I lost the love of my life, Pekingese Audrey Pearl, on October 15 of this year. In addition to chronic epilepsy and a heart arrhythmia, in the last year of her life she lost her sight and hearing, developed chronic bronchitis and finally, advanced lymphoma.
I wrestled with the decision to say goodbye for weeks because Audrey was nothing if not a fighter. My mom called her a force of nature. The last day of her life was the worst day in mine.
Audrey was my shadow, my familiar and my beating heart. I still think of her often throughout the day and ache when I remember that she’s gone.
I don’t share these things to make you feel sorry for me. I share to honor what she meant to me and in the hopes that anyone who has faced the loss of a beloved pet will relate.
I know many of you met Audrey or enjoyed pictures of her online. It has taken me a long time to be able to write this post.
The days after she was gone and I was alone in my apartment, my tortured mind started playing tricks on me. I kept waking up thinking I heard her in distress. Though I had anticipated waiting some time before I brought another animal in the house, I quickly realized I couldn’t handle the overwhelming loneliness.
Two weeks after her passing, my friend Megan was visiting for our annual Halloween celebration. The night she arrived was the first night in a long time that I slept soundly and through the night. But I couldn’t keep her.
Megan loves animals as much as I do, and encouraged me not to replace Audrey, but to open my heart to another furry baby.
I wanted another little black-furred girl. I’d just been through hell with my older dog, so I knew I wasn’t ready for a senior dog that I might only enjoy for a brief time.
And no one loves the little Pekingese smushy face more than I do. But a lot of Audrey’s health problems might have been caused by the sad fact that the Pekingese genetic pool is very limited. I have come to learn that many purebred dogs are plagued with health problems that are passed from generation to generation. It makes me sick that organizations like the AKC promote purebred dogs as somehow superior. Since they are more desired they become more valuable. Lines are over-bred and the dogs are the ones that suffer.
I decided instead to adopt a mixbreed Pekingese in the hopes that the influx of another breed’s genes would make for a healthier pet.
After checking every local rescue organization I could think of, and failing to find a young, female, black, mixbreed Pekingese, I took Megan’s advice and searched on puppyfind.com. And that is how I found Matilda Beast.
Matilda is a Pekingese poodle mix, a peekapoo. I adopted her from a breeder in Wyoming. Three weeks after I said goodbye to Audrey, I drove to the airport to pick up the teeniest, fluffiest and most adorable puppy I’ve ever seen.
She seemed so fragile and vulnerable. The first night I brought her into bed with me and kept startling awake to make sure that she was still alive.
I’ve never had a puppy-puppy before. I knew she would be hard work. I did not know that she would be a demon hellhound. She demands constant attention. She climbs on me, scratches me, bites me hard enough to draw blood. My bare right arm now looks like the arm of a chronic cutter.
Her favorite toys come from the garbage: empty toilet paper rolls, empty pill bottles, and wrapping paper.
Audrey always slept in bed with me (until the very end when I was scared she’d walk off and get hurt). So I assumed Matilda would sleep with me as well. But she’s a little pee monster in the bed (she’s practically housebroken now, except when you put her on the bed. Then she pees as fast as she can). One night during the first week, I woke up with the weird feeling that I was wetting my bed. It’s been well over twenty years since that’s happened. I looked up in blurry confusion and found Matilda, crouched on my underwear, peeing right on my crotch. Needless to say, she no longer shares the bed with me.
Matilda is the Energizer Bunny on bathsalts.
Sometimes I hide in the shower from my four pound, three ounce, four and a half month old puppy.
We are learning to live with each other and bonding bit by bit. Were she not the cutest little monster, I would’ve flung her out the window weeks ago. I believe with patience, training and maturity she will transform from hellion to angel (ok, maybe not angel, maybe more like mischievous imp).