It's never easy when a loved one passes away. They say time heals wounds, but honestly, the pain of loss never truly heals entirely.
On April 23 2012, a creature that I called my "daughter," (who would have been 10 years old on May 29th) was taken from us. Her name was Meira. She was half husky, one-quarter german shepherd, one quarter lab, and one heck of a character I'll never forget!
For those of you out there who are animal lovers, you know exactly what I mean when I say we recognize our pets as members of our family, and also their personalities—and let me tell you, Meira most defiantly had hers. So, if you would please, take a few minutes to read my tribute for my Meira, (and also comment). It would be most appreciated.
So here we are, my wife—(fiancée at the time) and I, seeking out Meira's place of birth, just after we saw the flyer at this little gas station in Selkirk, New York. I had called the number on the flyer and had talked with the guy, asking him for directions. Eventually, we pull up the long driveway, notice a large fancy house with about two acres of beautiful open grassland, and even a couple of purebreds wandering about. (I forget the actual breed, so, let us just call them grey hounds).
"Ooo! Looks like they have lots of dogs around here!" I had said to my wife, excited. Remember, we were going there expecting to see a Husky and a german shepherd/lab Mix strolling about. We knock on the door, a man comes out, and of course we tell him we're there to pick up the puppy. He calls the owner on the phone, talks with her a bit, and then hangs up and tells us she's on her way. I look at him and say, "I guess I must have talked with the husband a little while ago." He smiles, and for about five minutes we have small talk, and I eventually grow bored (as Darshun does in my Guardian of the Seventh Realm series whenever small talk arises), and I finally ask, "so, where are the puppies?"
He answers, "She'll show them to you when she gets here."
I say, "I see she has a couple of types of dogs besides a husky and a shepherd mix."
He tilts his head and comments, "She owns Husky, only grey hounds.”
That was when Melissa and I realized that we were at the wrong house—all that time! And here the owner left work, and is on her way home, and probably expecting to be getting a thousand dollars or more from another customer, when all we were looking for was a "mutt." *laughs*
So after an apology, and of course getting the heck out of there before the owner arrived, I called the number on the flyer once again to ask for directions…once again. I felt like an idiot, but getting our puppy was worth the embarrassment. Once there, and cruising up the driveway, we were relieved to see the mother husky strolling around the yard. Yes, we had made it to the right house this time. *smiles*
It was a type of farmhouse, and to be honest, neither my wife nor myself cared much for the owners. They had a bit of a cold aura, but maybe they were just having a bad day. Anyhow, they bring all of the puppies out, and the little things were all running around and playing, all except for this one tiny black and tan pup. Abandoning her siblings, she alone strolled over to my wife and licked her face. Immediately, Melissa said, "I want this one!" Welcome home, my Meira.
Away in the car we went, and as every puppy does (every puppy I’ve ever known), she cried, obviously missing her siblings and her mommy, and now in a strange environment. She calmed down after a little while. I remember taking her to PetSmart, putting her in a shopping cart, as we strolled around getting her toys, treats and puppy food. Then we took her to my job site at the time. It was a brand new neighborhood being built, and for fun I showed my wife the inside of an unfinished—yet safe to walk into—three-story house. We went inside with Meira, sat, and talked about her, and also to her. I can still clearly see little Meira in my wife's arms as Melissa was sitting. We were very happy. And to finish up this little story, we stopped at McDonalds on the way home, and bought her a plain hamburger. She wouldn't touch the bread, but she did gobble up the meat. *laughs*
Meira was definitely her own character (as all animals are), but she made us all laugh. She insisted on taking walks—whether I walked her or not. Everyday after work when I would come home, and let her out, she'd get all excited, jump on Fawn (my shepherd/golden retriever mix), then she'd go potty, and slowly wander down the hillside of the yard. Eventually, all you could see would be her big fluffy husky tail wagging, and slowly disappearing out of site. Then she’d make a run for it before I could get her back, whipping through the tree lines and into the woods she would go, and always return from the opposite side of our house, about twenty minutes later, wanting her supper. I always wondered about her little adventures, what she saw...where she went, etc. Sometimes she’d come back muddy and drenched, no doubt took a swim in the little shallow stream.
She loved the outdoors. She loved my wife's pet rats, and would even growl at the cats if they came near them, as if she was their protector. I think the thing she'd cherished most was her love of food. She'd eat every single scrap in her bowl. She'd even try and sneak the leftovers in the bowls of the other dogs, and when we'd catch her we'd shout, "Meira! Get out of there!" She'd start eating and gobbling up that food so fast, until it was either gone—gobble up by her, or taken away by us. She just loved to snoop around for scraps of human and/or cat food also. I even caught her on all fours walking on my parent’s kitchen table when she was about 3 months old, looking for food. As she got older she was getting a little tubby, no, a little too tubby that I had to put her on a diet. She lost a little weight, and then I put her back on regular food, she gained the weight back, and also additional weight (of course me feeding her table scraps every other night couldn't have helped, but hey, it made her happy), and so back on the weight management food she'd go. She especially loved bones. Every now and again I would get her the beef bones with the marrow in the middle, and every late winter, after deer hunting season would end, she'd return out of the woods with a deer leg. One time she returned with what looked like a deer spine, LMAO! I never took it away. She loved it too much.
I also called her my "Lovey Dovey," because of how she'd mush or snuggle her head against you, or against the floor while you'd pet her, (and God forbid if you stopped, because she would immediately look up at you as if to say, "more pets, daddy! More pets!"), or she’d give me a hug by jumping onto me and gently kissing me. That's the thing about her, she was big, solid and tubby, but she was gentle. You never had to be afraid of her taking your hand off when sharing people food with her. She'd always take it so gentle.
Probably the funniest thing she had ever done (besides chewing away the ONE branch that my nephew was holding on to from keeping himself from sliding down a snow covered hillside one winter) was a time when my father-in-law Baxter was burning the brush in early spring. Meira, and her love for sticks, walked up to the pile, reached down, and picked up the lower end of a five or six-foot branch—while the rest of it was enflamed! I admit, while I was nervous, I also laughed my arse off as she strolled around the yard with it, looking ever so happy, as if to say, “daddy, look at what I got!”
She also definitely had that stubbornness of the husky in her. She, in a way, was her own boss. You’d tell her to “come,” she’d just look at you, look another direction, look at you again, and then either listen (after she had made the decision to listen), or run or even walk off! Talk about adding insult to injury against me. Then she’d come back looking ever so happy. God, do I miss my Meira dearly.
Want to why we named her “Meira?” Funny thing is, before we had gotten her, my wife and I used to play an online game together called “Dark Ages.” Our characters in the game were dating one another. We’d go on our little adventures, chopping down monsters and leveling up our powers. My dude’s name was “Chevron.” Pretty horrible, right? My wife’s name was “Meira,” and both of us really liked that name. And as we were driving away with her from her previous owners, both of us thought she looked like a “Meira.” Although I must say, we didn’t play Dark Ages that much after that. Part of the reason was I was growing bored with it, but also the concept of me “dating” a Meira was...well, a bit weird. *laughs*
Her nick name became “Wall” because it flowed with “Meira Meira, on the wall,” but mostly because she was solid like a brick wall. If she wanted out of her kennel, she would find a way out. If she wanted out of her harness—no matter how well-equipped it was attached, she found a way out. If she wanted the cat food, she’d break through the “barricade” I would sometimes make, whenever I wasn’t looking.
Now, on to the part that is not so humorous. Last week, I noticed she was acting strange. She wouldn’t touch her food, which was not like our Meira. She also looked like she was in discomfort. I gave her a couple of chunks of my chinese food to see if she would eat it, and she did, immediately, and happily. So I thought, maybe she is tired of the Taste of the Wild: Salmon I had been feeding her. The next day I came home with Buffalo Blue Chicken and Brown Rice, Weight Management, and she ate it, like normal, and even looked around for scraps of food in the kitchen, like she’d normally do, with her love of food. But I decided to take her to the vet anyway. The vet checked her out, and said that now that she is getting older, she’s probably developing arthritis in her legs (which would explain her limping, and slower movement within this last year). They gave her her kennel cough shot, and lyme vaccination, then we left. On the way home we stopped and got her a dish of soft vanilla ice cream. She lapped it up, happily. Everything seemed fine. She appeared a bit peppier as the weekend went by, and my wife and I even shaved her, as we do ever spring because of her thick fur and her hate of summer’s heat.
Then on Monday, April 23 2012, after work, I go into our house, while my wife retrieves the dogs. As Meira strolled outside from the basement/garage of my in-law’s raised ranch, she just fell over. Melissa screamed for me. I looked out the window, and saw Meira on the grass, and I knew—by the look on Meira’s face—that something was seriously wrong. I ran outside and went to her. She was shivering, and was having trouble breathing. Wasting no time, I picked her up by myself—never minding the fact that she’s 107 pounds and could’ve hurt my back, placed her in the car, and we rushed to the vet on an emergency call.
The vet found that her blood pressure and temperature were dangerously low, and found a lot of fluid built up in her belly. I helped the lady carry Meira into the x-ray room, and in a few minutes, we discovered that she had an enlarged heart, with fluid around it, and also backing into her belly, from what I can remember. Just about this whole time I was in shock. Everything was happening so fast, and unexpectedly. The doctor said there was still a chance for her to live, perhaps a week, a month, or possibly another year. They gave her lasix, in hopes to drain the fluid, and then planned on putting her on meds to continuously help keep the fluid out. But...Meira knew. Our Meira knew it was her time.
She wasn’t nervous. She wasn’t frightened, not even of the shots they were giving her. She looked at me, I at her, and she kissed me on my lips with her wet tongue. I had been petting her, spilling my tears onto the back of her head, kissing her head, hoping it wasn’t the end, but...she knew it was her time. Still, hoping for a miracle, we decided to leave her there over night, hoping she’d pull through, as the vets would watch her. I gave her my brown flannel—a flannel I really loved, and one that looked good on me. I left it with her so she’d have my scent over the night. Kissing the top of her head one last time, I said, “I love you. I always have. And I always will.” We started walking out. I turned around to look at her one last time, she looked directly at me, again having that peaceful and calm expression, and then she glanced upward at something. I don’t know what, but something caught her eye. I turned around and we left.
We get home, and almost immediately my wife has the sudden urge to go back. Then the phone rings. It is the vet. Meira passed away about 15 minutes after we had gone. She was the type who, if she had gotten the chance, she would have wandered into the woods to find a place to die. Both Melissa and I, in our tears, knew she did not want us to see her pass away, so we believe she held on as long as she could, until she knew for certain that we had gone, and then...she let go. We went back to the vet to see her body, and say goodbye one final time. We even took her sissy Fawn with us so she could see her body, and say goodbye also. We decided to get Meira cremated, so her ashes can always be with us, wherever we go. And I asked the vet to please leave my brown flannel with her, to get cremated with her as well.
I must say, I have had uncles pass, and other pets and animals too, but...Meira’s passing has been the hardest pain of loss I have ever felt. When you’re a child (at least for me this is true), and the pet that your parents get you eventually passes away, you cry, of course you do. But when I became an adult, and chose to bring Meira home as a member of our family, where I was the one responsible for her health, to keep her up to date with her shots, to feed her and the like, well, that bond for me was so immensely deep. She wasn’t my “flesh and blood” daughter, no, but she was my “daughter,” if you catch my meaning, and I’m sure you do. It is so difficult—so difficult! coming home from work now, and not having our Meira here to greet us, to jump on Fawn, and then run off for her walk, only to come back to eat and lay with the rest of her pack, her family. It’s so difficult seeing her fur still on draped over the grass from when we had shaved her this past weekend. It’s so difficult seeing her food bowl still on the floor in the kitchen, and looking in the places where she would often lay down in our house, and not see her there now.
I know death is part of life. It is a difficult part of life, one that we all will face. And at the same time, it is, as I truly believe, a transition into the next realm of reality. Yes, I do believe in an after life, even for animals, as silly as that may seem to people. We are animals too, are we not? Over the years I have read an “encyclopedia” of material about spiritualities and the universe, and I’ve experienced many inspiring and strange events and feelings. I even witnessed an apparition when I was a child. I remember it as clearly as this day. Do I understand the afterlife, how it can be so? I do not. Perhaps one day, when we have the proper tools and technology, it could be explained in a scientific matter, as we unlock the many mysteries of this strange, phenomenal universe we exist in, and also the energy of it.
I believe Meira is in another place now, a realm of infinite possibilities, containing all that one needs in order to be happy, docile, and satisfied. I believe Meira is indeed at peace, and with a Higher Power. And I believe that Melissa and I will see her again when it is our time to “transition” into that realm.
One last thing I’d like to say. The fact that there is so much violence, death and darkness in this world...the fact that people commit such horrible crimes, to people, animals and nature Herself (something I bring forth in my novels), at the same time, there is good in this world. When Meira was a puppy, and I was outside with her under the stars of nightfall, I remember looking down at her while she was looking up at me, and I thought, "she's so beautiful...adorable. She's a tubby little thing, who likes to eat, but she's happy. And I know there are thousands of dogs out there who either get abused, or abandoned and/or euthanized. I wish I could save them all. I really wish that. But if not, I saved one, I saved Meira. We gave her a home; she became part of our pack, our family...her family, and I will take care of her until the day she passes.”
I love you Meira, with all of my heart. I always have, and I always will, my “wall.” We’ll see you when it’s our time. :)
Meira Wall Baccaro
May 29 2002 – April 23 2012
Just comment below for your chance to win. I'm so sorry for your loss Jason. I have felt this type of pain too.