January 23, 2013

On Losing Daphne

My mom had to make the painful decision to have her dog, Daphne, put to sleep yesterday.  During the course of a discussion about both Daph's life, and my mom's fondness for spoiling her animals, I remembered the following story.  I wanted to write it down before I forgot about it and it was lost to the ages.

My sister and I are both adopted, and my parents are really thankful to have been given the opportunity to be parents.  (This is despite some of the, erm, challenges, I may have presented as a kid.)  Despite her efforts to be the best mother she could to us, she was never really able to squelch her desire to have kids of her own.  Knowing that I was going to give her granddogs instead of grandkids, she was left with either pestering my sister, or seeking alternate means.  I think she chose both in the long run, but I know for a fact that she decided she was going to look into breeding her Jack Russell Terrier, Daphne.  She'd been given the dog we'd nicknamed the Flying Nun as a birthday present, and she carried her around the house like a cat for the first couple years of her life.  She had one ear that always stuck straight up, and both of them were black, so she looked like a dog in a habit.  She was the household nursemaid too.  If anyone was sick or upset, she'd do whatever she could to be near you to console you.  If you shut a door or put up a dog gate to keep her out of the room, she'd lay right in front of it until you let her in.  I know more than once, she brought trophies from  her hunting escapades that were less than appreciated by all members of the house.  But, it's the thought that counts, right?  

Mom was attached to that dog with a bond stronger than any other family pet we'd had.  Also, apparently, mom's maternal instincts were so high that she didn't care what species was giving birth, she just wanted to be a part of it.  That's where her adoration for Daphne was hopefully going to help her realize her lifelong desire.  So, she sought out a stud dog and a vet, and proceeded to pimp out her dog.

I don't remember all of the details, but what does come to mind is that it wasn't just one trip, and *bam* there were puppies.  First, mom had to make sure Daphne was mature enough to go into heat, and then let her have a cycle or two before she could try this mess.  That meant there was more than one time where this little black and white dog with one floppy ear and one that stuck up like a periscope would be bouncing around the house in a literal diaper.  Funniest thing I can remember seeing in a long time.  When it came time that she would be ready to be bred, mom made a series of appointments.  As I recall, she drove out to this remote bedroom community where the deed was done.  The first couple times, I think they dimmed the lights in the doggie crate, put on a little Barry White and tried to let Nature take its course.  My imagination has the kennel rocking as mom and the owner of the stud dog exchanged money under the bare bulb in the seedy waiting room filled with naugahyde furniture and smelling of flea dip.

Sadly, like mom, Daphne seemed to be baren.  Or at least she had trouble conceiving naturally.  So, in a last ditch effort to realize her dream of being part of the circle of life (if even as a midwife) mom too her back to the vet for an IVF treatment.  (I don't know how they obtained the sample from the male, and the more I think about it, the less I hate my own job.  At least I could look the physical therapist in the eye when I told them how I got my carpal tunnel as a help desk employee.)  

I know this was all done in a sterile, safe environment.  But I can only imagine what poor Daphne was thinking as the vet gloved up and came at her with essentially a sophisticated turkey baster.  For her sake, I sure hope KY is approved for dogs.  

On the way home, Daphne was quietly laying in the back seat.  For a dog who's normally a bundle of energy and affection, this was unusual.  Being the softie that mom is, she decided to continue her trend of spoiling her animals and turned into the drive through of a fast food place.  From the dollar menu, she ordered Daphne a plain hamburger as a treat.  So as not to torment the poor dear smelling the food on the drive home, she decided to let her enjoy it right there and pulled into a parking spot.  As mom removed the burger from the bag, Daphne lept to her feet and bounced right into mom's lap.  She sat there, tail a waging, the whole time she ate the burger.  Once she was done with every last crumb, mom nudged her into the passenger seat and drove home.  Her guilt had been assuaged, and Daphne's good cheer had returned.  

It's a little disheartening to say that Daphne never did have puppies.  After the last failed IVF, mom decided to have her spayed so she didn't have to diaper her up every time she came into heat.  No puppies for mom.  But, I don't think she'd trade her time with Daphne for anything.  I know we'll all miss her, but I think mom will the most.   May you catch all that you hunt and nurture all those who need it over the Rainbow Bridge.  RIP Daphne the Jack Russell Terrier. 

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