And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the [little] dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:27)
This last week was a sad one for June and me. We had to say goodbye to our 15-year-old, geriatric Chihuahua, Nacho. Nacho, although surprisingly full of energy, was showing his age. He limped, albeit quickly, on his arthritic legs. Sometimes his right shoulder would lock up, and he would cry out in pain, and after a gentle massage from me, he would return to his “normal” self. He was losing his hearing and sight, which made him aggressive toward our other two dogs if they approached him unexpectedly, especially when he was trying to eat. Eating was another problem. By now, he had lost several of his molars, so he had difficulty chewing his kibble.
The last month or so, we noticed that Nacho was losing weight. Nacho was big for a Chihuahua – a lean ten pounds – so he did not have much to lose. We could count the vertebras on his back and his ribs were beginning to show. His weight loss concerned us, so we started feeding him soft canned food, but that did not seem to help. Finally, he started urinating all over the house, even after going out for a pee-pee run. He had never done that before. We concluded this was the beginning of kidney failure for the old guy.
June and I are moving to Nebraska next month. Unlike Texas, Nebraska winters can be brutal. We thought Nacho would not do well in that cold climate, with his skinny, arthritic body. That and the fact that he would be going to an unfamiliar house that he would have to navigate with his poor eyesight. Then there were the bladder control issues. We thought about putting him up for adoption, but who wants a geriatric dog with multiple health issues that could linger for another three years? (Chihuahua’s can live up to 18 years.) Oh, and did I mention that he exhibited signs of dementia? Sometimes he would walk into a room, stop dead in his tracks, and stare as if he forgot why he came into the room.
So, we thought it best to have him put to sleep. I was stuck with the dirty work, and it ripped my heart in two. It was all I could do to maintain my composure and not break out bawling there at the animal shelter. I reserved that for the drive home. June met me when I arrived home, and we embraced and cried all over each other.
It is funny – not funny, ha ha – how an animal can take over such a large part of our hearts. I had a love-hate relationship with Nacho. He was neurotic. He was skittish. He was aloof, almost cat-like, not warm and loving like most dogs. He was loud. Oh! He was oh so loud! But we had our moments. When I would reach out to pick him up, he squirmed away as if I was about to beat him (I never did), but when I finally picked him up, he would lick my face out of obligation (I think). Still, I loved the weirdo.
Nacho loved to sing along when anyone sang. I remember one Fourth of July when June and I were visiting family in Nebraska. We went to the Fourth of July parade in Platte Center, NE, and we took Nacho along with us. Before the parade started, a high school girl stared singing the National Anthem. By the third measure, Nacho was loudly singing right along with her, and I could not shut him up. I was so embarrassed!
When I was growing up, my parents would always sing “Las Mañanitas” on our birthdays. We have kept up the tradition, and when my siblings’ birthdays come around, I call them up and sing “Las Mañanitas” to them. Nacho was always ready to join in. He stopped singing when his hearing dimmed. Even when I held him and sang, he stopped joining in.
He also howled when I called him by his “full” name – Ignacio Panza Con Patas Carrasco. (Panza con patas means “belly with feet.”) It was the funniest thing. I would say his full name, and he would start howling. I do not know why. Did he understand he was being insulted? I don’t know, but when we had guests over, I would always entertain them with Nacho’s antics.
Nacho came to us when he was about eight weeks old. He was about five inches long – about the length of our TV remote control. He gave us a lot of his love in his own weird way. He had a way of “talking” to us in a way that made himself understood. He was really smart. I will miss him. I am sure that if there is a “Doggie Heaven,” he’ll be there. I miss you, Viejo!J