He was six weeks old when I brought him home; he fit in the palm of my hand. That was over sixteen years ago. My husband Ed and I were spending the weekend at Pismo Beach, California when Ed decided he needed to stop for a haircut. Me being me, I wandered over to the pet store just to kill some time. This was actually in Grover City which is just a stone’s throw from Pismo Beach. Needless to say, I saw the doggy window with all the cute little puppies in it; poodles to be exact. I couldn’t help myself. I had to pick one up. So there I was, with this tiny little six-week-old poodle. He had me at the first wag of his tiny tail and his puppy breath kisses. After spending twenty minutes loving on him, my husband suddenly appeared in the window outside, shaking his head “no.” So, I kissed my new baby goodbye and headed out the door. After about an hour of telling my husband all the reasons why I “needed” this puppy and why he “needed” me, we were suddenly pulling back into the parking lot when Ed told me to just “go in and get the dog!” I think he was just tired of hearing me ramble on and on.
When it came time to name my new baby, how could I name him anything other than “Pismo?” His papers said that his “doggy daddy’s” name was Glenair, so I officially named him “Pismo Pete Glenair.” Pismo came home with us and promptly took over the house. To my children, who were teenagers at the time, he became Pizzy, Mo-Mo, Mo, or just Piz. He went to work with me, went camping with us, and just about everywhere else until he was too old to sneak into places. He loved nothing more than to chase the cats, and would scare off a neighbor dog ten times bigger than himself . . . it’s amazing how a bigger dog can be outsmarted by a little poodle! Pismo was also a great floor mop once my children were married and had their own kids. The first time one of the grandchildren would drop food on the floor; they were his friend for life. He especially loved popcorn, bacon and French toast.
About a year ago, Pismo started showing signs of aging. He was, after all, fifteen people years old. I could tell he was having problems seeing and couldn’t hear very well. When he could no longer jump up on the couch, chair, or bed, it became apparent that his back legs just weren’t what they used to be. My little bundle of energy wasn’t so energized anymore, instead he more “hobbled” than “walked.” After he had his sixteenth birthday, it became apparent that time was running short. Pismo would go out the doggy door into the backyard to do his business, only to turn around and come back inside and do the business on my carpet. Needless to say, this didn’t make me happy. As irritated as I’d get, I kept telling myself it was just an accident. Do dogs get senile?
As hard as it was, I decided to put Pismo to sleep after the Christmas holidays. This was not an easy decision to make. My main concern was that between Pismo’s failing eyesight and his hind legs going out, that he would fall in the pool. I knew if that happened I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.
I told my husband that I wanted to do this on January 6th, as this would have been my mother’s birthday. I don’t believe that dogs have a soul like we humans do, but I do believe that they go to Heaven. My mom loved animals and in fact had a poodle of her own when she died many years too young in a car accident. I figured if Pismo was going to Heaven, what better day to send him. I know my mom would be waiting for him with open arms. Our neighbor, who is a veterinarian assistant and grew up with Pismo, was kind enough to come to the house to send him to Heaven. As the two of us cried, she first gave him a light sedative, and shaved his little front leg. As he lay there with me telling him in his ear how much I loved him, she gave him the final shot that ended his pain. There are no words that can describe how hard this was for me. After holding him for a time, I bundled him in his blanket, and put him gently in a box with all of his doggy sweaters before my husband took him out behind the house to bury him.
This was on a Friday evening, and as it turns out, was just as hard on Ed as myself. An hour after Ed took Pismo out to put him in his final resting place, he still hadn’t come inside. When I went out back looking for him, I found my husband crouched down next to the grave, just sitting there as though he had lost his best friend. And it’s odd, he really did. The man who stood in the pet shop window shaking his head “no” had become one of Pismo’s best friends. Over the last 16 years, it had been Ed who had defended Pismo when he piddled on my rug. It had been Ed who built a special “perch” in the backseat of the jeep to attach his little kennel to. Pismo would only lay in his kennel when we were on a very rocky jeep trail. If the trail was fairly mild, it was Ed’s lap, not mine, where Pismo most loved to be. He would hang his little head out the window of the jeep as if to “spot” Ed. It was Ed’s side of the bed where Pismo would sleep most nights, mainly because Ed sleeps like a log and I get up three or four times a night to do “my business.” Pismo quickly learned that if he didn’t want to be disturbed while he was sleeping, it was better to sleep on dad’s side of the bed. That weekend, was a very long, quiet, sad weekend. We each grieve in our own way. I cry, cry, cry, and my husband needs to just “be quiet.”
Now that I’ve gotten past the crying part, and the asking myself over and over if I made “the right decision”, I’m at the part where I didn’t realize how much Pizzy was always there. There to greet me when I came in the door (even if it had been five minutes earlier), there to say “I’ll be right back Piz” when leaving to run an errand, there to sleep in front of the fire or in my lap, and even there to eat my leftover French toast. Pismo was a part of this family, and losing him made me realize how our pets can imprint themselves into our hearts forever.
I try to assure my grandchildren that Pismo is in Heaven with their great-grandma (who they never had the joy of knowing), and that he is now healthy, happy and chasing kitty cats in a happy, nice kind of way. My seven year old grandson told me last week that Piz was probably “humping” all the cats (as he was known to do), and I told him that “humping the cats” probably wasn’t allowed in Heaven.