this post was slightly inspired by la midge’s guest post over at emily jane … although the endings are far different, her story reminded me so much of the love an owner has for their pet. thanks for the post, ladies!
back when m and i were dating, we spent a lot of time with our friends chris and kelly.
kelly was tall, dark-haired, soft-spoken and a whopping 3 months pregnant. chris was tall, bald, covered in bad tattoos, with a soft spot for little ol’ me. it was a bad environment mostly- the drugs were ever present, the liquor was always flowing, and chris and m always had inexplicable anger inside of them. chris and kelly had two dogs- damien: a big, sloppy, happy black lab. and angel: an abused, sad, lonely shephard ridgeback mix.
when they adopted angel, she had broken ribs, cigarette burns, and a sadness in her eyes i couldn’t bare. she was afraid of everyone, mostly males and children. it was to my understanding that the previous owners beat her senseless on a regular basis. this beautiful dog had suffered more in her three years on this earth, than most people ever would in a lifetime. when chris and kelly brought angel home, she was distant, angry, and down right terrifying. growing up with cats, i was always afraid to go near her when i’d stay at their home.
when kelly was nearing the end of her third trimester, they’d realized the safest thing for the baby was to get rid of angel. chris, having grown so fond of her, couldn’t bare to let her go. he asked m if he’d be willing to take her.
m worked a lot. he only ever had tuesdays off and spent over 10 hours a day at the shop. at this point, i was still in high school, living part time at m’s apartment in the city and part time at my parents’ home in the suburbs. on weekends, angel and i only had each other. i started noticing her little quirks- the way she snuggled her way between m and i at night, how she would cry so loud (such a human cry) any time we left the house, the way she would run after squirrels and DESTROY them in under 7 seconds.
all angel needed was a little love. we gave her kisses on the mouth, played with her in the living room and took her for walks. we let her sleep in our bed, eat dinner with us, and come for car rides. we brought her to m’s mother’s house and the beach. she became our little girl. when m would leave for work, i’d curl up on the yellow tweed sofa to watch the price is right, and she would lay beside me. she would let me wrap my arms around her and rest my chin on her head. when m would come home, the three of us would sing in the hallway and hold each other. this dog soon became the most important being in my life.
you see, m was an angry man. and it’s only later that i understood the sadness angel had in her eyes. the sadness of a battered woman, of a little girl who wanted nothing more than to be loved. sometimes when we lay in bed together, i would run my fingers over her broken ribs, or the burn marks on her pink belly. i would pet her softly and whisper to her how much i love her. how much i would always love her. i would take her big floppy ears in my hands, kiss them over and over and tell her how pretty she was. i used to be so scared of her, but i fell in love so fast.
when m and i found a tiny little attic apartment in the heart of chinatown, our landlord made it very clear that angel was not to live with us. although devastated, we thought it best to leave her with m’s mother and two brothers. his mother got off work early, and the boys never worked. angel had a bigger home with a bit of a yard. and as far as we were concerned, this was what would be best for her.
m’s mum fell in love with angel as fast as i did. she had her own spot on the couch, they watched flip this house together, and she seemed to be doing so well. m and i visited often- we’d bring our laundry and stay over night. we’d cuddle our big puppy and give her so much love. she’d jump into our laps, give us kisses on the face. she seemed so happy.
have you ever heard of the saying “she died of a broken heart”?
well i believe that’s what happened to my angel. a few weeks after m and i had settled into our apartment, his mother called me to let us know that angel wasn’t doing very well anymore. she’d stopped eating and she was very lethargic. the happy-go-lucky dog we’d loved so much was dying.
i know she missed us. i know in my heart of hearts that she was so sad from being away from us, that she just refused to go on, despite her new life. m’s mum brought her to the vet, found out the bad news, and gave us another call.
angel needed surgery to save her, and we didn’t have the money.
m’s mum wasn’t well off by any means, m and i were paying $700 for a tiny apartment in the city, and i hadn’t eaten in weeks. we needed to come up with a couple grand to save our baby, and we couldn’t do it.
m’s mother had to put angel down. we cried on the phone in the middle of the street when she called us. we cried in the apartment when we thought of her. we cried in bed when she wasn’t sleeping with us.
a part of me aches when i think of my sweet puppy, but another part of me thinks it was for the best. it was only a few short months after this, that m and i’s arguments became physical. it may sound silly to relate so much of my life to the life of a dog, and i’m fully aware of this. but i like to think when angel and i looked into each others’ eyes, we understood each other. we felt one another’s pain.
rest in peace, baby girl.