Xerxes was a sweet old dog we found at the animal shelter. Well, that is a lie. He was a curmudgeonly old dog really but we loved him. He looked absolutely pathetic, ribs sticking out, shaking, ugly really. We had no intention of a getting a dog that day but there he was, a pug. Do you know how rare it is to find a pug at a shelter? He was a stray. They had just brought him in a day or two before and neutered him. He was shaky from the drugs from the surgery. I guarantee no one else would have taken him. But he licked my nose and my husband said, “Let’s get him.”
He was ornery but loving, a good cuddler even when I forced him. He didn’t like kids so when I got pregnant the first time we wondered what we’d do with him. Turns out it was a non-issue. The second time it was, too. Xerxes died in my arms during that second pregnancy. The worst part is he almost died alone at a doggie day care. We were supposed to be out of town at a family reunion. We couldn’t attend at the last minute because my cousin’s family had Fifth’s Disease and we felt it was too risky for me to be exposed in my first trimester of pregnancy, especially with the memory of my last miscarriage fresh in our minds. So we were with him. I sobbed, cried for days, missed a day of work even. I loved that old ugly dog. I stroked his fur for awhile afterwards, unable to let him go.
I still think about Xerxes. Very few people could pronounce his unusual name. And he peed all over our house and furniture, even my dad’s head once. He loved my husband and put up with my suffocating affection for him. Good old Xerxes.
The house was so empty after he was gone. We couldn’t stand it. We began applying to rescue agencies for another old male pug. We found one, a big boy we named Odin. He couldn’t hear, had a wretched cough and an unsightly skin tag but we took him anyway.
Odin really was a sweet dog, great with kids and happiest when he laid on the couch or in his cushiony dog bed. Odin got me through a really hard time of my life like Xerxes had before him. He had to go, too unfortunately. I still wonder about him and hope he is okay. I found out he did get adopted so that makes me happy!
Have you ever lost a loved pet? What was it like for you?