Thursday, February 03, 2011


We had to put our sweet, little beagle, Pearl to sleep yesterday. She was a little over 12 years old and until a few weeks ago seemed as perky as a puppy. Sure, her muzzle had gone from brown to white and she was a little slower than she used to be, but we never guessed she was in declining health.

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, she got into a bag of cookies that were left inadvertently within her reach. I imagine Pearl sniffed those cookies out long before we left the house and was just biding her time. In her little doggie mind she was probably thinking, "Cookies, cookies. Leave the house, leave the house." And that's what we did. The four of us went out to the movies and then to dinner. When we got home there were two bags split open from top to bottom and not a single crumb of cookie remained. She hung her head when we fussed at her, but it was probably to hide the smile.

A couple hours later she was sitting in her little child-sized rocking chair and her tags started to jangle. Joel looked at her and she was trembling violently. We got her outside just in time. She didn't feel very well the next day and declined to eat. We weren't troubled by that; after all she had consumed a couple dozen cookies! Pearl hardly ate anything that week and when she tried, it wouldn't stay down. I took her to the vet and found out that she had jaundice and a fever. The vet took some blood, provided me antibiotics for her and said if she didn't get better in a few days it was probably serious.

Pearl didn't get better. She wasn't interested in eating and lay in her doggie bed all day. She would get up to go out and do her business but sometimes we had to carry her back up the steps. She would be shivering and trembling and we put a heating pad on her to get her warm; or sometimes one of us would hold her in his lap until she warmed up.

We couldn't leave her alone in the house anymore. She couldn't eat and was losing weight. Sometimes it seemed like she was perking up, but it didn't last. Finally we realized we had to do the humane thing for Pearl and we made an appointment with the vet. Don and I took her in and the vet put her to sleep. It was heartbreaking.

Pearl is buried in our backyard--the place where she loved to prowl and play and run. The house has an emptiness without her sweet companionship. We mourn her loss; but are thankful for her good life, her big heart, and the joy she brought to our family. Rest in peace, Pearl.
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Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have been musing a lot lately on an article I recently read on Loss. Unfortunately I can't remember where I read it, other than on the internet. Which brings me to a bothersome Loss: Memory.

My memory just isn't what it used to be, and becoming more and more so all the time. In college I could memorize vast amounts of information. My freshman year I took a history course from a professor who would spend the entire classroom time talking about what must have been his passion: Western Civilization. And I took copious notes, filling 1 1/2 composition books of notes each semester.

He had a reputation of giving very difficult tests. I was not daunted because I intended to memorize my composition books of notes . . . and that is exactly what I did. I was invincible when it came time to take his final exam. I flew through the exam, knowing every answer. I'm sure the professor thought I must have bombed the test since I handed mine in so quickly. How I enjoyed the look on his face as he graded it and discovered I had aced it.

Now why did I tell that story? Oh yes, to mourn the fact that my memory is not what it used to be. But that story describes a different kind of memory skill; I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday quite often. I don't remember movies; can't remember titles and authors of books I've just read that I really enjoyed. I could go on but you get the point.

Sometimes I exercise my recall skills by trying to think back over each day in a week and remember what I did each day, what I cooked for dinner, what I wore and other things. Occasionally I can do it. Sometimes it's a total blank. I make excuses for myself: I'm stressed; I've got too much on my mind; I'm tired. And I think those are all probably valid reasons for my memory impairment.

Not being able to recall like I used to do is a Loss for me. Which is why I make notes and lists, keep a journal, take vitamins, and play memory games with myself. On the up side, my movie collection stays very fresh.