It distressed me so much to be away from Ching, that I proceeded to make a nuisance of myself by asking to sleep on the floor next to her, in a makeshift bed of sorts. I had seen where she would be left, and it alarmed me. The room was very basic with many iron cages, one on top of another. Ching would be placed in one, but in her own bed, inside of the cage. There were no other animal neighbours. The staff were going off duty for awhile, but I was advised that Ching was in no danger and could be left alone to sleep. She had an intravenous drip in her tiny leg strapped to her skin, so she could not have pulled that out.
I tried my hardest to convince the surgeon it would be best if I stayed overnight with Ching. Initially, my attempts were flatly over-ruled. I persisted and told the surgeon that I had been a nurse (the truth) and could keep an eye on Ching the entire time. That way she would not have to be alone, even for the few hours when the staff would be absent for the night. The surgeon said she would give it some thought and allowed me to come in and see Ching. Although it was meant to be a quick visit, I persuaded the surgeon to let me bring Ching back home with me. Ching was groggy as she tried to focus on me, but she managed to wag her tail a few times.
She was a mess and looked like a slipper, with half of the fur missing! One side of her body had been trimmed off for the surgery. Her tiny thigh was bandaged, (with the elastic stick-on type) close to her body. Her foot had also been bandaged and placed in a sling close to the top of her back. That way she would not catch it on anything. Since she went to toilet in a cat’s tray on paper towels, it would be no problem to lift her in and out.
The time was now about 3 am, and Paul had already gone off to his bedroom to sleep. Ching kept overbalancing, as she was not used to walking on three legs. I must admit laughing quite a bit at her antics. There was a look of surprise on her face, if one can imagine such a thing on something so hairy. I carried Ching upstairs to my bedroom and settled her into her bed. I placed her right next to mine, by the nightstand. I also placed a cushion in front to seal her exit, in case she tried to get out by herself and go to her tray. I had already placed her smaller tray in the room with us, so I did not have to carry her downstairs to her usual larger one.
I fell asleep, but suddenly awoke and immediately put my hand into her bed. I expected to feel what fur had been left on her but I felt nothing! Ching was gone! I was now wide awake and shot out of bed. I looked madly around everywhere. Once I had exhausted all the places upstairs to look, I ran downstairs to search for her.
There she was! Sitting on the hall carpet. Somehow, miraculously, she had managed to get into her larger litter tray which I kept under the stairs for her. Even more amazing, she had managed to get herself out of it again. That was hard enough to believe, as the sides of the tray are as high as her legs! As I went to Ching, I saw that she was all tangled up in her sling. There was no way she could have put her leg down, so she must have rolled all the way down the stairs. The sling was twisted, and the elastic adhesive bandage had moved way down her tiny body. Her leg with the bad hip was free, and she held it up in the air.
I cried so hard as I gently picked up her little body. All I could think was that she must have permanently injured herself. David, the vet, had told me that I was to ensure the leg stayed in place, or she would be prone to many dislocations! I picked her up and held her thigh against her body, making sure as much as I could tell, that her leg was still in its socket. I only had one free hand to cut the bits of bandage off to re-do the dressing. I desperately needed my glasses, but my main concern was to keep the hip in place, so I had to secure that immediately. I held her thigh against her body whilst carrying her. Ching seemed unperturbed by all the fuss.
Before I could do anything else, I had to cut bits of her long hair that were attached to the adhesive bandages that had slipped down. Since I could not see properly due to the tears streaming down my face, I accidentally cut her skin. The cut was deep enough to bleed, but Ching did not even react, except to shoot me a glance. Instead, it was me who howled hysterically. I really could have done with some help, but Paul heard nothing as he was still fast asleep in his room. He slept soundly, so there was no point in my calling out to him.
I managed to cover the wound with gauze and a small band aid then re-did the whole dressing. I used the spare ones provided by the surgeon and put the sling back in place. All the while Ching tried to crawl up onto my shoulder making this all even more difficult.
I took her back up to bed, but this time placed her in mine, surrounded by pillows. That way if she did get out, she would have to walk over my head if she planned to go anywhere. Fortunately, she did sleep this time, although I found it impossible to do so. I kept tapping her gently like a baby, to keep her asleep. The next morning she did not seem to be in any pain, but she still fell over every time she tried to walk. She would give me a look as if to say, “What have you done to me?”
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Two days later Paul and I took Ching back to David, as he had requested. He wanted to examine her leg to ensure it was still in the right place. I was horrified that he might see the cut I had accidentally made on her. He could not tell with the bandages on, but if he started to cut them all off to check, he would see what had happened. I had already told him about her literal ‘trip’ down the stairs, but omitted my dastardly part in the whole event. However, my fears were soon realized when my mistake was revealed.
The cut turned out to be deeper than I originally thought, and the edges of the skin had not gone back together! I started to cry again at how much it must have hurt her. I admitted to David what had happened, but he was preoccupied with other problems. When he pulled the bandages off from Ching’s shaved skin, (done by the surgeon for her surgery, not by me!) her top layer of skin came off too! She must have had an allergic reaction. Ching’s exposed skin became bright red, dotted with speckles of blood.
Then, as David pulled off a particular bit of the bandage, it pulled off skin that went down into her flesh enough to become a wound. As if she did not have enough to contend with. First, there was my carelessness, and now the extra pain due to her skin ripping off, though through no fault of David's. The skin was raw all around her tummy and thigh, due to a bad reaction to the adhesive bandages. Ching looked like a part of freshly killed chicken leg about to be cooked with beads of blood all over it! Yuck! It was horrendous to see.
David said he would have to staple the wounds together before he put the dressings back onto her. He had the added job of keeping her thigh close to her body at the same time. I knew the pain that would come with this procedure. It was too much for me. In floods of tears I fled, leaving her in Paul’s care whilst I waited outside until it was finished. I could not believe it! I heard Ching's screams, even from outside the building through the open front door! Strangers who walked past must have thought the worst. I did not care that they saw me sob. The whole thing had been my fault. If only I had bathed her as I usually did, none of this would have happened to my faithful little friend.
Eventually, it was all over and she was newly bandaged. This time, there was no elastic stuck on her skin. The dressing was tightly wrapped with the sling on, and she was comfortable again, showing no sign of the trauma she had just been through. We returned home and gave her some tasty meat, as a treat and change from her Eukanuba dry pellet food that Ching normally ate. After this she attempted to walk. We were in absolute fits of laughter. She was constantly off-balance and continued to roll over, but she kept trying. At least she was not in any pain.
After a few days she got the hang of it and walked all over the place quite proudly. She could even hop up the stairs again with the use of just three legs! Gradually, she started to walk around normally. The hopping was hardly noticeable.
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When it was time to take her back to David to have the dressings removed, all was well. Her wounds had healed, even though she would not put her leg down. She had grown accustomed to it being up in the air, or perhaps she was afraid that it might hurt. She gave me a strange look. As though I had done something else that prevented her from walking, when she had just learned a new way.
Within two days, Ching lowered her leg and walked normally. The surgery was a complete success. The one difference noticeable was she walked slower, and she did not bound up the stairs the way she used to. Also, she was no longer able to jump up on the settee or onto my bed and used the bean bag to climb up instead. She was either sore or had lost her confidence. I cannot be quite sure, but I believe that she started to sleep more too.
She stopped her game of chasing me through the lounge, into the kitchen and back in our other arched doorway, to arrive back in the lounge again. This was the only game she loved. Apart from humping her furry toy elephant that was three times her size. I thought that strange as she was female. Sometimes she moved so fast up and down on it, that she would topple over onto her head and still keep going. As she had so much fun doing this, I never stopped her, except in public. I only had to remind her firmly, “Not now,” and she would stop immediately.
A few months later, she seemed to walk differently. The injured leg was held a bit stiffly, but David, the vet, said the hip was fine. Ching had just turned thirteen, and was equivalent to a seventy-three year old lady with hip trouble. I suspected arthritis may have been setting in, but she never showed any sign of pain. Her leg never gave way, she just had a different sort of gait to her walk. Ching had always been very brave and never cried when she got her shots.
She was never that keen on ‘walking,’ as she much preferred to be in my handbag. She could see everything much better and did not have to dive out of the way of human feet. She still loved to come out with me. In fact, when I got ready for the day, she watched intently. If I put my shoes on, she jumped into the handbag and waited. Sometimes, for over an hour!
I wished Ching could sit in my lap once in awhile, as she used to before. Her hip must have caused her problems because she found it difficult to get comfortable.
Meanwhile, events had moved on with my husband and myself and he moved back to the other home, while I stayed in my own house. There was much trouble from him, while I pursued my divorce but luck was on my side when I met a wonderful man from Chicago, USA. The offshoot was I moved to Chicago with him and brought my Ching with me.
Just before Christmas (2004) we noticed Ching was only interested in food every other day. She had to be hand-fed more often to get her to eat. I kept encouraging her by saying, “good girl,” over and over. Each time she picked up the food and tried to chew. She did this just to please me. At times, the food would fall out of her mouth as she really did not want it, so I never tried force her. Ching was losing weight and wanted to sleep more than play. Eating became more sporadic and her movements much slower. She only became excited and performed that special dance when her food was being prepared. Fillet steak, tenderised beef and specially prepared chicken with the sauce she loved, cooked by Rocky, who is now my husband.
But, Ching kept on losing weight, and we were very worried. Her back and hip bones began to stick out. We had taken her to a Chicago vet before it had become this bad, and he said she was getting old and could no longer absorb enough nourishment from her food. He also said to keep an eye on her, as a blood test revealed a kidney was not functioning properly.
Ching drank water very regularly, and we were told this was good as it helped to flush her kidneys out. She never seemed to be ill or in any pain, but she now preferred to sleep for much longer periods of time. I never considered she might be reaching the end of her years. Rocky suspected this but kept his thoughts from me. He knew I could not bear to think about this event. In the last two weeks we occasionally heard whimpers emanate from her bed. When I checked on her she was sleeping. I would then touch her to get her out of what I thought were ‘doggie dreams.’ Toward the last few days, Ching would come and say hello but soon went back to her bed. She mainly came out just to get something to eat, drink or to do her toilet. She vomited occasionally, and always made it into her tray to do this.
With each passing day, I became very worried. Ching slept more, but I thought it was due to my sudden limited activity and me not showing her as much attention as usual.
I was still recovering from a radical stomach operation from October 2004. I was still in great pain and unable to bend much at all. This meant I could not reach her to give her the usual loving. With each passing day I worried more, as she was content to sit in her bed rather than stay by me. I also wondered if my lack of moving around much and her not following me around as she used to, may have contributed to her muscles getting weaker from lack of exercise. I deeply regret being unable to give her as much affection as I normally did.
But I did place her bed in front of me, wherever I was in the house and she was able to follow me around with her eyes, or she would place her chin on the edge of her bed and look at me the whole time she was awake. I continued chatting to her and she still listened attentively with her head going from side to side. I often asked her if she wanted to come to me, and if she leaned forward as if to say yes, I managed to pick her up for a cuddle.
One evening, during the last week of December, Ching cried out. By the time I got to her she had cried out again. I found her sitting in the middle of my ankle boots. They are just a bit taller than her, so she could easily have picked herself up if she had the strength. I was surprised that she did not even attempt to get up. I gently picked her up. She was quite lethargic and stayed in my arms. It was usual for her to want to get down after ten minutes or so, but this time she just stayed put.
After awhile I suspected she wanted to go to her toilet tray, and I placed her on the floor. She walked crookedly towards it and then wobbled as she put her front legs over the sides to get in. I helped her and was very upset to see that she was unable to stand up without toppling over. When she had finished her business, I picked her up and she curled up into my neck. I felt very anxious that she was content to stay there without moving. I did not want to disturb her from that position, so I walked around with her while I got on with various things.
After a short while, I heard her breathe deeply. I looked at her, and she was indeed asleep. She had not slept in this fashion since she was a puppy. It was then that I realized something was dreadfully wrong with her. Occasionally, she moved her position to get more comfortable, but as she was happiest to stay curled up under my chin, I let her stay there.
I made myself as comfortable as I could on the settee and spent the night in that position. My husband-to-be telephoned the vet, and asked them to phone us as soon as they arrived at their Chicago surgery. The phone rang early in the morning, and we were scheduled for the first appointment. I tried to excite Ching about coming out with us, but she showed no reaction which frightened me further.
It was the first time ever that she was not excited about going out. My fears were compounded when I asked her if she wanted chicken and she did not turn her head from side to side, as she always used to. It was one of her little idiosyncrasies, whether she was hungry or not. I was so upset that I decided to take some Valium, just in case I might receive bad news from the vet.
Before we left, I held Ching and tried to get her to drink. She loved her water, day or night, but this time she was not interested. She felt quite floppy in my arms, and it frightened me very much. We showed Ching her handbag, but again, there was no reaction. Normally she leapt into it. Sometimes, in her excitement to get in, she would do a somersault and land right over the other side of the bag. At other times she would jump in so fast and land upside down and struggle to right herself.
There was no doubt that Ching was very ill. I took out her warm, pastel blue blanket and wrapped her in it. She just lay still as I placed her in the handbag at the bottom, not moving at all. Normally she would sit up. I knew what was going to happen, even though I could not bear to accept it. I began to grieve before reaching the vet. I almost wanted to turn back.
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At the surgery, the vet asked us to stand Ching on the table. She managed to stand, then began to wobble. The vet was a very kind man, and he picked her up and took a careful look at her. The expression on his face said it all. He said she had become so bony because the nourishment she should have had from her food was not being absorbed at all. He then said that the toxins from her failing kidneys had permeated her body and were poisoning her slowly. She had taken too much of it and had lost all of her strength. He said things like, "Ching was ready to go, and it would be kinder not to let her suffer anymore." I was so choked up that it was hard to hear his every word. I just stared at Ching through a haze of tears. Nothing seemed to be real. Silent tears were falling down my cheeks.
I do remember him talking about cats having kidney transplants, but when I asked if Ching could have one, he said the DNA could not be matched for dogs as yet. I was desperate to think of something I could ask for to save my baby. Ching felt every bit as precious to me as a child, because she had taken the place of one. She had been on my mind and in my sight every day for fourteen years. I could not imagine surviving this heartbreak. Never again to see the love in those large brown eyes, waiting for some response from me.
The vet said he would leave us for awhile so we could think about it.
The minute he went through the door and closed it behind him, I lost control and cried very loudly. Hurt and anger coursed through me, thinking about what had happened to her. I cuddled Ching the whole time, and looked at that little face with her tiny nose and now half-closed eyes, which still tried to look back at me. ‘How could I put an end to her?’ I could not imagine life without her. My thoughts were selfish, but she meant too much to me to lose.
We knew it was the only thing to do now that she had become so weak. She was far too floppy, and it felt as if she were already dying. There did not seem to be any other choice to make. I nodded to my fiancee who was having a real hard time keeping his own emotions under control. He called for the vet, to tell him of our decision. Meanwhile, I kept kissing Ching’s head and repeating "I love you," over and over. She knew these words and I hope they comforted her as she looked at me with those expressive brown eyes.
When Ching was about to receive the sedative, I kissed her again and asked her to kiss me back. She tried to lean forward, but did not have the strength to put her tongue out enough to kiss my nose. But, I knew she wanted to. Her eyes told me she loved me. I wanted that connection to last forever.
The shot in the back of her neck was quick, and soon she was completely floppy in my hands. My left hand was under her head, while my right held her tiny bony body. I lifted her face up to rest against mine. I wanted to be as close to her as possible. Every so often she closed her eyes and seemed so peaceful. The sedative worked, but it seemed to me as if she knew she would not suffer any longer. I repeatedly said to her, “go to sleep, go to sleep,” just like I had done when she was younger. I actually used to send her to sleep with this method.
I kept this up, and it became a mantra to me. I felt calmer and realized that Ching was doing what she craved most, nowadays. Sleep. Her eyes suddenly opened wider and she looked straight into mine as a smile crossed her tiny face. Both of us saw it. Then she closed her eyes.
She continued to breathe very slowly, and she looked so serene. The vet returned and asked me to place her on the table. I laid her gently onto her side, but kept one hand stroking her head and the other holding her shoulder. The vet quickly inserted the needle into the top of her paw, straight into her vein. His stethoscope was on her chest, and within a few seconds he quietly said, “She’s gone.”
I felt relieved and had the most tremendous sense of loss all at once. He checked her heart a few times and confirmed that Ching was definitely gone. I could vaguely hear the vet ask what we planned to do with her remains, and whether we wanted the ashes. Immediately I replied that we were taking her home with us. He nodded, then said he would settle up the account later by post, and for us to go straight home. I thought this was very kind of him, but I was unable to thank him. I could not speak and hoped her spirit had stayed with me. I needed her so badly.
I placed the blanket around Ching’s body and rolled her into it. Around her head too, but not covering her face. She looked as though she was just asleep, except I could see that her life had gone. Her whole body and her face now had a sunken look. After laying the blanket with Ching’s body in the bottom of the handbag, we zipped it up and left. On the drive home, I kept peeking at the bag on the back seat. I had no idea at the time what we would do, but I just knew that I could not leave her behind, cremate or bury her. Her spirit might be gone, but the precious creature I loved and cuddled was still here. I still loved that lifeless, tiny furry body.
When we returned home, we placed the handbag up on our rooftop garden, with a chair resting against it. The weather had luckily turned extremely cold, and the body would stay frozen until we would decide what to do. For two days I was a heap of emotions and could not stop crying. I was in so much emotional and physical pain. Even with the Valium, I was a total mess and found it unbearable, knowing I would never see her weenie face looking back at me ever again. Very cagily, my fiancee mentioned he had come across a taxidermist who freeze-dried animals and pets. He told me that they remained looking so lifelike.
Ching’s body could be made to look like she was still alive and would feel soft to the touch. I felt such relief. This was just the answer, as I would not feel as if I were discarding her. I would not have to imagine the grisly destruction of all that remained of Ching, and I would still have her with me.
It may seem morbid to some, but as I could not part with her, even dead, this seemed to be the only way I could cope. That is what will be done with my Ching. She will be freeze-dried, and returned to me. I shall be able to see her every day, just as I did before her death. I have been assured that she will feel soft, and l will be able to stroke and comb her hair, if I choose. Though I do not imagine myself doing that.
Ching's facial expressions will also be very realistic because of the freeze-dry process. Her eyes, which had developed some cloudiness during her later years, will now look clear and brown. Just as they used to.
I can feel Ching’s spirit sometimes. We can hear some of the little sounds she used to make. I am not scared, but happy that she wants to be with us still. I know that she will only stay as long as she thinks we need her, or, as long as she needs to. Knowing I shall have her body back, gave me relief from thinking I had completely lost the most adorable pet I have ever owned. I have loved some other tiny dogs before, but I never had one for fourteen years, nor one so clever, obedient and loving.
So, I was extremely lucky to have kept Ching from ten weeks to fourteen years of age. I was so privileged to have been allowed this exceptional, extraordinary, intelligent, and loving tiny Pomeranian.
At least now, I will be lucky enough to have her freeze-dried body with me for as long as I live.
Her full name was; 'Ching Tooder Marooders De-Ville.'
I will never forget her, nor will the many people whose lives she touched.
'Ching,' the tiniest big-hearted Pomeranian is running around happily and in good health, with other spirit dogs now.
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Copyright © 2005 Donni-Jay De-Ville
All rights reserved and may not be
reproduced in any way without permission from the author.