Here’s a collection of heartbreaking personal experiences I want to share (trust me, there’s a tie-in):
In 2003 my beloved dog Peppy died of old age. He’d come to my door in 1990 and proudly trotted inside as if only to visit, but he stayed, and was an absolute gem of a little dog, a charming character that will never be forgotten. He’d saunter up to strangers in parks and introduce himself, always eliciting smiles, and he loved to be “worn” on your head, wrapped around your neck and so forth, had absolute trust in human hands. This is him close to the end, about age 13:
Then in 2006 my dear dog Heidi died after years of tumor growth and 3 surgeries; she also died (euthanized) at about age 14. I’d spotted her in a hospital parking lot, guessed her person may have had a heart attack while driving and that’s how she ended up there? She’d been nibbling on bird bones and such like a little feral dog. It took two days to catch her, but once picked up, she melted into my arms and we were together for 11 years, many happy memories with all of them. A great hugger dear little Heidi was, cautious, affectionate, bit naughty at times, and proud of possessing her two little men, “husband” Corky below, and “boyfriend” Peppy above. She’d had another beau named Charlie from 1995-1997 as well. (Of course they were all spayed/neutered.) Here’s my beloved Heidi:
Then only a few months later, near the end of 2006, my dearly loved mother died from congestive heart failure at 80. So much trouble and failures we had overcome, and words here cannot do her justice, nor can words describe the grief at losing her. She suffered psychological problems and overcame them entirely without “help,” as professionals never really helped the situation, only masked it with “treatments.” She’s who first got me interested in vegetarian eating in the 1970s, as she dabbled in it off and on. She and all my other family…human and animal…are loved forever. Here she is at about age 20:
Then in late 2007 my sweet little guy Corky died at about age 18 of heart failure (euthanized), another unique and cherished little treasure found wandering a busy boulevard in 1994, with a gang of kids chasing him throwing sticks. I saved him from the little brats, held him in my arms, and fell in love. And he was a runner, an independent spirit, so would at times say “screw you I’m off for an adventure!” and take off, only to be found with my screaming his name at the top of my lungs as he came trotting back, contrite but happy. Here’s Corky on his favorite chair:
Then a few months later in February 2008 my dad died at 83 after suffering for years with heart disease and CHF. He’d adopted a new family and been with them for many years, but we always loved each other, he was never gone from our lives, even if pretty estranged, as divorce families can be. He was basically a good man despite his flaws…the ladies loved him and he quite enjoyed that, making him a pretty terrible husband for our fragile mom. Still we have many happy memories with our dad. Any financial security we have now, we owe largely to him, as he was quite the businessman and hard worker. Despite some hard times, in the long run he provided for his kids. Here’s dad in his 20s:
There it is, five deaths suffered in five years…
Needless to say, quite enough devastation and grief. Yet it gets worse.
A couple of weeks after my father died, his second wife also died very unexpectedly due to pneumonia. Her large family including three grown children, several grandchildren, and various cousins, nieces, nephews, all of course were devastated. For both extended families, two funerals within a few weeks. I don’t know how people get through life with all of this, but here we are.
Now to the point of this article and the title, Dog in the Manger:
My father had a little dog he adopted as a puppy, a Jack Russell type named Piccolina, totally adorable even if obsessively attached to him and fiercely protective…a one-person dog pretty much, except my dad’s wife was her secondary loved one. Her dog was a fat friendly boy chihuahua named Güero, sweet and feisty. And dad’s step-son and daughter-in-law had two black chihuahuas, one was Penny and I don’t remember the other’s name. Very sweet, cautious, loyal to their loved ones. They lived in a house next-door to my dad and his wife.
So now both heads of my dad’s household were deceased, and the dogs were without their loved caretakers, an indescribably sad situation. All four dogs would mostly hang out at my dad’s place with the run of the house and large yard. But now there was no more dad, no more mom. Only dad’s step-son and family next door, with work and school activities to occupy much of their time. So I immediately sought to arrange for my cousin-in-law who lives not far from there to give Piccolina and Güero an excellent home with her, as she’s a kind, generous, smart woman, so of course loves dogs. She agreed and was looking forward to welcoming them to her home. I believe she’d just had an elderly dog who had passed, so was missing the company of dogs. I already had two dogs, the legal limit at my complex, and my brother had four at the time, so we had our hands full or would have at least taken my dad’s dog. But thankfully there was our cousin who would take the two, and she was close-by while we were a 1–2 hour drive away.
But when my cousin called my dad’s elder step-daughter shortly after the funeral to say she’d take the two dogs, the daughter said, “Oh no, we want to keep them, our mom loved them, we’ll take good care of them,” or something along those lines. Bewildered by this, my cousin agreed after trying to convince her otherwise, and told me about it.
And here’s the part I’ll never forgive myself for, nor will I forgive my father’s 2nd family:
I took dad’s 2nd family at their word and figured that with so many people to look out for them…as they do have a lot of family and friends, all supposedly dog lovers and God-fearing Christians…the dogs must be in good hands. So I naively set my mind at ease and pictured the dogs getting used to living without their beloved “mom & dad” and settling in to their new lives.
Then several months later, my brother talked to dad’s step-daughter and asked her about the dogs. In essence she replied, “Oh, three of them died, we think they got into rat poison or something, but Güero survived and he’s with my brother and his family.”
They’d already been gone for months before we found out. Needless to say, I, my brother, and our cousins were sickened, horrified…no words really describe the feelings here, which persist to this day for me, six years later. No other explanation can be gotten from the family about how those three dogs, Piccolina and the two black chihuahuas, met their ends. They could have starved to death for all we know, since the plump one was the only survivor. Hopefully he didn’t meet any awful fate too, as his family moved to Oregon and we don’t keep in touch…never really did except in necessity. With Güero being their mother’s personal beloved dog, I believe they had incentive to actually care for him.
So when I looked up “dog in the manger” today, I was stricken and saddened, again remembering those three sweet little dogs. The spiteful keeping of something…rather someones…that you don’t really want, just to keep someone else from having them, someone who deserves them and who will care for them well.
Dog in the manger, you know who you are…
And I wonder what any God really thinks of you and all the others who knowingly, willfully betrayed those innocents and caused them such suffering. My own betrayal of them was due to ignorance, and faith in your love for at least your mother…but my guilt for leaving them in your hands is unbearable. Where’s your guilt, and what have you all done about it? Jesus will save you? So much for Christianity in this case.
Beware, people, never trust others you don’t really know with something so precious. Don’t suffer this guilt and unending heartbreak. And most importantly, watch out for the animals, see to them, protect them. Hard lessons learned.
In memory of “Picky” and her two pals. I hope you (and others I’ve failed) understand everything now, and forgive me for my mistakes. You are all loved and cried for.