Gizmo was born in Hartsville, MO on April 21, 1994. The breeder probably realized quite quickly that she was not show quality due to her size (she was very big for a female Pekingese by about 5 inches and about 8 pounds) and her left eye being too big for the eye socket, so she ended up being sold to Pass Pets pet shop. Somehow she managed to make it all the way to Dearborn, MI where we picked her up at the pet shop right before 4th of July weekend, completely on a whim.
I recall quite clearly that she was the only dog in the kennels that wasn’t barking or carrying on when we approached them. She just stood there with that big smile she always had and wagged her tail. Enough for me!!!
Everyone loved Gizmo. Even those people who say they don’t like little dogs absolutely loved her. I think it was mostly because she wasn’t a yappy little dog (she RARELY ever barked, and when she did it surprised the hell out of everyone because it was kind of a deep bark for a little dog) and she had a ton of personality. And everyone had a different nickname for her, too. Here is a list of as many as I can think of: Gizmo, Giz, Gizzy, Piglet, Piggy, Monster, Brat, Bratzilla, Shitzilla, Ape, Hairball, Alien, Olivia, Munchkin, Babygizmo, Goddammit, Pepto-gizmo, Gizmoses, and Gizgo. I am sure there are some more that I can’t think of that have long since been retired in the last decade.
After nearly 17 years there are plenty of stories to tell. Here are a few of my favorite memories about her that shaped her into the fantastic dog that she was and me into the best doggie Dad I could be.
As most of you know Gizmo came into my life right after I moved to Detroit. My boyfriend at the time, Mario, was the one who jumped at the chance to bring her home, and I was most certainly not going to deny him the pleasure of this cute little fluff ball. In the end Mario moved back to Seattle and I stayed in Detroit. Gizmo stayed with me as Mario traveled so much in the year after we acquired her that she never gave a damn about him anyway. Kind of like he treated me actually……….but I digress.
Anyway, the Christmas of ’94 (she was only about 9 months old) I flew home to Seattle to surprise my Mother for the holiday, and Mario flew to Asheville, NC to visit his Parents, taking Gizmo with him. I returned to Detroit a day or two before he did, so I collected them at the airport. I met the two of them at baggage claim and could tell right away that Gizmo was NOT happy with the whole event. She didn’t really care for the plane ride and most certainly didn’t care to be stuffed into her little vinyl animal carrying case regardless of her name embroidered on the top. When I met them at baggage claim (no, she didn’t ride in cargo…..Mario carried her on board) Mario took her out of her case and attempted to give her a long overdue drink of water. She wanted less than nothing to do with it, turning her head sideways each time he held that cup of water to her flat little face and glaring at him with contempt. I then took her in my arms and held the cup up to her and she lapped in up with much enthusiasm. It was amazing how that dog could certainly hold a grudge.
Over the next couple of years she traveled with me (mostly by car) a fair amount, visiting family and friends in neighboring states and well as flying home for holidays. She eventually got used to the plane rides and, as would be true for most of the rest of her life, slept right through it.
As a puppy she quickly developed a love of both dirt and water. Living in Detroit it naturally got scorching hot during the summer. I had some friends in my neighborhood with two Rottweiler’s who loved to splash around in a baby pool full of cold water on the hot days. I thought that might be a good idea for Gizmo, but when I put her in she stood there and glared at me and wouldn’t even move. It was almost as if she had been insulted by the thought of being put into the pool. Well, a couple of weeks later, on a very hot day, we had a big rain storm. I used to take Gizmo for a walk through the neighborhood every day after work. As we went on our journey I tried to dodge the puddles along the way so I wouldn’t get my shoes soaking wet and Gizmo wouldn’t get filthy. All of a sudden the leash tensed up and I stopped and looked behind me to find that Gizmo had plopped herself down right in the middle of one of those puddles to cool off. And she had a big smile on her little face, too. As much as she had acted like she hated the baby pool episode she obviously learned something from it………and I created a monster. She LOVED water after that, especially the baby pool on a hot day! She couldn’t get enough. We even took her camping much later in her life and she proceeded to lay right down in the creek.
As far as getting dirty……well, let’s just say that getting dirty was super fun, but being dirty was less than appealing. After moving back to Seattle we bunked with my Parent’s for a couple of months while looking for a proper place to live. They live on 6 acres out in the woods granting her ample opportunity to make a proper mess of herself. She would run full speed through the nearest mud puddle and get as filthy as she could running around in the woods……..not fun to brush out of a long, white-haired dog either, I can tell you………..and then she would realize just how filthy she was and her attitude would change. She would get kind of mopey. She would do the same if she hadn’t gotten her monthly bath. All I had to do was yell “BATH TIME!”, and she would run into the bathroom and put her paws on the edge of the tub to jump in. Once she had gone through the process of a scrub down and a blow dry her attitude would instantly change and she was super happy. Oh, and she had three states of dirty for her, too: Pretty Princess; Stinky McFarland; and Grandmaster Funk. It was rare she got to the Gmaster stage, but quite unpleasant when she did.
Another good story is when Adam and I first moved in together Gizmo was jealous…..and outwardly so. But she eventually came around and made it very clear that she was going to be a big girl and accept Adam and my developing relationship. The 3 of us were watching TV in the living room of our rented Wallingford house. Gizmo sat with me on the love seat and Adam sat in the rocking chair off to our left. Gizmo started to get oddly fidgety and jumped down off the love seat. She then walked up to the TV and turned around, sat down and looked at the both of us like she had an announcement to make. She looked at Adam and then she looked at me. Then she ran full speed (as speedy as she could be with those short little legs) and jumped up into Adam’s lap, putting her front paws on the edge of the chair facing me and wagging her tail in delight as if to say, “Ha Ha, Dad! You have to share him now!” Adam and I looked at each other with surprise, and I think I called her Benedict Arnold actually. One thing she could do was communicate volumes in her own strange little way. Sometimes she seemed more human than dog.
I made the decision to put Gizmo down about a week ago, but I have known it was coming for much longer than that. She just slowed down exponentially. Plus, she was just getting so confused about where (and who) she was. The final determination was during my last business trip. I took her to my Parent’s house so they could observe her during my absence and give us a second opinion. Frankly, I think I knew what the final outcome would be after we had been there 5 minutes and she couldn’t figure out where she was at. She spent a lot of time at Mom and Dad’s over the years, and she had even stayed there just a couple of months prior and had no issues. But at that stage a couple of months made all the difference. So, to be honest with you, the decision was easy to make. I knew then and there that it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
This last week has been murder on me however……very bittersweet. I am so thankful to have had so much time with her, but it is really hard to let go. I probably could have scheduled to have her euthanized in less than a week, but I wanted to spend at least a little more time with her. I am very glad I did, but it tore me apart.
Things like emptying her kibble container for the last time knowing I wouldn’t have to fill it up again brought me to tears. I boiled chicken and rice for her the weekend before knowing she was getting low on food, and going to the pet store to buy food seemed ridiculous. I figured it was time to let her eat whatever she wanted, so I stuffed her full of as much chicken, rice and treats as she wanted all week. In the meantime, I sprinkled the last of her kibble in over the course of a couple of days. After scooping out the last scoop I just stood and stared at the container for a minute. It was hard not to just sob actually.
Then little things started to come up all over the place. I used up the last of her eye drops and knew I didn’t need to fill the prescription. I started to do evil math thinking that she normally goes outside 3 or 4 times a day to do “chores”…….and now she will only have a couple more chores left to do. It just became this awful countdown in my head.
I almost burst into tears on the treadmill at the gym, too. That would have been just beautiful. I am sure people would have paid tickets to see that one.
I can say that even with all the head games that came along with this, part of me thinks she was trying to ease things for me this week. She somehow was trying to tell me she was thankful for the decision that was made and helping her do what she didn’t know how. She was very cuddly with me this week, something that she started resisting within the last 2 years just because she didn’t like being held quite as much as she used to. Also, we recently made one of the spare bedrooms upstairs a proper “office” which she never really cared for. She just didn’t know where she was when she came up because she spent 95% of her time on the main level of the house in the last couple of years. Consequently she would pace around and never relax and go to sleep. But she spent plenty of time with me while I sat at my desk and worked this week without protest. I even came around the corner and caught her napping in the sun, which I have not seen her do in a long time. I cried in the shower after seeing that. Painfully beautiful is the best description I can come up with.
Today was completely surreal. It sort of seemed like any other day, but it most certainly had a black cloud hovering over it. I also realized that today is Chinese New Year. Considering Gizmo is a Chinese dog it somehow seemed oddly appropriate to me……..a big celebration for her new adventure.
My Parents and my Sister both came to witness the send off and support Adam and me, and of more importantly, Gizmo. It was really nice having the family around to share the love with Gizmo as we said goodbye. Before the injection Gizmo was passed from person to person to lick each and everyone’s tearful face. I think that was the hardest part for me, even more than actually watching her go to sleep in my arms. Adam was right next to me the whole time, and I feel he actually took it harder than I did. It was hard letting go, but I didn’t break down like I thought I would as I knew this was the right thing. I held her for a couple of minutes after she was gone and kissed her temple like I always did before finally saying, “Goodbye Monster. I love you.” I stood in the living room in a haze and completely numb for a while after Dr. Rice left with my little baby.
I watched her walk around and feel the grass beneath her feet for the last time. I saw her wag her tail several times today, both while awake and while dreaming, for whatever reason. I let her out for her first chore of the day and the last chore of her life. I watched her eat her last (and very hard earned) dinner of chicken and treats. I brushed her out for the last time…..something I could and probably should have done more often during her lifetime. And I held her when she took her final breath.
Today was the most precious day of both of our lives. I am glad we shared it together.