For the love of a dog…

For the love of a dog…

Disclaimer: This post I’m sharing is a very personal account about the loss of my dog, a member of our little family.

Let’s rewind back to the beginning of the story. 

I was in my matric year and it had been quite an emotional year of sorts. I felt that adopting a dog was the route to go as my sister had an adopted dog already from a shelter a few years back. 

The particular shelter I went to, did not want to assist me with adopting a dog. The just of it, I arrived there in my school uniform, maybe they thought I wasn’t serious. I was told I had to be 18 years old in order to sign the adoption forms for a dog, (which I was at the time). The lady then backtracked and said I had to be 21 years old. Anyway, I left there a little irritated but left my details for them call me to chat to my mom for a home inspection.

Two weeks went by and no one contacted me from the shelter. I figured that the dog I was looking at had gone to the first person who had “reserved” her.

I left it…

My then boyfriend, Jarred (now my husband) and I were driving down one of the main roads, North Rand Road and found a woman sitting on the side of the road with an opened trailer. 

In the years that I lived in Boksburg I had never seen this woman, nor have I seen her to this very day. Almost like she vanished! 

We walked over to her and found the open trailer to filled with unkempt puppies. The littlest mite with the loudest bark caught my attention as she fought for food. I had to rescue her! 

I arrived home and my mom thought I was carrying a rodent of some sorts. I introduced everyone to little Peanut but their eyes seems wary of Peanut’s state because she was too young to be away from her mother.  That night she slept huddled up in a shoebox on my bed as she wouldn’t stop crying unless I held her.

The next morning, I took Peanut to the vet for a check-up and again she was mistaken for a rat curled up in my arms. She was no bigger than my hand. 

I saw the look of concern on the vet’s face, as he inspected Peanut. She was riddled with fleas. Her teeth had yet to pierce through her gums. I had underestimated how young she was. 

I was off with a puppy formula kit and my little Peanut. I was positive that she would live! I never ever doubted this. 

And lived she did. 

I was dedicated to my little Pee Pee. Bottle-feeds in the early hours of the morning, I even went as far as to enlist my mom to help while I was at school. 

Peanut grew up to exceed everyone’s expectations. A feisty little madam that trotted around the house. Sometimes I referred to her as a “cat dog” because she would come to you when she wanted attention. She was the queen, my shadow. Everywhere I went, she went. 

She would walk so closely by my side, I couldn’t see her sometimes.  

My little dog saw me through many stages of my life: matric,varsity, marriage and parenthood. Moments of joy and sadness. 

She was my emotional barometer. She knew when I was upset or angry. She would try to lick my tears as I cried. It always made me smile when she did.

I did worry how she would handle Adriana’s arrival but Pee Pee took it in her stride. She was not phased. She would come check up on Adriana during the night when she cried. Peanut always crawled up by my feet as I rocked Adriana to sleep. She did this to the very end.

As a small dog, we believed that she would be we us for at least 16 years. Peanut defied the odds before, why wouldn’t she again?

In November 2017, Peanut had her first seizure. 

I rushed her to the vet and was freaked out with what happened.  

Blood tests were run and the tests came back clear. 

No explanation could be given for why it happened. Nothing happened for about a month or so. We thought she was in the clear. There was nothing wrong with her otherwise. 

Before the tears spill over, I’d love to reminisce about some of the numerous memories that I have of Peanut. 

She was literally a Puppy in My Pocket (remember those toys in the late 90s), we went to a family wedding. No one could babysit her. She was a tiny mite and had to fed regularly. So she came with us to the wedding. She slept in Jarred’s jacket pocket and if she needed something she’d pop her head out. It was hilarious when she asleep for a while but once dinner was served, she quickly popped her head out.

Peanut loved car rides. Any excuse to drive somewhere, she was excited. Her favourite position was across our shoulders. So she could be close to you while looking out the window. Trips to the park, my dad’s farm and even to the coast. 

I think her favourite place was the beach. She loved walking up and down as she chased Jarred. Peanut was so chilled that she’d lie under the shade as we suntanned and lay on the beach. 

She was always happy to be with us. 

Peanut had her share of misfortune over the years. The poor thing had severe allergies including  eczema that was aggravated by grass and food (I know, a dog that’s allergic to grass. How bizarre is that?). Often she’d wear a cone or a satellite dish as I liked to call it, to stop her from licking and scratching herself. It was funny how she managed to play and eat with the cone on. 

But Peeps was a sly little bugger. She’d often find ways to eat food that she wasn’t allowed which was everything! Once I left home to run an errand, I left a sealed chocolate on the coffee table. I never thought she’d jump onto the table since I had not seen her do so. I was gone for 45 minutes and she devoured that chocolate. The only evidence was the chocolate wrappers on the floor. So Jarred and I decided to spy on her when we left home. We said goodbye and left. She stood at the sliding door, and trotted away once we closed the gate. While we peeped through the gate, we watched and laughed as we discovered how lithe Peanut was as she jumped onto the coffee table again for the trap we set. 

You see what I mean by calling her a “cat-dog”? The next time, she upstaged us. Jarred left a brown bag of biltong chips on the dining room table. The table was too high for her to jump up. She 

We learnt our lesson or so we thought. We came home and nothing looked amiss. Jarred reached for his biltong and the bag was empty. There was no evidence or a biltong trail. We looked for Peanut and she was hiding amongst the pillows on our bed. She was scratching herself and had obviously eaten the biltong. It wasn’t until much later that we caught her in the act on the dining room table, this time it was chocolate. Peanut froze when as we ran in. She then casually jumped down onto the chair and onto the floor. We realised that her petite size allowed her to squeezed past the chairs without moving them an inch. 

This trick by Peanut didn’t stop. Whenever we were out of the room, especially while I was putting Adriana to bed. She’d hop back up to then jump onto Adriana’s high chair to eat scraps. You’d swear she wasn’t fed.

Before I move on to the nitty gritty, I leave you with a funny yet dangerous story. Peeps loved the gas heater in winter, we were always worried that she’d burn herself. The one night, Charlie (my mother’s Boston) was over and the two of them were hogging heater. Peanut wanted to be the closest to it so she squeezed between Charlie and the heater. Charlie then lifted his head and bumped Peanut. As he did this, Peeps’ tail slipped between the bars and caught alight. It happened so fast. I shouted the dog’s on fire, Jarred jumped up to extinguish her tail. Peanut was oblivious to it, she was angry that Jarred was hitting her tail. Peanut had such long fur on her tail that the flame was far from burning her. It was such a funny scene, I howled with laugheter. It was like a movie. 

She left us with a library of memories that we’ll always cherish. 

Since January 2018 the seizures continued, it was twice a month until they became cluster seizures until the very end. 

We desperately exhausted all avenues, short of having a brain scan at the Bryanston Animal Hospital. She was treated for hookworm, that was supposed to be a sure thing to stop the seizures. 

It failed. 

Next thing, it was the removal the bladder stones. The promises of a healed dog after that surgery was fruitless. 

A month later we decided to say goodbye. She’d have up 5 to 6 seizures at least twice a week. I’d administer valium to calm her down and stop the seizures. I could tell it was intensifying as the fits were longer and she’d be blind for hours afterwards. Peanut was in pain and we decided it was time to say goodbye.

It was the hardest thing I had to do as an adult to decide to put her down. It was heartbreaking. The day was set in my mind after we wanted to spend one more weekend with her as a family. We allowed she to eat her favourite things like chocolate and biltong. Held her tight as we told her loved her.  

On Monday 28 May, I knew it was the day to say goodbye. The happy Peanut that would bark excitedly as I arrived home was not in her regular spot to greet me. It was a sign. I found her inside where I left her that morning wrapped in a blanket by her regular spot. My  helper, Patience said Peanut had barely moved. 

I just held her until Jarred came home.

I’d read up about euthanasia. I actually followed the advice of a veterinarian anaesthetist to ensure Peanut felt loved right until the end. The article spoke about leaving your dog’s collar on, as dogs can sense fear and normally associate removal of collars to things  that they don’t like, such as bathing or visiting the vet. 

The North Road Vet were incredibly empathetic to our family. They saw us last so that we could take our time with saying goodbye to Peanut.  

Peanut wasn’t scared. She look tired. I watched from the window as they put the drip into her arm before they brought her back to us in the consulting room. 

We were told the steps of what would happen next and asked if we wanted to stand outside. We’ve had many  people ask us why didn’t we leave. They even explained it would be “too much” for them to handle. We decided that as a family we’d be with Peanut until her final breath. Family doesn’t leave anyone behind.

Peanut took her last breath as we told her that we loved her. Just like that, she flew with angels.

My dearest Peanut we love you and miss dearly! 

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About Nikita Camacho

Entertainment and lifestyle writer using the digital space as her playground and work space.

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