I briefly introduced my doggies in my About Me section, but it doesn’t do them justice at all! In order to tell you about my current pups, I have to start at the beginning, with Kiwi. Kiwi was my childhood dog. I got him while I still lived in Venezuela; I was about 12 years old. I had begged my dad to get me a dog (because I knew that if I asked my mom, she would say no!). After my dad did some research, he discovered a nearby vet was giving away some Yorkshire Terrier puppies. I remember standing over the basket where the furry bouquet of puppies was yapping away, begging to be adopted. But Kiwi and I had an immediate connection and he was the smallest puppy in the litter. I thought this would be a good compromise in case my mom refused to let me keep it, “but, mom, he was the smallest!” I can’t tell you how that was a completely acceptable and logical argument, but it was in my 12-year-old mind.
On the drive back home, Kiwi nestled in my lap as my dad and I brainstormed some names for him. While stopped at a red light, we looked over to our right and saw a farmer’s market on the side of the road, “What about ‘Kiwi’?” my dad asked as he saw a huge bin filled with the furry brown fruit. That was perfect!
Kiwi was my everything. He loved me the most out of everyone and that made me feel very special. When we visited my family in Brazil over the summers, Kiwi went with me in the airplane. He also went on our family vacation to Margarita Island. The joke was that he needed his own passport because he was so well-traveled! When we moved back to Brazil because of my dad’s job – I was 15 and a half – Kiwi came with us. Two and a half years later, I had to say good-bye to Kiwi when I went to college. I missed him everyday, and everyday I asked my parents about him when I chatted with them over the internet. When I visited Brazil over the holidays and summers, I took as many pictures of Kiwi as I possibly could. He was always on my lap, no matter what I was doing. He came with me everywhere I went. And every time I boarded the plane to return to college, my heart sunk and I wish I could take him with me.
In 2008, when I started graduate school, I finally brought him to live with me. He loved Florida! I used to let him walk around the outside of my apartment, sniffing the grass and the flowers, letting the warm breeze brush his silky fur off his little face. And once again, he became my loyal companion! He loved car rides, french fries, and blueberry dog treats. I had to feed him soft wet food because he had lost several of his teeth and could barely chew. In fact, he made a huge mess after every meal and I’d have to wipe his pointy snout clean. Most importantly, he always let me sleep in!
On an evening in January 2009, when my parents were in town for the holidays, I found Kiwi laying on the floor, with his tongue sticking out, taking very shallow breaths. I remember grabbing whatever shoes were in front of me and dashing to the emergency vet with my dad and my boyfriend at the time. I was crying, my heart was pounding, and I wasn’t ready to lose him. By the time we arrived at vet, his tongue had turned blue. The vet put him in an oxygen chamber. She diagnosed with him congestive heart failure, and explained that his heart muscles were getting too weak to pump his blood and some fluid was back-washing into his lungs. Essentially, his own body was drowning him. They told me he needed to be kept over night and that I would need to come back the next day to take him to my regular vet. If anything, they would call me.
I arrived home, crying, not knowing what to do with myself, wanting him to make it through the night. The next morning, we did as instructed – picked him up and took him to his regular vet. Kiwi was referred to a heart specialist. Once again, he was placed in an oxygen chamber, but this time, he was kept for several days. I visited him every chance I got, because I didn’t know if I would have another moment with him. The techs told me he always looked healthier and perkier when I visited him. To my relief, Kiwi survived this crisis and was prescribed several medications, to be administered several times a day. One of the medications was a diuretic, so I diligently woke up every night at 3am to make sure he could pee. He seemed to be doing much better and I was so grateful he wasn’t taken from me.
Five months later, Kiwi and I were watching a movie when I noticed his breathing was shallow again. I had gotten really good at measuring his breathing rate and checked it every day. I rushed him to the heart specialist, who told me he needed to be kept overnight. He stayed in the hospital for about 3 days, and then came home! He was very weak the night he came home, but managed to drink and eat a healthy amount. The next day, he only had dinner. The following day, he only had water. I tried feeding him everything…anything. I bought him his favorite foods and treats. Nothing. On the night of day 3, he stopped going to the bathroom. On day 5, he barely peed. on day 6, his breathing was shallow again.
I got in my car, with him on my lap. He was too weak to make it, and I knew this to some level, but I still hoped he would be strong enough. I dropped him off at the heart specialist. When I came home, I marched into the kitchen, cleaned the entire floor, and set up his food station: a wee-wee pad, his water dish, and his empty food dish. I pulled out the little yellow basket where I kept his medications and syringes, and placed them on the counter. This was my way of saying, “Kiwi, you are coming home. We are waiting for you.” I went to bed. At 1am, the vet called me and told me he wasn’t going to make it and I needed to give her permission to end his suffering. I stood up and felt like there wasn’t enough air to fill my lungs… everything was spinning. My boyfriend drove me to the vet because I was in no shape to drive.
I couldn’t bear seeing his lifeless body. I wanted my last memory of Kiwi to be his beady eyes looking up at me and the little kiss he gave me on the tip of my nose.
The next day, I went to Michaels, bought the most beautiful box I could find, and filled it with our wonderful memories together: his favorite toys, his Halloween costumes, his paw print, his food dishes, his leash and harness, and a few days later, his ashes.
The night before he died, we watched Marley & Me together. I bought a copy of this movie and added it to the box. I never watched it again and never will.
Kiwi – I love you, and I still miss you every day.