Lines from the Pines

by Free Speech on July 13, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Peg Zaemisch

Peg & Keillor

Peg & Keillor

Dogs don’t get obituaries in the newspaper, even though many dogs are nicer than the people that do. A person may live a life like the devil incarnate, but they will be hailed in their final recognition as somewhere near sainthood. A good, loyal dog passes quietly, without documentation.
I’m not sure why, but when dogs pass away their attributes aren’t usually remembered in any widely read publication, unless of course that dog happens to belong to a staff writer. Then it is rules be damned.
Last week I had to put my mixed terrier to sleep. Anyone who has been through the experience, knows how difficult it is.
There are dogs of every size and shape. Some more likeable than others. My mother was afraid of dogs and so there were no dogs at our house. Later, when I had my own family there were Irish Setters and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Nice dogs, especially the Irish.
Still later, when I was living in a very tiny cottage I decided I needed a small dog. A big dog wouldn’t have had room to swing its tail. So I got Keillor.
After months of searching for just the right dog I saw an ad for “mixed Cairn and Australian” terriers.” I decided I would take a look. This was after several failed attempts to adopt an adult dog from the shelter. One was a bladder on paws, one had nothing but escape on its mind and could have busted out of a maximum security prison and a third was into recreational barking. I tried, but starting with a puppy began to seem like the only alternative. There are plenty of great adoptees out there and I would encourage anyone to give a dog in need a good home, but it wasn’t happening for me.
When I arrived at the “kennel” where Keillor had been born, I immediately became suspicious that I had stumbled onto a puppy mill. Dogs barked incessantly from several small outdoor buildings. Two litters of puppies were sleeping in crates in the kitchen. I wanted a female and although I had been told there were three, when I got there it was just Keillor. Her parents were not around (or were probably out with the rabble of dogs barking in the sheds) I suspected accurate breeding records were not being kept.
I had read about these mills and I was aware of the warnings: NEVER BUY A PUPPY FROM A PUPPY MILL.
But, well, I was already there and so I took a seat in a rather slovenly living room and then Keillor – being chased and wrestled by her unruly brothers came over to me and begged to come up on my lap. What could I do? Allow me to offer this warning to those who might find themselves in the same situation: DO NOT TOUCH THE PUPPIES! Do not pick them up and cuddle them and do not allow them to curl up under your chin and lick your nose. Do not look directly into their tiny faces, their bright eyes. Should you do this the puppy will choose you. You are totally out of the equation. They want you to take them home and make them your best friend and buddy and pal. Can you put the innocent little fur balls back down? Not a chance, especially in such a questionable environment.
So it was that Keillor came home with me. She curled up in the box with blankets I had brought and then started to whimper and so I drove with her curled in lap. This set the trend for who would have the upper hand, right from the get go.
When she was a puppy she was as cute as a button, but naughty? Whew. Chewed up everything she could get her tiny teeth on, including a phone (and answering machine), my glasses and all the lamp cords in the house.
But, after that chewing phase passed she settled down and we became fast friends. I liked to walk and so did she. I liked to kayak and she would stand up between my knees with her paws on the bow and serve as the navigator. I liked to read and she liked to curl up beside me and sleep. Despite the fact that we never did decide who was in charge, terriers tend to be a bit bossy and so it always seemed to me that it was Keillor’s house and she was just letting me live there as long as I brought home the dog biscuits.
As she got older she became an easy companion. She slept more than bounced around and she liked to be right wherever I was. Years went on, eleven total and she seemed pretty healthy. That was until she got diabetes and then it was down hill all the way and a very steep hill it was. Keillor did not seem to respond much to the insulin shots I was giving her every evening and she grew sicker and more lethargic every day. She lost her sight in a period of about two weeks. She whined most of the night and seemed confused most of the day. The time had come.
If you could forgive a few bites, she was a good dog. She had been in charge of security at my place and she did an admirable job. I always knew when someone was coming to the door and I also knew when the squirrels were getting too forward or a deer was crossing the backyard.
She was a dog of simple pleasures. A nice walk, scratch behind the ears, a little conversation and she was happy. She loved sleeping in the sunlight streaming in the window and she liked napping with her head on the sofa pillow.
I had been hoping that perhaps she would pass peacefully in her sleep at home – but I had to make the call and I guess like anyone who has had a pet near the end of their life – I will always wonder and hope that I did not make the decision too soon.
Keillor will always be remembered as a terrier of integrity and conviction. Sure, she chewed up a few mittens and she ran away a few times, but looking back at when she was a little puppy looking for a home – I am glad she chose me.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sundayslady July 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM

so sorry Peg..Keillor and Joe were the best. Take some time to remember. Wonderful writing.

2 Jody July 17, 2009 at 5:49 PM

So sad. Next week our dear Sonia will join Keillor in Doggy Heaven

3 Ed July 16, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Peg – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Very nicely done.

4 April July 13, 2009 at 5:12 PM

Beautiful and touching – your Keillor is up in doggy Heaven playing with my Heidi (Miniature Schnauzer who passed away in 2001 at age 18) and Tess (Chocolate Lab who passed away in 2003 at age 13) and all the other wonderful dogs up there – and they’re having a great time. If they don’t allow dogs in the Heaven humans go to – then when it comes my time I want to go to the one the dogs go to – Heaven without dogs wouldn’t be Heaven.

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