, It's A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, always makes me cry at the end and the Wizard of Oz makes me happy. There's nothing like watching a classic movie to lift my spirits.
Only, this time, when I went to bed without feeling Duchess's warmth by my feet, after watching A Christmas Carol, I had a dream. Scrooge transported me not to the past, the present, and the future, but to Heaven. Maybe having her tooth under my pillow inspired my dream, but Duchess, instead of Charles Dickens, was in my dream and we were both in Heaven. Matter of fact, all the dogs I ever had were with me, there was Buster, my Beagle, and Brandy, the mutt I got from the pound, who ran out in front of a car, and little Roxy, my Min Pin, Miniature Pinscher. She was a high maintenance dog. For such a little dog, that dog had attitude.
Then, when I looked beyond my dogs, as if a cloud of enlightenment cleared for me to see, there were all these people, millions of them, with their pets, men, women, and children, young and old. I saw Roy Rogers with Trigger, Gene Autry with Champion, the Lone Ranger with Silver, Wilbur Post with Mr. Ed, Timmy with Lassie, Lieutenant Rip Masters with Rin Tin Tin, Alice with her Cheshire cat, Dorothy with Toto, Sandy Ricks with Flipper, and even Michael Jackson was there with his pet monkey, Bubbles.
Jane walked with Cheetah, and Tarzan was surrounded by animals, lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, and giraffes, as if he was Noah, and lo and behold, Noah was there, too, with two of every animal. Wow! I couldn't believe it. It was surreal. It was beautiful and gratifying to know that I'd see my beloved pets again in Heaven. Now I truly believe that there really is a Heaven, a place where we meet our pets, again. How wonderful is that?
Then, I saw Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans with Bunny Rabbit and Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop. Buffalo Bob was there with Howdy Doody and Edgar Bergen was there with Mortimer Snerd and Charlie McCarthy. Jim Henson was there with all the Muppets and Fran Allison had Kukla, Fran, and Ollie with her. I guess they loved those puppets and dolls, as much as I loved my dog. It was gratifying to know that when we die, we're reunited with those we spent so much time with and loved so much, our devoted and beloved pets, and puppets, too.
Many of these people that I recognized were on TV before I was even born and some of them were already dead, before I was born, but with the magic of reruns and cable TV, they still live on in my television, in my mind, and in my heart, forever. Animal or inanimate object, it didn't matter. If it was something that you loved on Earth, it was there with you in Heaven. How cool is that?
Lawrence Welk walked around playing his accordion. Elvis was there sitting in the backseat of his pristine pink '59 Eldorado Cadillac playing his guitar and singing to his beloved mother, Gladys. Liberace was there resplendent with his candelabra playing his grand piano and cracking jokes, as was Will Rogers twirling his lariat, while giving his humorous opinions on current events. President Kennedy was kissing Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol was surrounded by Campbell soup cans.
Only, when I awakened, I knew it was all a dream. Even though I temporarily felt better, I knew that my Duchess was still dead, and I was so sad all over again. Yet, I saw Duchess again for one last time and I knew she was in Heaven waiting for me. In the way that I remember her, she looked so happy and healthy.
My dream felt so real. Now that I'm alone with my reality of not having my dog here with me, for sure, this was going to be the worst Christmas I ever had. I didn't even want to celebrate Christmas. I didn't want to buy a tree, shop for gifts, or even wrap them, but I did. Life doesn't stop, just because my dog died. Yet, I felt as if it hadd and I felt as if I lost my soul, when I lost my Duchess.
Christmas morning, as if coming down from Heaven, I heard Christmas music. I hear the song Jingle Bells playing from downstairs. Someone was in my house. I pulled myself out of bed and, as soon as I walked downstairs, waiting for me to awaken was my Mom and my Dad, and my best friend, Linda, and her husband, Mike. I wondered what they were all doing in my house. My parents told me they let themselves in and when they escorted me out to the living room, there under the tree was a Yorkshire terrier.
"Oh, my God."
He was the cutest thing ever. Immediately, I named him, Duke, the Duke of York. I was so happy. Now, when I die, I'll be in Heaven with royalty, the Duchess of Manchester and the Duke of York. How perfect is that?
For those of you who have lost a pet, whether it's a cat, a dog, a bird, a fish, a snake, a horse, or a turtle, write the name and the kind of pet you had below and maybe these well wishes will go to Heaven.