Two days ago, I took Miko for his last ride.
Our little Shih Tzu mixed loves a car ride. Usually, when Olga and I leave home for a quick trip to town, we leave Miko in a baby pen. We can’t let him roam the house because he will attack the portal we left from. He has already chewed and clawed a good portion of the cedar door and the frame through which he has seen us disappear.
When we return, there is always an enthusiastic welcome.
We acquired Miko four years ago from our granddaughter, Heather. Heather acquired him in Sudbury, where she was living at the time. When she visited us at Wildgoose Lake, Olga acquired him. We had recently lost our own dog, Shiloh, when her hips collapsed. And Olga had always wanted a lap dog.
Miko wasn’t a lap dog. Miko’s first owner was a senior in Sudbury, and when he entered a seniors’ residence, he had to surrender Miko. Miko never forgave him, apparently, for he was a tough animal to warm up to. He frequently bit us. Nearly took off Olga’s big toe once. When Heather visited the next time, he bit her.
We understood his trauma. We caressed him, indulged him with special treats, let him sleep with us. Over the months, he warmed up to us, bit us less often.
We have a habit of acquiring rescue pets. We still have our cat,Trouble, after many years ̶ she grew up wild in the Dorion bush, fed occasionally by animal-lovers Penny and Doug. We later acquired Bushcat when son Rob found him half-starved roaming the nearby bush. Miko was our rescue dog.
These last few months, Miko became a true lap dog. Loved jumping into our laps. Loved visitors. Loved our cats. Almost never snapped at us.
When we travelled to TBay, three hours away, we took Miko for a ride. Sometimes to the vet. Sometimes to the groomer. Sometimes just to keep us company. We certainly couldn’t leave him penned up in the house overnight. Miko loved those rides. Especially with Olga along. He was Olga’s dog. Olga called him my dog because if I left home for a day or more, he pined for me. Whimpered, wouldn’t eat.
We were never sure of Miko’s age. We thought he was age seven when we acquired him. Heather later revised that to nine. And just the other day, to age twelve. Go figure.
For several weeks now, Miko has been ailing. Off his feed. Lackadaisical. Sometimes not eating a bite for a whole day. Urinating wherever he felt like. Dropping sticky gifts on the carpet. For a year we’ve known he suffers from kidney stones, often resulting in his leaving bloody patches. Medication hasn’t helped much, and surgery is beyond our means.
For the last while, he will not stay on our bed at night. Jumps off, curls up on the floor. Sometimes hides under the bed. In daytime, likes to lie down in cramped places, under a table or kitchen chair. It is our experience with pets that they often isolate themselves when they feel the end is near. Shiloh dragged herself into the nearby bush, wouldn’t return to the house. Had to lift her into the car for her last ride to the vet.
Lately, Miko has had his fine moments. Snatches up a toy and invites us to play. Never growls if disturbed. Never dreams of snapping at us. When we receive a visitor, he arouses from his lethargy and cavorts.
Four days ago, Olga said it was time. I made arrangements with the vet.
Two days ago, I told Miko, “Going for a ride.”
He leapt up. He toddled upstairs like a young puppy. He followed me out the door, tail wagging. He waded through the knee-deep snow (his knees, mind you) although I was prepared to pick him up. He joyfully ensconced himself in the back-seat hammock. He never really complained that Olga wasn’t coming along. He was going for a ride.
It wasn’t a ride that Olga was prepared to take. If I could have skipped it, I would’ve.
Three hours later, I left Miko at the vet’s.
Gave him our last caresses. Collected his collar and tags. Miko was happy enough. Maybe he thought he was going to be groomed.
Yes, we’ve shed a few tears. I’m crying now.
But we are collecting Miko a week from today. Bringing him home in a sand-coloured urn. When the ground thaws, we’ll find a sandy spot for him.
Give him one last caress.
He’ll be so happy.