S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
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S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
The Best Place to Bury a Puppy-Part I
A beautiful litter of five Shih Tzu was born a few days ago. They were perfectly marked and nursed vigorously. The three boy and two girls were whelped uneventfully. This was the second litter for Mama, Dolly. I kept close watch over them, especially the smallest one, a lovely gold and white female. She was doing fine until day two, She seemed to struggle to breathe. Despite efforts to keep her going, this little girl slipped away.
The death of a puppy is always heart wrenching, but this little lady was twice as hard to lose. She already had a “new Mom” awaiting her birth and homecoming at twelve weeks of age. She even had a name. The anxious owner called weekly just to check on the expectant Mama. I promised to let her know right away when the blessed event happened. When I did call her to announce the arrival of the litter, she asked me to hold the little gold and white girl in my hand and call her “Emily” telling her that she was loved already.
I cannot tell you how difficult that phone call was-telling here that “her” Emily was gone. I had not yet met this woman in person, but felt connected to her through this tiny life. She’d lost her beloved Shih Tzu gentleman a short time ago. She found me through a referral and learned that I had a litter due. We talked at length about her boy, the painful loss of him and her desire to find a new puppy to fill the huge hole left in her life. It had to be “just the right one.” I vowed to help her find it whether it was from me or not.
The wound from the loss of her old friend was very painful. The joy of the birth of this new baby had been helping it heal. Now, I had to open this pain again. We cried together over the phone. I told her that Emily had taken her last breath tucked in my shirt, close to my heart. I also told her of the special place chosen in my garden to bury her.
While going through all of this, I remembered an old story concerning the “problem of where to bury a dog” due to limitations, sanitation, etc. The article ended with a line I shall remember always: “The best place to bury a dog is…in your heart.” Little Emily died close to my heart, and there she will always be.
The Best Place to Bury a Puppy-Part II
We arrived at the show site uneventfully and ready to go. The show kids were all bathed needing just last minute grooming. We had delivered puppies on this trip west, stopping in S. Dakota and finding a vet in case we needed help. I am paranoid about my mama dogs. As soon as Shugz began the familiar behavior before whelping, we parked and stayed put waiting for the “blessed event.” Without problems, she presented us with three beautiful boys. They were all feisty and healthy, although one was significantly smaller than the others.
Nine days later, the smallest baby was in trouble. What in the world was the matter? He had tripled his weight along with the others and seemed to be fine until today. I was up all night, holding him, crying with him, comforting him as best I could. The vet came at 7 am., administered fluids, determined he was in stress but had no diagnosis. He died in my arms several hours later. With tears and a broken heart, I went in the ring. Both show kids won. What a trade-off! Happy for the points but unable to quell the grief, I decided what to do. Call Ann. She’ll help, she always does. We cried together. What am I going to do with this baby. We won’t be home for five more weeks. There was no place to bury him. I’d been agonizing over this the whole day. Then came Ann’s advice. He was born in those beautiful mountains and died there. He should stay where he belongs, in the mountains with the big, blue Montana sky over him.
Miles away from home and friends, I felt so alone. However, the day before I’d met a lovely lady with a Shih Tzu. She had her boy in the ring that terrible day so I told her about my baby. She offered to help in any way she could. I was afraid to ask if she knew of a nice place to put him. I shouldn’t have been. Of course, she did. She had a lovely, large yard with a view of the mountains under a lilac bush that would be perfect. I could come out after the show and pick my spot. We did and stood in this beautiful yard giving him back to God. I guess some small, new little angel needed my baby puppy to help him adjust to heaven that day. Hopefully, they are romping through the pearly gates together giving each other those wonderful hugs and kisses and puppy breath.
As for me, I made a lifetime connection with a new friend who offered of herself in this difficult time. Whether we like it or not, we are part of each other forever. It truly is another example of the genuine people in our breed, always there to help and support in difficult situations. Alice will always be a special part of my memories of Montana, both good and bad. Coincidentally, that makes three Alice’s in my life, but that is the subject for another article.