Earlier last week, I got the news that my mom’s dog, Brandie, had to be put to sleep. I took the news pretty hard. I spent hours over the Christmas holiday struggling with the reasons why it had happened, and tearing at myself for being unable to do anything to save her. It would have cost me thousands of dollars, my home, and my sanity, but it still felt as though I was letting her down by not rescuing her.
I remember the day my mom brought Brandie home. She came into my room with this furtive smile on her face, like she had a secret, put her hands into her jacket, and pulled out this ball of fur and put it on my bed. At 18 ounces, I was sure it was a hamster, and before I knew it, the thing had all but fallen into the 3-inch crack between my bed and the wall. It took several minutes for my mom to convince me this was a dog – a white Maltese we’d eventually come to call Brandie.
That night, Brandie ripped all around the house for a full hour. We thought about calling her white lightning. For a solid hour, this animal just RAN. And ran, and ran, and ran. And then, mid-leap, she just stopped. She fell onto her side and went to sleep. We were sure she’d died. We checked for breath. Checked for a heartbeat. Tried to get her to get up. She was having none of it. We let her rest, and within the next few weeks, we fell in love with this psychotic pile of poof.
We loved her even when she got her head stuck in an empty tissue box and knocked around the living room trying to get it off. We loved her even when she ate my stepbrother’s birth certificate. We even loved her when she chewed through the cord of my mom’s stereo, which, luckily, wasn’t plugged in at the time.
Brandie was a puppy farm puppy, and had problems from the start. When she was three or so, she stayed with me for a month while my mom was settling her new house in Florida. After a few days, she suffered acute renal failure and nearly died. My best friend Erica’s mom saved her life. We continue to be so grateful for that.
Brandie’s eyes never produced tears, and so, when my mom left her at the kennel last week when she went to Las Vegas to visit my brother and stepbrother for Christmas, the vet discovered she is 90% blind. The vet also discovered that she had four kidney stones the size of quarters that needed to be removed, that she had a bladder infection, an ear infection, and a bowel obstruction, among other things. He wanted to do a surgery to remove the kidney stones but wanted $2,000 up front from my mom before he would do it. He would not say that any of the other problems Brandie had were curable, and could not guarantee it would only be $2,000. He would not take partial payment.
My mom and Rudy and I cried and suffered to know that Brandie was suffering. I considered quitting my job, getting an apartment that allowed dogs, paying the $2,000, and doing whatever it took to make sure she had all the care she needed for all the things that would chronically be wrong with her. In the end, though, it was my mom’s decision and I respected it – it would be one thing to spend the money if Brandie would have a healthy life otherwise, but another if she would only continue to suffer. She and Rudy decided to put her to sleep.
This was very difficult for me to reconcile. I felt I had let her down. I felt I had let my mom down by letting her make that choice. And I was extremely pissed at the vet for being so insensitive and cruel.
My mom got home from Las Vegas today and went to the vet’s office to settle everything, only to find a bouncy white Maltese waiting to give Rudy tongue kisses for coming back.
Apparently the vet did have a heart. He went ahead and did the surgery on the pretense that my mom would pay for it in installments (in the end the surgery only cost $900, and he is letting her pay in monthly installments of $100). If she did not want to do that, he would screen other patients to find a good home for her with someone who could give her the care she needs. My mom and Rudy are taking her home today, after her bath.
It appears after all that the Christmas spirit does amount to something, and if you were to ask me again, I would still say yes, there is a Santa Claus. And he gave me the best gift of all this year: he brought my puppy back to life.