Posted by: morrowsl | January 28, 2016

A Tale of Two Canines

Sunday, it turns out, was our beloved Dillon’s last “good” day.  Things very quickly went south for him.  He stopped accepting food, eventually drooling with what I can only assume was nausea when I put warm food in front of him.  His legs became too weak to hold him up.  He stopped searching the room for me.  Stopped meeting my eyes.
He told me, as only an animal can, that he was ready.
I called and got the first available appointment for him with his favorite vet and vet tech, and together the three of us helped him to a peaceful and dignified end.
I managed to make it back to my parked car before the ugly cry started.  Then, off and on for the rest of the night, I mourned my sweet boy.  I walked outside late last night, under a crystal clear sky, as I’ve walked while waiting on Dill to make his slow and deliberate rounds each night for the last couple of weeks, and I whispered goodbye one last time.
I know there are so many people who say, “It’s just a dog” and to those people I can only reply, “To you, yes”, because he became, in the eleven years that we had him, an equal member of our family and our house.  We will miss and mourn him no less than if he’d walked upright and hogged the bathroom.

But now, with a changing of the guard, I have a far greater task at hand.  I have to find it in my heart to allow Holly to take Dillon’s place.

When Marc first found Dillon at an SPCA adoption, he’d had every intention of making Dill his dog in his home.  But a guy that works a 24/48 routine and lives alone is a poor choice as a dog owner.  Dillon soon made things difficult and Marc was forced to surrender him to the ‘rents.  We all easily adapted and before too long there were other dogs in both houses.  At one point we had four dogs total, all over 40 pounds, in a house with a yard that a Chihuahua would scoff at.  That didn’t last long.  When the smoke cleared we were down to two – Dillon and Holly – both surrendered by a couple with great intentions and big hearts, but little else.

From the beginning, my relationship with Holly has been strained.  She is very much an Alpha female and Dillon was every bit a submissive male.  I couldn’t stand that.  He owned both his Chow DNA and his red hair.  He bristled and barked and bared his teeth with all the nasty aggression he could muster, sometimes even managing to make me leery of him.  But the part of his DNA contributed by some wayward Golden Retriever was the laid-back stoner boyfriend of my teenage dreams and I refused to believe he had anger management issues.  He just needed to get in touch with his Alpha side and hold on to it.
I fed him first.  I addressed him first.  I deferred to him in all situations, believing I would train him to be the second-in-command after me.  Eventually he stopped his submissive presentations to Holly, but she never bought it.  And perhaps when my back was turned, he didn’t either.

When he began to have trouble keeping his feet and finding his way, Holly saw her opening.  She pushed him aside, sometimes knocking him into doorways or table legs.  She ignored him as if he were already gone.  She took a lunge at him last week over a dropped Vienna sausage.
That is the part of animal behavior I detest, even as I know it is nothing more than survival mode.  The stronger animals will always overtake the weaker ones.  And, unfortunately, the weaker animals know all too well that this is as it should be.

So.  Now.  Holly is the only dog we have in this house.  She and I have had years of dismissing each other as we stand on either side of the line drawn in the sand.  I have my work cut out for me.  I know that she will love me unconditionally.  I just have to be willing to accept her.  I know that she is a sweet girl, if a bit high maintenance and hyperactive.  She is likely very trainable still.  I have only to put forth the effort to let her know what’s wanted.  And she certainly deserves to be well-loved.

This morning I pulled out a can of the somewhat expensive food I’d been buying to tempt Dillon and I spooned it into the bowl with Holly’s kibble.  As I served it to her, I told her that it was one he really liked and that I knew she would as well.  It was good to see her eating heartily after so many attempts to feed him ended in refusal.  I called the vet’s office and scheduled a bath for her.  She is yet again in the throes of a UTI and the resultant leaking has made her coat dingy and she stinks.  I think this weekend I’ll see if Mike wants to go out and get her a new bed and maybe a new set of food and water bowls.

None of this will matter in the least to her.  But it will make me feel less guilty for having been so obvious.

I think I’ll finally break down and buy a new pair of walking shoes as well.  Because, of all the things that Holly truly loves, walking is at the top of the list.  And then I’ll turn a new page in dog ownership and begin a journey with this beautiful Husky girl.  We may never have the sort of relationship I shared with the Red Dog.  But I owe it to her to try.





  1. This was beautiful Auntie Moo….I know the feeling all too well but with cats….. *BIG BIG HUGS*

  2. You got this Mama…. New shoes , new day, new beginning. We women hardly ever throw in the towel with hands in the air, we never lay down in defeat ! Pull up those big girl panties, tie those new shoes , put on some lipstick and smile at the hairy alpha beast and tell her “WE GOT THIS” with a smile. Our hearts are bigger than we think and we always make a little room for just one more.

    Big hugs my friend. Tomorrow …. One day at a time.

    • Thanks, Ronni. I moved her food bowl to the spot where I’d like it to be from now on, which is also the spot where his was, and she was so upset. She is used to being pushed to the back and is not comfortable being first. I hate that I’m the one who did that to her.
      It took some coaxing and encouragement, but she finally did come and eat her b’fast. So, we make progress!

  3. This is so, so hard. I know I’m staring down the barrel of it with Thomas. So many hugs on the loss of Dillon. I’ll be interested to see how Holly changes now. ❤

    • I knew this would be a hard loss for me. Sally was tough, but the Old Man was very likely my heart dog. And outliving him easily the hardest blow my heart has taken in many years.
      Thankfully, Holly is a “mature” dog now and, while still infuriatingly high strung, she at least listens. Sometimes.

      Hug sweet Thomas for me, ok?

      • Absolutely. And hug yourself for me.

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