The worst day of my life was when my family and I put our old dog, Patches, to sleep.
That was four years ago. Memories of that day have flooded my mind for the past two weeks. Last week my family called me and, tearfully, said one of our other dogs, a collie named Sadie, was sick.
No one knew what was wrong with her. Thankfully, since we got that news, it's been determined that she got into something she wasn't supposed to — maybe pesticide, maybe mold, something along those lines.
When talking to a family member on the phone, I said I'd gladly take a day off work to make a trip to a veterinary clinic in Manhattan. If it meant saving the dog, who is seven years old, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Thankfully, it didn't come to that. But that raises a question: Why would people travel so far and spend so much money on a dog?
The answer: I'd do it because she's my dog.
I'm not a dog owner myself, but my parents are. And if they want me to do something for a dog, I'm going to do whatever I can, no matter the distance or cost. All dogs deserve a chance. It doesn't matter whether the dog is abused or shy or sick and in need of expensive medicine or surgery.
Dogs are like kids. And you just wouldn't give up on your kids.
In the midst of dealing with Sadie's sudden illness, memories of another dog of ours, named Patches, came to surface.
If there's one thing you need to know about Patches, it is this: Patches was a kid-loving dog. It took her years to warm up to the adults. But she absolutely loved my brother and me, then in third and sixth grade. Had she not had four paws and a body full of fur, she could have been a kid herself.
She jumped on the trampoline with us, played basketball with us and slept with us. She stayed by our side when we were sick. She let me paint her claws, which I thought were toenails in grade school, and dress her up in necklaces, hats, or glasses, or colorful beads.
She didn't care what she was doing, as long as she was doing it with us. That made her happy.
She got sick the year I moved away to college. Finally, about three years ago, we decided it wasn't humane to keep her on the medicine that had been keeping her going.
For the longest time, I kept her collar in my purse. I now have it sitting on my dresser, and it's something that I look at every morning when I grab clothes to get dressed.
Patches was a kid dog. Part German Shepherd and part collie, but more importantly, part kid herself.
I'll always have happy memories of our old dog we put to sleep a few years ago. But if ever a time comes that one of our dogs needs medical attention, I'll probably be the first in my family to offer help.
And for now, I still have Sadie, who's sort of the middle child of the three dogs my parents currently have. She's friendly, welcoming, enjoys giving hugs and enjoys getting rubbed. She doesn't do belly rubs laying down and doesn't like it when people stand over her.
And when you make her do something she doesn't want to do, like go outside on a hot day, it's not unusual for her to lower her head down, way down, almost so her nose is touching the carpet.
She'll then walk unusually slow to the back door, grumbling the entire time, a noise that is reminiscent of a growl and a whine combined. It's like she's saying, "I can't believe you're making me do this. You obviously have no idea who runs this house."
All I know is that at seven, she has plenty more to grumble about in her future.
Staff Writer Monica Springer can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.