Earlier this week, we lost our sweet Yorkie baby after a very brief and unexpected illness. Quentin was like a child to us. So, I thought it might be nice to share a few thoughts in honor of him. If you’re not a dog person or you’re not in the mood to cry buckets today, you may want to skip this post altogether. *Note: some of my photos are sideways/upside down. Yes, I’ll fix it someday. No, it doesn’t bother me enough to take them down.
His name: I named Quentin after Quentin Compson from William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. If you’ve read the book, you know that Quentin is an extremely sensitive and complex character. Let’s be honest, he’s a bit screwed up, too. But Faulkner is one of my favorite authors, and I was always fascinated by Quentin Compson. I knew I would name my puppy Quentin even before I saw him for the first time.
Meeting Q: When I did see him for the first time, I thought I was just looking, just considering, getting a puppy. I thought I was going to see a breeder, but the “breeder” turned out to be a puppy mill. They were keeping the puppies in a chicken coop out back; when I asked if I could put him on the ground to play with him, they told me he’d never been on the ground before. He’d also never had a bath. He was eight weeks old exactly. When they pulled him out of his little coop and handed him over to me, his tiny little claws got caught on my sweater, and he wouldn’t let go. He picked me. He chose me. And against all of my rational thoughts, I knew I couldn’t leave without him. I paid the sketchy man cash, and I left with Quentin still stuck to me. (Please don’t let this be the time for a lecture on how I should have chosen a shelter dog–I was looking at rescues, too. And even though Quentin wasn’t a shelter puppy, I still think I rescued him. He rescued me, too.)
To say I had no idea what I was doing would be putting it mildly. Quentin was the first dog I’d had as an adult. As we were driving away from the puppy mill, Quentin threw up all over me (as a baby, he was nervous in the car). Luckily, my best friend was with me, and he was driving. I didn’t have any of the things I needed to be a puppy mom, so my BFF Jason drove to the pet store, took my credit card, and bought all of the things he thought I would need. I couldn’t go in, because I was covered in vomit and had a tiny confused animal stuck to me.
Finding his daddy: I had Quentin for four years before I met my husband. When Quentin and Patrick (hubby) first met, it was love at first sight. I swear that Patrick married me to get to Quentin. I’d dated other guys, but Quentin had never reacted to any man the way he did to Patrick. They were best friends immediately. And Patrick is my perfect match. Somehow, Quentin knew that Patrick would make our family complete, and he was instrumental in bringing us together.
The Wedding Puppy: Quentin played a starring role in our wedding. We attached a sign to his back that said “Here comes the bride,” and sent him right down the aisle. We knew he would make a straight beeline down it, because his daddy was standing at the other end. He was always, always following his daddy around.
Things Quentin loved: His favorite things were peanut butter, fortune cookies, his daddy’s worn socks, empty toilet paper rolls, a nice walk around the neighborhood where he could sniff everything, his giant stuffed Care Bear girlfriend, his red blanket, snoozing on the back of our sofa, and cuddling with his parents and grandparents. He was the best at finding the coziest snuggle spots, whether that was on top of a pile of pillows or on a stack of fresh laundry or on one of our laps.
Random facts: Instead of teaching Quentin to sit by saying “sit,” I taught him to “be a gentleman.” So, whenever he wanted a treat, we would tell him to “be a gentleman,” and he would sit like a sweetheart. Because he loved peanut butter so much, I gave him his monthly heartworm pills and his daily joint supplement with a tiny dab of peanut butter on top. Every time he needed to take a pill, I told him it was time for his medicine. He eventually got so excited about the idea of medicine that he would go running into the kitchen and gobble up his pill without any peanut butter at all.
Things Quentin didn’t love: He didn’t love wearing doggy clothes, but I couldn’t resist dressing him up (especially during the holidays)–he looked so damned cute. Aside from neighborhood walks, he didn’t care much for the great outdoors. He preferred to be in the air conditioning with his people. He didn’t like other dogs; he wasn’t aggressive, he just didn’t recognize other dogs as his own kind. I genuinely think that he saw himself as a little person with fur (and we saw him that way, too.)
My writing mascot: Quentin was almost always with me when I was writing. I have an office with a big cozy armchair where I do my writing, and Quentin’s spot was on the ottoman. I’d stop typing every few minutes to rub his belly. Sometimes he’d watch me, and sometimes he would doze, and, if he wanted my attention, he would pop right into my lap, paws tapping at the keys on my laptop. The only words I’ve written since he got sick are about him.
My letter to my furry son: When he was in the doggy hospital and I was desperately hoping for a positive outcome, I wrote Quentin a letter. Obviously, he couldn’t read it (even though he was, without a doubt, the smartest dog I’ve ever met), but I hoped he knew what was in my heart. I didn’t get the outcome I’d hoped so badly for, but every word I wrote was true.
Here’s what I wrote:
We miss you. You belong at home with us, not in some strange hospital. I wake up wondering where you are in our bed, and then I realize you’re not in it. Our home isn’t the same without you—it’s empty and sad without you next to us on the sofa, without the little click-clack of your doggy claws on the floors.
I know that the vet hospital is the best place for you to be right now. They’re going to find out where that belly fluid is coming from, and we’re going to fix it. You’re the bravest little fighter I know, so whatever it is, I know you’ll come through it. I know it. We’re going to bring you home and you’re going to have many more years with us—I can tell by your bright eyes and your shaky little tail. You’re not done with this life yet.
I hope you know that we are doing what’s best for you. The idea that you might not know—that you might think we just brought you to a strange place and dropped you off so they could poke you with needles and fill you with medicine—tortures me. You’re such a smart boy, though, that surely you know we’d never leave you. We will never, ever leave you. Everything we’re doing is to keep you healthy, and keep you with us.
Maybe it isn’t smart to be so attached to a dog. But, no matter what happens, I’ll never, ever be sorry for loving you as much as I do. Being your mommy has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I am so lucky you came into my life. I don’t regret carrying you around like a baby and treating you just like my child—showering you with love and affection has made me so happy, and I know it’s made you happy, too.
Be brave, my little boy. I know they’re going to give us good news today, because if you believe strongly enough in a positive outcome, a positive outcome is what you’ll receive. Soon, we’ll be coming to get you and bring you home with us, where you belong. I can’t wait to nuzzle your sweet little face and rub your belly. We’re going to make you so comfortable, and we’re going to continue to love you so, so much. You are so loved, sweet baby.
I’m so sad to say that my letter didn’t move the universe, that my baby was still taken away from us. And now we miss him all the time. I guess this pain will get better eventually, but for now, all we can do is try and honor our sweet boy the best way we know how. And the best way I know is to write about him.