Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Losing a family pet

I always considered Netherton family animals to be lucky dogs. My grandparents' shih tzu eats better than I do. Not saying I think it's model behavior, but if they eat a steak so does Cookie. 

My parents love dogs, too. Growing up, our house was filled with at least one animal my entire childhood. There are pictures of Chris and I running around in diapers and playing with our two lab puppies, Buddy and Skeeter. I've never been scared of dogs because I've been surrounded by them since I was a child. 

My parents have four dogs — Bella, Eva, Sophie and Chester (pictured above). They're a loving, well-behaved group, just don't leave Sophie in the kitchen alone. She's tall enough to eat the food right off the kitchen counter. 

The love of an animal cannot be described. It's unconditional, which is oftentimes so comforting. I have a miniature schnauzer who sleeps each night in the nook behind my knees. As much as it drives me crazy during the night, I can't imagine sleeping without him there. 

Saying that, I'll admit that I've been fortunate to enjoy a lot of doggie love and never experience much loss. And today, when my stepmom called to say Chester had passed away in his sleep, it felt like we'd lost a member of our family. 

For several years, the yellow hairs around his eyes had been turning white, but even with all the signs, it was easy to overlook the fact that he was getting older. He was always spirited, even last night when my parents were playing with him, he had all the energy of a puppy. 

I don't know what you are supposed to think about on days like today. The only thing that makes the news easier to swallow is the thought of how happily he spent his 12 years as a member of our family.