Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Goodbye, my Little Girl

The food bowl sits on the floor- empty… untouched… alone… like my heart feels right now. My companion who shared my home for a decade and a half has gone, and I’m still grieving. As I reflect on it, I realize my mourning is normal- to some extent at any rate. The house where I live has never been empty. I moved in with Snoopy and Beauty my first night here, back in 1995. Always the pitter patter of little feet has graced this home.

Mikey was born to Snoopy and Beauty in Beauty’s first and only litter- thirteen puppies, one stillborn. Out of all of them, I picked her. Beauty passed away from a bad case of parvovirus a few months afterwards. Both Mikey and Snoopy got ill, but they made it through.

One of my students today asked why dogs don’t live as long as humans. I thought about it and replied simply that they live life filled with abandon. I miss coming home and seeing my bedspread all over the place from where they used to jump up and down on it all day, chasing away mailmen or any stray animal that got too close to the house. In the back yard, Mikey would chase Snoopy and both would run themselves into exhaustion. It was a joie de vivre (French for a passionate “joy of living” or “zest of life”) that I have never seen repeated, anywhere, before or afterwards.

When Snoopy died three years ago my heart was heavy, and so was Mikey’s. She did not understand, and up to a few days before she died, she always went out to my truck to check and see if Snoopy was there. In this, her emotions were plainly evident.

In her later years, she had some hip dysplasia, so she spent most of her time lying and sleeping. Yet, whenever I arrived home from work, she always dragged herself up to come and greet me. I would leave the radio in my bedroom turned to a Christian music station when I left for work, and when I arrived home I would ask her, “Did God sing over you today?” She was so faithful… so filled with love. What a beautiful gift from God!

The end happened all too quickly. Friday, I arrived home and Mikey let out a whine, gathering herself up from the floor to come and greet me as was her usual custom. I spent the weekend at home, happy and content. Sunday however, she was a little wobbly. As she went down the three steps from my porch to the front yard, she tripped, and landed smack down on her chest with her front legs splayed out on the concrete. I went to her and helped her get up, but she was never really the same after that. She was not too interested in food. I made her a chicken breast with some bread, but it came back up later in the day. I was very concerned that she had hurt herself.

The truth was that her liver and kidneys had ceased functioning and when I got her into the vets on Monday, she had a temperature of 104. I asked them to get her hydrated and waited for the blood test results. When I learned that her organs had started to shut down, I knew it was her time.

They brought her in and she looked better, now that she had gotten some water into her. I had a talk with her, and told her how good she had been and how much I loved her. Even with her temperature, and the wastes building up in her blood, she reached forward and gave me a snog on the face. It was… so very touching.

Now, the house sits silent. I know that one of these days, I am going to come home and forgetting, expect to see her. I leave the radio on for now when I go to work, even though she’s no longer there. I miss her so. Yet even in this, I believe she has accomplished the task set for her- to show me the meaning of love, pure and unfettered by human concerns.

So now, I say good bye to my sweet little girl. You have done so well. I love you very much. Look for me in heaven. Now, go chase Snoopy!

Dear Lord, I thank you for Mikey, for her steadfast devotion and care for me. Words cannot express my heart right now. I humbly ask, that as Mikey was to me, make me to You. Let me be faithful. Let me love You, as Mikey loved me. When you call, let me turn and listen, and not be distracted by the cares of this life. And in doing so, let Your will be done. Amen.


Jane said...

Glenn, Mikey was a kind and gentle soul because her Daddy is. I understand how much you're grieving right now, and I loved reading your tribute to her. With tears comes healing, and you have 15 years of wonderful memories that will slowly replace the pain. In time, maybe you'll be ready to let another dog into your life and she, or he, will steal your heart. I know another dog won't make you miss Mikey and Snoopy any less, but that's what's so cool about the human heart. We always have the capacity to love more.

George Everson said...


I know it is hard for you, living alone, to lose a campanion. My prayers are with you my friend. Know that there are many people who love you and pray for you now.

George Everson

Anonymous said...

Mr. Houtchens

Once again I give my condolence on the loss of Mikey. I’m sorry I was not able to spend more time with her. Your kind words will always be with me.


Dr. Bannister
Allatoona Animal Hospital

Zach Barge said...

Mr. Houtchens

I may be your student but this is a really sweet story. I'll pray for you. I've had the same thing happen, but to my cat Taz. My heart felt like a 2 T boulder in my chest. I used to play with him all day, but one night he came inside limping. I walked over to him and put my arms under him. I said," Taz? Buddy, are you ok?" He meowed back. I started to cry. "Taz... You've been my cat for 14 years... And I love you so much...", and he got looser in my arms. I buried my face in his fur and prayed for a miracle. A miracle to keep Taz with me. But nothing happened... Taz meowed four times. Enough to fit these words..,"I Love You Zach." He went limp. I felt his heart. I felt it stop. Just stop. I had a few hundred dollars saved up. Used it to get my precious, best friend a funeral and a grave. Right next to where my grave will be. I'm sorry about your best companion and I shall pray for you.
Your student, Zach 5th period

Glenn Houtchens said...

Thank you Zach, for your kind words.