by Marinka on July 20, 2008

Sometimes my husband and I have different perspectives regarding our children. For example, if in response to “so, children, do you have a dog?” my son will say: “Yes, her ashes are in the closet,” my gut says that it’s time for a new, less cremated dog. My husband, on the other hand, maintains that our son was just answering the question. A typical Q&A, if you will. In bizzarro world.

Mavis died in June 2004, a few weeks after Ronald Reagan. She died after a short illness, a crucial part of which involved my waking up my husband at 4 am, asking him to take her to the Animal Medical Center and spending the next three hours on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. I’ll spare you the details. No, there is no way that you can ever repay me, so don’t even try.

Then I googled “how to tell your kids that their beloved pet died.” Even though she was still alive, I knew that the end was near. She was 13, a very Jesse Helms age in Basset Hound world. She’s been failing for a while. And the latest bout made it obvious that we could no longer take care of her. I didn’t think that it was necessary to wait until the vet actually pronounced Mavis dead and the Pope’s physician hit her forehead with a little silver mallet.

One thing that I learned immediately was that I had to tell the kids that the death was final. This was a real slap in the face to the Buddhist in me. Fortunately, however, the Buddhist in me has been slapped around so much already that he hardly noticed. I had to stress that Mavis was very, very, very, very old and that we will miss her and then ask if they had any questions. I did this as soon as they woke up, to get it over with.

My 6 year old daughter cried a little, my 3 year old son took it in stride. Then my husband called.

Apparently, after waiting at the Animal Medical Center for three hours, with some ferrets and cats, Mavis was diagnosed with a mild infection, dehydration and was expected to make a full recovery. (My husband, like Rudy Giuliani, was diagnosed with an adverse reaction to people who keep ferrets as pets). Although this was certainly great news, I had a minor problem on my hands. Somehow I would have to google “resurrection” and explain to my children that although death was super final, Mavis was now undead. Because there was no way in hell that I was going to cop to telling them that Mavis was dead before she really was. What kind of a freak does something like that to her kids?

Mavis never made it out of the hospital, and neither did thousands of our dollars. She had many diagnostic tests, all of which were inconclusive and required further testing. At some point, we were ready to let her go. I cried so much that my husband ended up being the one to call the pet cemetery, on the theory that the more hysterical the bereaved, the more they will charge. He estimated that according to my emotional state, Mavis would be laying in state, next to Ronnie.

Now we are dogless. The kids and I are very pro-dog, but my husband is holding out. He cites the expense, the mess, the inconvenience. But on some level, I think that he hurt as much as I did when we lost her. Even though he got a bargain basement price for her remains.

One year ago ...

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice July 20, 2008 at 5:20 am

I’m so sorry bout Mavis – it’s hard to let pets go. But I fully appreciated your son’s answer to “do you have a dog.” : )


Madge July 20, 2008 at 5:26 am

my two sons and i are missing our cat we lost a few months ago. my husband, a cat-hater, thinks the dogs are enough and says he has convinced the beagle to become a cat.

we’re not buying it.


Marinka July 20, 2008 at 6:43 am

Thanks, Alice. It is hard when they die. Although not having to walk her in the horrible weather makes it a little easier.

Madge–I’m sorry about your cat. We don’t suspect that your husband had a hand in it, do we?


wfbdoglover July 20, 2008 at 7:14 am

So sorry about Mavis. Our cat is 16 and our dog 8. I am dreading the day…..


Marinka July 20, 2008 at 4:06 pm

WFB–thanks, it is terribly hard, isn’t it?


wfbdoglover July 20, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Terribly….. Our cat is starting to loose his footings if he turns and moves to quickly or like yesterday, he slipped on the hardwood floor step. We had to put an ottoman at the foot of our bed for him to jump to and fro. (sigh)


Always Home and Uncool July 20, 2008 at 5:49 pm

The only fault with dogs is that their lives are too short. Good work, M. I know how you feel.


Jill July 20, 2008 at 6:33 pm

We have a 7 year old Labrador Retriever. My girls love the pooch – though she too has cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars for her ailments and accidents over the years.

I can’t imagine when that day will come… How horrible for you and the kids.


Melissa July 20, 2008 at 11:31 pm

We put two of our cats, 16, and 17 down last year and it was really hard. I can totally empathize.

But the moving on is good, too.


Kristine July 21, 2008 at 9:41 am

As much as the dogs make me crazy, I wish they would live as long as we do.


selphie July 21, 2008 at 7:01 pm

what a beautiful dog.

What’s wrong with having a pet ferret?


Black Hockey Jesus August 1, 2008 at 7:06 am

I admire a graceful blend of humor and pain. Well done. That line about the less cremated dog = Hilarious.

And sorry about your dog.


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