This Holiday Season.....
"I'll Be Home for Christmas"
An Original Piece by Isabella Ribeiro
Saturday, December 19th, I realized how much our dog meant to me. In other words, two days ago we had to put her down. Our dog Ana had been our faithful companion for sixteen years and has never failed to bring happiness, compassion, joy, love, gratefulness and more to our family of six, now five. Yet this past week her energy had started draining and she lost her ability to stand up. Not being able to stand was more than it sounded. Being a border collie and therefore a natural sheepdog, she was so upset she had to be carried everywhere she would howl until someone came to sit with her and calm her down. The last day, this howling was joined with aggression and whoever went to calm her down was always greeted by a growling, annoyed dog. She developed a sad expression on her always-joyful face and she began to look like she was no longer enjoying life. So on Friday we made the hard decision.
Ana was the reason we joined several friendships. One of the least expected was with her vet. The vet came at least once a month and soon we grew accustomed to seeing each other. Then we went to a restaurant together. And then she brought us chocolate. And soon a friendship had been formed. But this vet did not have a license to put animals down so another vet did the job. The last I saw of Ana was the doors to a pet ambulance being closed and then the ambulance turning the corner of our street. Later, our real vet came for tea and also to start helping us through our dogless journey. She told us of her experience losing one of her dogs:
“One of my dogs had a condition with her brain due to which she was constantly circling around even at night so I had to fence her in so I could sleep. Then after she crossed the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ I was constantly hearing something move around in the bathroom for about a week, for that is where I put her most of her time, and I kept thinking it was her. So there was still no sleep for me for a couple weeks. And then there was one time six years later that someone said to me that there were a dog with me. They didn’t know her name, but they described that dog perfectly. So it turned out she still was protecting me all this time.”
It was later that day when I began to think about this. The vet’s dog had stayed with her for at least six years, and was probably still with her. Did all dog spirits do this, or was this a one in a million chance? I wondered if Ana was with me as I thought this. No, she was probably outside chasing sheep and catching squirrels, two things she had never got to do in her lifetime. There was so much for her to do and so much time for her to do it in. I bet she was still having trouble remembering all of the names of the deceased that she met. On the other hand, maybe she wanted to come down to Earth for the first night she was gone. To protect her humans and the only ones who stayed with her all sixteen years. All dogs she knew had left her a few years earlier. This sounded more like the Ana I knew. Loyal and friendly, staying with her humans even after the very end. Maybe I only thought this because she was with me my whole life and I can not imagine living without her. On the other hand, I think no one can love another more than a dog can love their owners. I am pretty sure she will be with us several more times in life, and forever after that. But when exactly could I count on her coming back? Christmas, probably. If there is one thing she would not like to miss, it would be Christmas. It was always her favorite time of year. All dogs probably come back for Christmas. Lots of family, lots of dog treats, lots of human food… That is probably just what a dog would want. At least I can take courage in knowing that, if nothing else, Ana will be home for Christmas and we will be a family of six once more.
-This was written for a dog I can be sure will come home for Christmas, if only in spirit.
~Isabella is 10-years old and lives with her family in Carol Stream, IL.