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All Dogs Go to Heaven

Jamie joined my family in January of 1999. Through the years he was a fantastic pet, a fantastic dog and he brought joy into our lives. He died last night. We love you Jamie! He will be missed.

My ear­li­est mem­ory is of our dog Gretchen, lick­ing me and knock­ing me over onto my butt, and laugh­ing. I was out­side in the screened-in-porch in the house where I grew up and I couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 months old. That mem­ory of Gretchen — a female Dober­man Pin­scher– is my only mem­ory of her, because she was stolen from a con­struc­tion site later that year.

Gretchen was a bril­liant dog, she couldn’t be kept inside fence (she just tun­neled under­neath), looked both ways before cross­ing the street, and was per­haps too clever to be a dog. Some­one picked her up from the con­struc­tion site (my par­ents think she was lured with food, her weak­ness) and because she was an extremely well-bred dog from a lin­eage of cham­pi­ons, prob­a­bly sold. Some­one (prob­a­bly the thief) even had the nerve to call my par­ents house (they put ads in the paper, went to where she was stolen, looked every­where) to ask if they ever found their dog — men­tion­ing that he found a female Dober­man in the same area and “gave her away.”

I can­not even imag­ine the kind of pain my par­ents and my older sis­ter must have gone through — los­ing the dog in that way. I know that the sto­ries alone affected me, and I was a baby.

After Gretchen, my fam­ily went through a num­ber of less than stel­lar dogs. There was King, the mean Dober­man left to us by some rich guy that thought of my dad like a son. He was no longer a mem­ber of our fam­ily after growl­ing at me — an expe­ri­ence I remem­ber vividly as being kind of ter­ri­fy­ing. There was Oreo, the Black Lab with the white stom­ach, that we found while at the lake and that my sis­ter refused to let us leave with­out. Oreo was awe­some, she was just a bit too feisty. When she jumped through our screened in porch, that was one thing. When she jumped through the neigh­bors (she saw my sis­ter and I go over, we left through the front door — hours later she wanted to see us), she had to go to a new home. There were the bird dog pup­pies, Buck and Sugar, that I loathed because they were small and jumpy and scratchy. There were a few other bird dogs, includ­ing Jill, an old dog who was prob­a­bly 10 or 11, who got out of the yard because our neigh­bor (who liked the dog because she was old and thus prac­ti­cally unable to move and “frighten” his chil­dren” and opened the fence between our houses to allow the dog to have more roam­ing space), left the gate to his car­port open.

And then there was Shadow. Shadow was the first ani­mal that was a pet to my entire fam­ily. My sis­ter is six years older than me and even before Gretchen, had lots of dif­fer­ent dogs (and even briefly a cat). My par­ents were mar­ried for 4 and a half years before hav­ing my sis­ter and they too had pets. But Shadow was the first pet that was around to be enjoyed and loved by the entire fam­ily. Shadow was the ulti­mate fam­ily pet.

We got Shadow at the Humane Soci­ety in 1990, when my par­ents went out look­ing for Jill. I had just started sec­ond grade, and I remem­ber com­ing home off the school bus and see­ing the dog in the front yard. Like Gretchen (and Gretchen’s brother, mother and father — who also lived with my par­ents or my uncle at var­i­ous times), she was a Dober­man Pin­scher. She was five and from a very nice fam­ily in Penn­syl­va­nia that had just moved to Atlanta and into an apart­ment. They loved her very much but were wor­ried that such a large dog wouldn’t be com­fort­able in small quar­ters, so they gave her up. In actu­al­ity, she prob­a­bly would have been just fine indoors, but their loss was our gain.

Shadow was smart, which is pretty com­mon for Dober­mans, but she was also extremely sweet and gen­tle. She was the per­fect fam­ily pet. She could shake hands, which always impressed vis­i­tors, was impec­ca­bly behaved (save the two times she got out of the yard — both times she was caught by my cousins who lived a few houses down the street), well trained (she used the pine straw that lined the back fence to do her busi­ness and then buried it), she was perfect.

We had and loved Shadow for 8 years. She got on in age and had some kind of can­cer (we could see the tumor in her stom­ach) and in Octo­ber of 1998, when she was hav­ing a hard time even lift­ing her head, as a fam­ily, we took her to the vet and had her put to sleep. It was incred­i­bly sad and painful and a sense of loss I had not expe­ri­enced up to that point. I am thank­ful that the entire fam­ily was there when we put her down, hold­ing her and telling her we loved her. She was, after all, our pet.

In Jan­u­ary of 1999, we got Jamie. Now, 1999 was a pretty ter­ri­ble year for my fam­ily for a vari­ety of rea­sons. I was 16 and suf­fer­ing my first debil­i­tat­ing major depres­sion. Although I have suf­fered from Major Depres­sion since I was a child, it was Jan­u­ary of 1999 that things were so bad that I could not get out of bed. I just wanted to die. My par­ents felt help­less and the med­ica­tion and doctor’s seemed inca­pable (or unwill­ing) to do any­thing. It was pretty awful.

My mom didn’t want another dog; she wasn’t ready and claimed (as she always claims) that after Shadow she did not want a pet at all. My dad, how­ever, wanted another dog. My par­ents went to the Humane Soci­ety and found Jamie — a Black Lab who the vet esti­mated was between 1 and a half and 2 years old.

I remem­ber being in bed, incred­i­bly sick (I had bron­chi­tis) and depressed and this dog bar­rel­ing up the stairs. Shadow was ter­ri­fied of heights so she never came upstairs, but Jamie was imme­di­ately at home. He licked my hand. And despite not want­ing another dog, I was in love.

Jamie was not a smart dog. In fact, he was as dumb as they come. He would eat any­thing, had no sense, was scared by lady­bugs, you name it. That said, Jamie was with­out a doubt, the sweet­est dog our fam­ily ever had. He never growled at any­one, he never did any­thing but love us and love his pig’s ears. He could be a hand­ful — like his pen­chant for tun­nel­ing out of my parent’s new house (they had to install an invis­i­ble fence) and his fear of the hard­wood floors that kept him from com­ing inside the new house for almost a year. I wanted to take him to a dog psy­chi­a­trist or dog hyp­no­tist and the fam­ily all said I was crazy. Now the Dog Whis­perer has made a bajil­lion dol­lars and I don’t look so crazy.

Still, Jamie was won­der­ful. He was the sweet­est most happy dog you could imag­ine. And we loved him. As Jamie got older and it became harder for him to walk up the steps of the deck to get into the house, he still remained a jubi­lant puppy.

Jamie died last night. My mom called me at 11:00 PM with the news. She and my father were of course, dev­as­tated. He had been a lit­tle sick the day before and had thrown up a few times that day, but ini­tially they were plan­ning on tak­ing him to vet this morn­ing for a visit. When he threw up again and seemed to be hav­ing trou­ble, they took him to the emer­gency room. He died as they got there. My mom said that he heard her voice, say­ing she loved him, wagged his tail and then died.

My dad thinks his kid­neys shut down — which would make sense because he was drink­ing lots of water and throwing-up.

When Shadow died, as hor­ri­ble and tremen­dously sad as it was, we were in a sense pre­pared. We saw her down­turn com­ing and col­lec­tively as a fam­ily decided to put her to sleep. She prob­a­bly would have passed on that same day or the next nat­u­rally, but we knew it was com­ing. Jamie came as a sur­prise. Sure, the dog was get­ting old, but his puppy-like nature never made it seem like he was aging.

As my mom said, I’m just glad they were with him and took him to the emer­gency room. I can’t even imag­ine them hav­ing to find him dead in the back yard this morn­ing. That would just be too awful for words.

Our fam­ily had Jamie from Jan­u­ary 1999 until now — so we had him for 9 and a half years — even longer than our beloved Shadow. And although I was in col­lege and liv­ing on my own for the last 7 years or so, I was home often enough that he was still our dog.

Peo­ple say that los­ing a pet is like los­ing a child or a par­ent — I think because they love you uncon­di­tion­ally in the same way; because they ARE part of the fam­ily. I cried last night more than I have cried in years. Our won­der­ful puppy, and the last “fam­ily” pet (if my par­ents get another dog, it will be theirs, not the fam­i­lies) is gone.

If you have read this far — thank you. I would nor­mally do this sort of thing in my jour­nal. But see­ing as I don’t use that any­more, I fig­ured I might as well use my site/blog. It’s not the type of stuff I nor­mally write, but it’s real and it is my life, and I want to write about it.

I don’t have access to all of my old pic­tures from my last dig­i­tal cam­era so I can’t include a pic­ture of Jamie (I didn’t get any of him at Christ­mas for some rea­son), but here is a Black Lab that looks strik­ingly sim­i­lar, and this will do until I can get a real shot inserted.

BlackLab2.jpg

Jamie War­ren — beloved pet 1999 — 2008

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9 people have left comments

Sameer Vasta - Gravatar

Sameer Vasta said:

This is a beau­ti­ful trib­ute to Jamie and to all the dogs that have been part of your life. My thoughts go out to you and the whole family.

Posted on: June 20, 2008 at 2:55 pmQuote this Comment
Mary War­ren - Gravatar

Mary War­ren said:

Dear­est Christina, Thank you so much for doing this for our fam­ily. Your tal­ent with words man­aged to cap­ture it all! You will always be our “lit­tle doll”! We love you so much! Mama and Daddy

Posted on: June 20, 2008 at 4:11 pmQuote this Comment
Lisa - Gravatar

Lisa said:

so sorry to hear. big hugs thanks for shar­ing your story. i teared up a lit­tle. aww. it is like los­ing a fam­ily mem­ber except one that you really like and never bought you an ugly sweater for christ­mas. sorry i had to try to make you smile a little.

Posted on: June 23, 2008 at 5:52 pmQuote this Comment
Mark Dou­glass - Gravatar

Mark Dou­glass said:

Thank you for shar­ing your story, Christina. What a won­der­ful tribute.

Per­son­ally, I am always happy and very inter­ested to see entries like this on blogs that nor­mally cover com­pletely dif­fer­ent sub­jects. Even though I’ve never met you, I now feel more connected.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Posted on: July 9, 2008 at 9:29 amQuote this Comment
mvwxpe - Gravatar

mvwxpe said:

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Posted on: September 12, 2008 at 10:05 amQuote this Comment
26 Can­dles… | www.ChristinaWarren.com - Gravatar

26 Can­dles… | www.ChristinaWarren.com said:

[…] OK to get per­sonal on this […]

Posted on: November 12, 2008 at 12:19 pmQuote this Comment
Ling - Gravatar

Ling said:

Wow, story made me teary eyed =o…

Posted on: December 8, 2008 at 6:53 amQuote this Comment
Robert - Gravatar

Robert said:

Black Vel­vet passed early this morn­ing. Already miss her. Loyal, wait­ing at the fence every evening when I got home from work. The most loyal dog I have ever had. She will be truly missed.

Posted on: January 10, 2009 at 11:16 pmQuote this Comment
audio mobil - Gravatar

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Posted on: June 2, 2012 at 7:26 amQuote this Comment
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