It's been a terrible year pet-wise. Okay, I admit we had a few too many. We used to run the county shelter and just had to save those in danger when the new management took over.
We moved to our new home with six dogs. A year later, Domino left us. She was a beautiful Border Collie/Australian Shepherd who had come to the shelter as a puppy. My county animal cruelty investigator ex never let her have too much fun. She was always told to lay down - no toys for her. After a while he started ignoring her and knocked some of her teeth out when she tried to get his attention. She became close to William and she followed me everywhere. As she got older, she became skin and bones and could barely move but the now-ex told me if I took her in to have her put down then he would let everyone know I killed his dog. The day she died, I came home and found her laying in the flower bed. I carried her in and laid her on a mat in front of the dryer. The ex, at the time, was pretending to be disabled, so he sat in the doorway and cried crocodile tears while William screamed to her not to go. With his Asperger's Syndrome he doesn't understand why people and pets we love have to die - do any of us really? After three hours of trying to keep Will from laying on top of Domino and not to scream in her ear. William suddenly told Domino "Jesus is here. He told me it's time for you to go with him. Go now, Domino. I love you." She looked at him, let out a long sigh...and was gone.
Almost two years ago, Scout joined us. He was a housebroken but other-wise untrained pain in the rear Greyhound/Jack Russell. Over time he has become the best dog. Still, we tried to re-home him because we had too many dogs. I kept telling the kids if we didn't have so many dogs, we could keep him. I advertised him, but no one wanted him. If only there weren't so many dogs...
Suddenly, we dropped from six dogs to two in just a few months.
Zoe was the first in this string of dog loss. I can honestly say she is in a better place. Zoe is a nine year old Chihuahua who came to our animal shelter when she was around two years old after being taken from her abusive home. She was adopted out but was abused by those people too, we got her back and she became William's little buddy. The ex would hit her in the face until she lost some teeth. After I threw the ex out, my Pomeranian would bite poor Zoe. When India's boyfriend decided he wanted Zoe, I was happy to give her a good home. After all, we had too many dogs to give her attention anyway. Now Zoe lives across the state, has another chihuahua friend to play with and is devoted to Cody's disabled Dad. We miss her, but she needs to stay where she is happy.
Next was my precious Timothy. He was my little boy, my constant companion. This little Maltese/Poodle/Westie came into our lives as a six-week old puppy as a gift for my oldest daughter and was a Mommy's boy until his much-too-early death in August. Like me, he was an abuse survivor. Having been thrown around by my children's father and later kicked repeatedly in the face by the same ex who hurt Zoe and Domino. He relied on me for his very life. He wouldn't eat if I was gone. He barked until I reappeared - sometimes going hoarse. In his last year he began to accept India as a substitute if he couldn't get to me. Timothy went blind early and I spent the next six years of his life talking constantly so he could find me. I believe the abuse led to his early death, and his last few months were a rapid downhill slide. No one was surprised when he laid down next to me and went into a permanent sleep.
Soon after Timothy, we lost Cassidy. She was our Pekingese. She was found deep in the woods one January day and was a temperamental and silly girl. We don't know how old she was but she came to us looking "up there in age". Like the other dogs, my ex had kicked several of her teeth out, so eating was difficult but she could do it. She only let me groom her - biting two groomers and an assistant. Even my grooming her depended on her mood. She gave kisses. Rough-housed with us and loved to be cuddled. When we first got Cassie she hated being picked up but as the years went by she would jump into our arms. Her one big flaw was that she loved to bolt out the door as soon as it was opened and run to the neighbour's house one-quarter of a mile away. That fateful morning, she only made it half-way from one of our driveway entrances to the other. As Matthew stepped out to get her he saw the truck and heard the thud. When I went to her, a truck was pulling in. I'm afraid I was abrupt with the man as I ran to Cass. But it was too late. She was gone. I carried her to a spot next to Timothy. Just outside my bedroom window. Andrew dug a hole for her, and there she sleeps.
But now my Belle. We found Belle in the woods across from our house not long after Timothy joined our family. She was about two years old and seemed to enjoy making us try to catch her. When the kids and I went on to the animal shelter, Belle was stuck in the back of the building because the animal kicker didn't like her. After a few years I was finally able to bring her into the house, just as we were getting ready to move. After coming to our current home, he was tossed out and the dogs could live in peace. Belle kept her love of escaping and wandering but always returned home. We have been watching her carefully this winter. Her arthritis has gotten really bad in her rear leg where she is missing a toe. Her hearing went and her eyesight was getting worse. Years of being hit in the head by the dog kicker had made her confused. She sometimes stared at us like she wasn't sure who we were. I worried she wouldn't make it through winter and told the kids we would have to put her down in the spring. William loved her. He just wanted her to stay with him forever.
Then the night came when the mudroom door wasn't tightly closed. The dog chain was shut in the door so it blocked the door from latching, although it seemed like it was. I had let Scout into the mudroom in the morning so I could let him outside when the kids got on the bus - without him running out with them. After I walked back into the living room, William reappeared at the door and let Scout in. I remembered that I had noticed the mudroom was really cold but in my haste didn't check why. When I went out there. Sugar, the Pomeranian, was sleeping on Belle's bed next to the washing machine, but the door was open to the outdoors. This had happened two days earlier and both girls were standing in the mudroom when I went to close the door. This time Belle was nowhere to be seen.
I wandered around the fields surrounding our property. I checked our barn. I stood on the top of our Hogs-back hoping to catch a glimpse of her. I went to the neighbour's pond, just in case... I've put ads up, contacted the local lost pet Facebook page. I can't call for her. Her world is silent.
It snowed last night. A big storm skirted over us but dumped a few inches of snow and freezing rain on us, on her? Did it cover her? Belle's leg doesn't like cold. It gives out after a few minutes.
Sugar and Scout keep trying to run outside after I unhook them when they are pottied, I think they want to look for her. Scout lays on William's bed and barks out the window. Is she outside? Did someone find her? Is she safe inside someone's home?
If I only knew, then I could stop worrying.
I miss her.