Pets Are Family, Too
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Pets Are Family, Too

Through Thick & Thin, Pets Are Always There

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Pets Are Family, Too
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I was five years of age when I got my first dog. Our previous dog had died from being overheated, but I don’t recall much of it. I remember my neighbor calling my mom to go to her house because her dog had just given birth. I went out to her house and to the room the dogs were. She gave birth to around six puppies, and when I went inside they were drinking milk from their mother.

My mom’s friend came into the room and told me to take my pick. I looked at them all, most of them already pretty full of energy for newborns, and I chose the serene puppy that was the smallest and quietest. She told me she was the last one to come out. I wanted to take her home right away but I knew I couldn’t.

I chose the name, Lily. As she got older, I wanted her at my house more often so I’d sneak her out and take her with me. She still needed time with her mother, so she would always be returned. When she was old enough, she was with ever since.

I was also five years old when my parents got divorced. My dad cheated on my mom with a prostitute, and I had no one but my dog for a while because I stayed distant from all friends when I started school. I talked to her, I played with her and if I was asleep and someone opened the door, she would growl at them and protect me. I remember crying and she would run to me. I would pretend so she would come to the bathroom so we could bathe her.

As a kid, I tended to have a lot of pets. I had two cats, one that gave birth to five and whose boyfriend came over a lot, I had two fish, and eventually two dogs, as my mom took in a stray dog in order to save him. When my cat gave birth to the kittens, she left to be with her boyfriend and be independent, so Lily would pretend to be their mom. We honestly thought she thought she was a cat.

I was seven years old when she first got sick. She had black water or something like that in her lungs. She was almost dead, but with medication, she got better. My grandmother sold my cat without permission, my other cat died from age, and I accidentally killed my two fish when I was five (I blew bubbles and one fell in the tank) and never got new ones.

When I turned nine years old, I left to live in the United States. Lily had babies twice and one of them looked exactly like her. We left her with my mom’s ex-boyfriend when we moved. Lily flew countries with me and as I was in a country, she was all I had.

I moved states because my mom’s husband turned into a drug addict and we had family in Rhode Island. So, again, we packed our bags from Philadelphia while he was out at work and Lily was with us through the entire process to move states once again.

We moved multiple times. We changed furniture, we changed schools, we changed cities. But I always saw my puffy ball of joy and happiness. Since I was five years old she slept in my bed. She was always full of life even as she got older. She seemed healthy and loved to run.

But that changed when she turned 11 years old and she was diagnosed with a mammary tumor. I did not believe it at first, but I tried to stay positive. I thought she would be fine. We waited too long because of economical problems to get her scheduled for surgery, but they said after the scans that cancer had spread. She got on medication to try to prolong her life, and it worked for a while. We spent Christmas together, my 17th birthday.

On Sunday March 27, the day after one of my best friend’s birthday, she stopped eating. She was weak and she barely moved if at all. Her throat seemed to have closed. She didn’t take her pills. I tried to force feed her. I looked up how long I had until she starved to death, so I thought I had a few days left. I spent a lot of time with her that day, cuddling her, and she looked at me with her puppy-dog eyes full of pain, and she looked so weak and the joy in her eyes had faded. It was the first time I had ever seen her move around so slowly, it was the first time I had seen her not jump at the sight of me giving her treats or calling her name. It was around that time that when I came home from school, she wouldn’t be wagging her tail. It was as if she was training me for what was to come.

On Sunday night, my mom, her current boyfriend and I were playing monopoly. She slowly got up from her bed and dragged herself towards us, with the last bit of strength she had left. It was my mom’s boyfriend first night there. She moved towards him too, put her head on his lap and then moved on to me and my mom to cuddle. My mom and I got emotional, as she looked like she was saying goodbye. Animals can tell when they’re going to die, and I think she knew.

I had an essay for European History AP that I knew I wasn’t going to finish, so I was not going to go to school the next day. My mom went to sleep and so did her boyfriend. I was writing my essay, Lily on my bed. I took her to the kitchen to drink water and she did, then just kind of laid at a spot she liked and slept. I left to my room to finish my essay.

At around almost 2:00AM, I heard the noise of nails against wooden floor and a thud. I walked out, confused, and saw Lily fall on the ground near her bed. I rushed to her and sat down on the floor, held her in my arms as she breathed heavily. She slowly calmed down and gazed at me. I gazed at her back. Her eyes slowly shut close but her chest continued to move. I thought she was asleep until it slowly stopped and when I said her name she didn’t respond.

I started to shake her. She didn’t move. Her head fell back a little and her heart had stopped. I started to scream and cry. I got up and left her on the floor. I yelled for my mom and she rushed out, asking if she was dead. I fell against the wall and sat on the floor, my knees up, sobbing.

I didn’t move for hours. I just cried and cried. For the first time in 12 years, I slept alone in my bed. For the first time in 12 years, I felt absolutely alone. I didn’t go to school for about five days. My teachers gave me extensions.

I was not able to see other dogs for quite a few months. I still get sad on Sunday nights. I still feel emptier on Monday and I now have a valid reason to hate Monday’s even more. I still put a pillow in the spot she slept so the bed doesn’t seem so lonely. I walk past the spot she died and feel alone. A lot of times on Sunday nights, I dream of her.

I had her cremated and she’s still in my house. People think pets are just that -- pets. But pets are more than that. Pets are part of the family. Lily became part of me. She was part of who I was as a person and she shaped me, somehow, into what I am today. Thinking of her still makes me cry. Coming home to an empty house is still disappointing. I am now, many months later, looking for a new dog, but I know no one will ever replace her. Lily may be gone but I still sometimes feel her around. I hope she is, at least. I don’t believe in much but I’d like to. I’d like to believe she’s still with me. When Lily died, I died too. There’s so many things that went through my head when she died, but the main one was: If she’s gone, I’m gone.

My despondency has slowly left, but the memories and the pain still remain. Every day seemed like a sad anniversary. I’m doing better now, but Sunday’s and Monday’s make me sad. Looking at dogs make me sad and now when I look for dogs, I look at their life expectancy first.

I’m getting a husky soon. I don’t feel so sad. I hope Lily doesn’t get jealous. I’m sure if Lily was still around, she’s still making sure nothing is happening to me. I’m sure when I cry, she’s still nearby. I was there the first hour she was born, and I was there during her last. Wherever she is, she is not in pain, because the last thing I saw in her eyes was calmness, which was the first thing I saw in hers the first time we locked eyes.

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