This morning we had to put down Girdie, our puggle. She was suffering from complications due to craziness, crustiness, and general assholery (not exactly the clinical terms for what was described to us as doggy dementia). She wasn’t always like this, but we’ll get to that.
First, let me tell you about her last meals. Girdie teetered between 19 and 23 pounds for most of her life even though she would have preferred to have been somewhere in the 30-pound region. The bitch could put it away, and in her 12 years, we were unable to find her bottom, as it were. We always said when it came time to arrange Girdie’s grim reaper consultation that we’d let her indulge her cravings to the fullest.
To prime her for her last meal, I gave her four days worth of her normal food for breakfast. She ate all of it in a time that would have impressed Usain Bolt and Takeru Kobayashi. Later that night, we ordered her a medium, thick-crust, meat lover’s Brizio pizza — eight pieces — and she finished it all. In fact, she even growled at Becky’s attempt to reach in and cut up the last piece so that it might go down a little easier.
Before the pizza, Girdie had hips; after, she looked like a cylinder. The same size belt that would have fit around her chest would have fit snugly around her waistline. She looked more roly-poly than puggle. Still, we had not hit Girdie’s bottom, but she did whine and pant a little, no doubt from the carb IED that was working its way through her colon. Throughout the night, she managed to keep the pizza down and in (those seem like the right prepositions), and because she still seemed hungry in the morning, we went to MacDonald’s and got her the Deluxe Big Breakfast. She ate all of it except half of the English muffin. We had finally hit bottom. I’d love to tell you that it was a glorious moment of ecstasy for Girdie — fulfillment at last! — but it was not. She was ashamed of her own gastrointestinal inadequacies and spent her last moments at our home pacing the backyard until she decided on a place to bury the English muffin for later. Or so she thought.
We put her in the car and took her to the vet, her rotund fattiness making it difficult for her to stay balanced each time we took a turn. I won’t describe too much of the rest of the experience as even my morbidity has its limits. But even on her death bed, Girdie aimed to impress. The vet administered propofol to relax Girdie — the same drug that made Michael Jackson beat it — and for a brief moment Girdie gave us kisses the way she did before she was an anxiety-ridden, aggressive little turd. But then, ever the glut, the vet had to give Girdie more propofol, three times the dose for a dog her size. She indulged all the way to the end.
Now that she’s gone, and in the interest of celebrating her sweet little life, let me regale you with some of Girdie’s greatest hits before the doggy dementia turned her into a psychopath.
* She loved crayons. That is, she loved eating them. And afterward, she would paint the lawn with rainbow-colored piles of shit — a veritable canine Pollock. We may auction some originals once her death inflates the price.
* On a break from writing one morning, I decided Girdie needed eyebrows and she obliged this inspired idea. Still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
* Ever motivated by food, Girdie — in a single day — learned to sit, lay down, speak, shake, roll over, play dead, and army crawl. She could have learned calculus if peanut butter was involved.
* Girdie loved to rough house, and many times I put her in a head lock and performed a professional wrestling-style suplex. During these same bouts, I would also launch her into the air and onto the bed, her floppy ears catching the wind like wings in her descent. She flew (or fell…?) with the grace of a Blue Angel.
* She often asserted her dominance and humped other dogs’ faces. Sexually, I guess you would say she was dyslexic. Most notably, she humped Brian Schnurle’s dog Armani. Seriously, though, if you name your dog Armani, it deserves to get humped in the face. Also, Armani, why couldn’t it have been you?
* She once ate a blueberry muffin, the big Costco ones with the thick, waxy wrapper. She ate the wrapper, too, which passed the next day. No, passed is too passive a word. The wrapper launched out of her ass like a projectile, like a mortar on the Western Front.
* She also ate a half a corn cob once. Six months later, we thought she had eaten one of the heart meds that my mother-in-law had accidentally dropped. When we had her stomach pumped, it turned out that she had not eaten the heart meds, but she did expel the corn cob, which her stomach acids had whittled down to the size of a golf ball.
* When I took her on runs, I often used one of those long retractable leashes. She would run up ten yards ahead of me, lay down, wait while I ran ahead of her ten yards, and then she’d catch up and do the same all over again. Like any great coach, she could taunt and encourage simultaneously.
* After each of our kids were born, we brought them home and bundled them up on the couch. Girdie jumped up and licked their bald heads, lovingly and sweetly. Every instinct she had told her that she was theirs and they were hers.
* Finally, there was that one time Girdie wrote our holiday letter. Rather than tell you about it, here it is.
As it turns out, Girdie’s ashes will be returned to us in a couple of weeks, and they will be encased in a small pot that, if buried and watered, will turn into flowers. I didn’t ask, but I really wish it could have been venus flytraps instead of flowers. Seems more appropriate given her appetite.
For the record, I wanted to stuff Girdie and keep her around the house. She’s always been something of a conversation piece and that would have continued the tradition. But Becky’s morbidity limits are stricter than my own. That said, my genes did seep into Sammers who wanted to have Girdie skinned and turned into a bathroom rug so he could warm his toes on her after his showers. My boy.
I imagine we’ll bury the ashes in the same place that Girdie buried the English muffin. She’ll have those calories one way or another .