We couldn’t stand the loneliness after having to put our precious Schnauzer to sleep almost seventeen years ago. It was sudden and shocking and we were beside ourselves.
We didn’t want to feel that emptiness one more day.
Only days later, we met Stella.
Stella was everything that our sweet senior Schnitzel wasn’t. She was spunky and fearless. We never saw that in our timid Schnitzel the Schnauzer because we rescued him from the humane society.
We described him as a near case of “Dead Man Walking” because he hadn’t been adopted due to being isolated with kennel cough. We were told his days were numbered before we walked in.
We chose him anyway. We loved him for seven years. Pretty good considering he was fourteen when we lost him, but not enough for us.
We spent only a few days researching. We needed a dog that was good with kids, didn’t shed much, and pretty good with allergies.
We narrowed down our list and hunted and then made the trip. We were on a healing mission. We needed the grief to stop.
Honestly, I’m not sure who picked who, but before we knew it we were headed home with our new fur girl.
She was a wired fox terrier with the sweetest face and unique markings. She looked like a stuffed animal although she was full of life.
Only days after bringing her home, we headed to the ocean for a planned vacation. She loved the beach and the wind in her face. She wanted to sniff every grain of sand no matter how long it took.
Potty training, all training really, was horrible until we became the Alpha dogs in our pack. Her favorite thing was pulling money out of my purse and running by us with the bills between her teeth.
She got into trouble…a lot. We couldn’t help but compare her to our beloved Schnitzel. She was a tyrant. He had been a saint.
Over the months and years, that changed and we fell madly, deeply for Stella.
She was used to a certain quiet life until the boy came. I imagine that she thought he was a temporary guest, but soon realized he was not.
During naps, we had our own private resting time on the couch. She laid with me as if she needed the break just as much. Maybe she did.
Once we heard the baby stirring through the monitor, Stella would sigh and jump down knowing it was time for baby boy squeals and cries. She tolerated his plump hand petting and grabbed licks when she could, trying to get food from his mouth before I cleaned it up.
Stella was an active part of the family for many years.
Then twelve came and we started to see a slowdown. Shorter walks, less play, but spurts of energy with her favorite toys.
By thirteen, there was more sleep and stiffness than playing. We were worried. I know thirteen is a lot in dog years, but it wasn’t enough.
We had heard that sometimes getting a puppy can bring life back to a senior dog. We also knew there were some risks, mainly that our plan would backfire.
We brought home our playful Labradoodle. Luckily, the new energy to our house gave Stella a reason to wake up. She cared about her toys again. She got up when someone returned home through the back doors. She cared about breakfast and dinner again.
We got more than two years more of Stella because of a real sibling bond she had with Summer.
It worked great, until recently.
We knew this day was coming. For a while we all saw it coming and we didn’t want to. We didn’t talk about it and we tried to ignore the obvious signs until we couldn’t anymore.
I didn’t want this pain again, but I also know that it comes with the territory. If you choose to love fur children as hard as we do, there’s going to be pain in the end.
Goodnight, Sweet Stella.