Today I said goodbye to Tessa, a blind pug of indeterminate age who had survived a puppymill to spend her final; two years of life here with me.
Tessa came to me in a load of retired breeders. She was the oddest-looking pug - short, squat and wearing oversized skin that rolled when you grabbed it - it was like holding a water balloon. My roommate quickly nicknamed her Tub-A-Goo - I christened her with her formal name.
It quickly became apparent that Tessa had major issues, courtesy of human greed. Wall-to-wall pigmentary keratitis ensured that the the little ladypug had zero vision. Though she was trustworthy on the bed we shared, she proved unhousetrainable. Blood work we had done showed kidney disease, and that was the kiss of death for her adoption potential. Although we did post her as "available for adoption", no one ever even asked about Tessa. We put her on prescription food, and expected her to die in six months or less.
Two years later, I carried her in to our vet to find her in congestive heart failure. She was suffering, struggling to breath, and I could not allow that to go on. We sent Tessa to the Rainbow Bridge.
Usually, when a pug is never adopted, I feel I've failed them. I really cannot say that about Tessa. It's probably not much of an understatement to say that it would have taken a saint to adopt a blind, unhousetrainable old pug with kidney disease. Saints are in short supply.
So Tessa stayed in this house, a rescue house. But she knew it was her house. She knew the geography of the house and the yard like the back of her paw, used the pet door, and fell into a steadfast routine here that she adhered to religiously. Each morning, we delivered meds (Tessa took an antihistamine twice daily for allergies), then Tessa was placed in a kennel and fed her special diet. After her meal, she retired to a doughnut bed in the bathroom. There she slept until I got home from work. We'd go outside for awhile, then do evening meds. Tessa looked forward to this - her meds were delivered in braunschweiger. After meds came bedtime for Tessa. If I was too slow to let her in my room, she would patiently rest her chin on the bars of the safety gate across the hallway until I came to open it, or lift her over.
Tessa was one of my "special" pugs - the odd ones who were allowed to sit in the bathroom while I bathed, or on the bed as I watched a movie. My girls. At mealtimes, Tessa did the "Four-Paw Shuffle" - it was the most animated we ever saw her. At bedtime, she wandered down the hall to my room and waited to be lifted onto the bed. She always had to lay right next to me so she could rest her chin somewhere on my body.If it was warm and I moved her away, she'd come right back. Occasionally, she would come into the bedroom and lose her sense of direction, staring at an end table or closet door when she really wanted the bed. On these occasions, I would lean over the edge on the bed and blow a stream of soft air in her direction. As soon as it hit her, the tail started to wag, she'd turn and come straight for me. I'd lift her up and tuck her in for the night. "There's my Tessa".
Today, I am crying and I'll continue doing so on and off all day. I've put my phone away. I just want to curl up in a ball. I miss her so much already...the little pug no one wanted...she stayed long enough to tear me apart when she left.
I try to remember the good things. Tessa loved me, and she knew I loved her - she knew that very well, and was utterly secure in that love. I never left her anywhere that she did not know I would come back for her. I know this with a certainty. For any lengthy trip to the vet or groomer, she was never scared when I picked her up - just impatient ("It's about time," she'd sigh). She had two really good years here, post-puppymill, years filled with love and belonging. It was the closest thing she ever had to a real home - in Tessa's case, I guess it was a real home.
I'll never forget you, Tessa. And I'll think of you often from now until I get to join you. I know one day I'll think of you and smile. I'll talk about you with people who knew you, and we'll laugh about some silly thing you did. But not today. Today my heart is in ashes.
I love you, Tessa. Goodbye.