We lost our dog Tinker last week. She was 13.5 and had definitely slowed down in recent months. A Jack Russell/Beagle mix, she was about 35 pounds (ok, a little more since she grazed and stole kid food) and lived to be a pretty decent age for a geriatric dog.
I hope you will allow me to talk a bit about her before I get to the twin related aspects- I figure some back story is always welcome.
Tinker came into our lives around Christmas in 1999. The SPCA had a set up in one of the higher end malls to adopt out as many dogs as possible while people were shopping for the holidays. This particular day, they had almost run out of animals and had to make a trip to the shelter to bring more dogs up to the mall. While they were trying to clean out cages, I volunteered to hold this sweet and terrified little puppy they had brought in.
She dug her tiny claws into my neck as if she were clinging on for dear life. Her little body was shaking in terror as she took in all of the stimulation of a busy mall. It didn't take long for me to realize I could not put her down. Could not put her back into a crate when she was so scared. Even when I looked more closely at her face and noticed the fleas crawling on her (so gross).
DH sighed in resignation and our little scaredy cat became a member of the family. She was always terrified of strangers, particularly men. There was a good chance she would never approach a guest in our home to be pet- and if she did, it would be on her own terms. She never snapped or tried to bite, and the only 2 people I ever heard her growl at turned out to not be of upstanding moral character in the long run- I always called her the best judge of character.
She didn't play regular dog games, rather she liked to tease our other dog, Max, by stealing his toys and growling at him when he tried to retrieve him.
She loved the boys tremendously. A little worried mother, she always went in to check on the boys after they went to bed and whined if they were upset. They loved their "Tink Tink" and loved on her as only little boys can.
Last Tuesday Randy called me into the bedroom saying there was a problem. Our sweet girl was very sick. Initially I thought maybe she had been 'poisoned' in the sense that she ate something she shouldn't have. But it was more like a stroke, she just wasn't there.
We got her through the night and brought her to the vet who was honest and caring and felt it was likely an issue with her central nervous system. He gave her a steroid and a sedative to see if that would help but braced us for the possibility that she wouldn't recover.
And she didn't. She couldn't get up on her own. She registered that someone was in the room with her but didn't respond to inflections of voice or tone. She wouldn't eat and had a tough time drinking. There is a point when your dog is too sick that they just look at you and you know. They are ready.
As difficult as it was to let go of our sweet little dog, the worst part for me was deciding what to tell the boys. They knew Tinker was very sick and we had to be quiet around her. But when we got home and G-Man asked "Mommy, where's Tinker?" I nearly lost it.
I gathered them both in my arms and told them Tinker had died and went to be with Jesus (I don't want to get into a theological argument about the potential inaccuracy of this). E-Dude asked me to go get her and cried when I told her I couldn't. As I held my crying boy in my arms, my own tears blinding my vision, I felt the soft pat from G-Man on my arm as he tried to comfort me.
"Tinker's in Jesus' House?"
Every day since we have talked about Tinker being in Heaven with Jesus. And it is hard, because I miss her. But I love the gentle hearts of my little men as they adjust with their loss. They know she is gone and they miss her, but they rest comfortably in Jesus. Knowing somehow, He is taking care of their precious friend.
Amazing how they can teach me.