Yesterday was a rough day. Gini called me at work to let me know that our neighbor had called. Our Boston Terrier Celtic had gotten out of the house, laid down in another neighbor’s yard and died. I took the rest off the day off, and went to take care of things. As I went through the motions, it gave me a chance to ponder things like pets and life.
Celtic came to us unexpectedly. In May of 2010 (May 16th, to be exact) our (then) 6 year old granddaughter Ava, and her mother (Kristie) were living with us. I ran across a friend’s post on Facebook sharing her friend’s post about a dog they were looking to rehome. The ad said:
Someone stopped me at the dog park, needing to get rid a beautiful 5 month old Boston terrier. I said no, then decided I thought I could find him a home. Here is a picture if anyone is interested please send a personal email. He is sooo sweet.
He just looked so cute with those big ears standing up, I thought I’d give it a shot. I mentioned to Gini that maybe Ava would like a dog. She was willing, and so was Kristie, so I reached out to my friend, and met Kim and Celtic.
It turns out that Kim rescued Boxers. She happened to be at a park when she was approached by a young lady looking to give away her boyfriend’s dog. She (Kim) worried about who might take him, and even though he wasn’t a boxer, she decided to find a home for him.
Kim actually did a full-on interview with us. Where did we live, did we have a fenced yard, would he be an inside dog, who was our vet (we didn’t have a dog vet, only an exotic bird vet, but assured her we would take him to one), and a host of other questions. We passed scrutiny, and Celtic became Ava’s (and her mom’s, and Gini’s, and mine; if truth be told). This was what I posted to Kim’s post:
My Grandaughter (about to turn 7) Ava loves the new puppy. Her mom (they both live with us) loves him even more. I think my wife is about to tell them both that he’s really HER dog though. In short, he’s found a new home. As an added bonus, after having 4 daughters (now all grown) wife and a granddaughter in this house the last 15 years, there’s finally another male living here. I’m sure we’ll “bond” out of self-preservation if nothing else.
Celtic became part of the family. For whatever reason, he chose to sleep with my wife and me (I think it was because Ava tossed and turned a lot). At night, he snuggled with Gini (because I moved too much and wouldn’t really let him), but during the days, he knew I was the easy touch for snacks and “people food”. His passing hit me pretty hard. As I said, it was a rough day.
When I was growing up, we had a pretty steady stream of different pets. Unlike most folks though, my “growing up years” involved a lot of moving around. As a kid, I don’t think we ever had a dog that died on us. Some got lost, but most were given away to someone when it came time to move. We had very few pets of any type for more than a few months; and the few that died on us (rather than being given away to a neighbor as we packed the U-Haul) were parakeets, turtles, and a couple of rabbits. Never anything as personal as a dog, and definitely no pets that had lived with us for seven years. That may be the root of how Celtic’s death affected me more than I thought it would.
On the way home, it occurred to me that the “pet has died duties” seem to typically fall to the “man of the house”, at least in our family. It was my job to take care of his remains, try to figure out what happened, and worst of all, break the news to my Granddaughter Ava. Technically, Celtic was “her dog”; however, he chose my wife Gini as his true owner. When Ava and her mom got their own place, he stayed with us for financial reasons (the deposit for a dog at their apartment complex was just too high). They live right down the street, so Ava is still over regularly and she still claimed him as her dog. I knew that job was going to be tough, but figured I could gently explain it all to her. I’ve done this duty for my daughters a a few times in the past. As the girls grew up, we’ve had cats that died and some that had to be put down. We even had that one unfortunate incident with the parakeet who was fed too much bread. I thought I was fully prepared for the whole incident. Boy, was I was wrong!
I think my emotional attachment to my pets growing up was more of a “they’re visitors in my life”. Celtic was part of our family. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type that considers them one of my children, but he was definitely part of the family, in a way I had never experienced before.
Celtic gave a 53 year old guy the opportunity to have a “pet” in a way he never had before. Even though I’m old, I never had that growing up. This was new territory to me, and I wasn’t as good at it as I thought I’d be. The cats we had as the girls were were growing up were somehow different. Those were the daughter’s pets, and I felt bad when they died; but somehow, Celtic had found a place in me that I had never experienced before. I can’t explain it any better than that.
When I told my wife about his death, I barely made it through the conversation. When I told my daughter, it was almost as bad. When Kristie told me she would break the news to Ava, I felt guilty, but secretly relieved. This is all an emotional experience different than any I’ve felt before. I’ll repeat it again, yesterday was rough.
Celtic, you taught an old guy a lesson about loving pets that he should have learned a long time ago. I doubt we’ll ever find a dog quite like you. You;’ll be missed