Wednesday, February 25, 2015

You actually celebrate your dog's birthday? You betcha!

Sydney receiving a birthday gift last year.
Sydney receiving a birthday gift last year.

So, here we are... February 25, 2015.  That means that our beautiful Shih Tzu, Sydney, is 7 years-old today!  Later on today we plan on having dinner, doggy birthday cake, and gifts for Sydney.  Some people might roll their eyes and think, "She's treating that darn dog like a kid again!  Doesn't she realize that it's JUST a dog?"

Why, yes, I do realize that she's a dog.  But to us (Matt, Taylor, and myself), she is not "just" a dog."  She is a member of our family.  She is a part of our family that we love and can't imagine not having in our family.

Sadly, there will come a day when she won't be in our family anymore because she is a dog, and - even in optimal health - will not live as long as we will.

Someday, Matt or I will be taking her to the vet's office for the last time and will come home without her.  We may even have to make the decision at the vet's office to end her suffering (if she's suffering), if we haven't already discovered that at our home and taking her there to have the vet's office take care of her body.  She will be a geriatric dog someday whose body will start to show old age, just like a geriatric person's body does.

And most heartbreaking of all, someday we will have to break the news to Taylor that her doggy sister is gone, and we will have to watch her mourn losing her sister in addition to dealing with our own grief.

We will live many years after Sydney does, and we will always remember how happy she has made us and what a wonderful part of our lives she has been.  Even if we were to get another dog, no dog will ever take her place.

But not yet.  Hopefully, not for years.

It is for these reasons that we celebrate our dog's birthday.  Each year that we get to February 25th with that adorable little Shih Tzu cuddling on Matt's or my lap or to see her playing fetch with Taylor - seeing this dog turn another year older is a GIFT.

Technically, each day is a gift for ALL of us.  However, each day and birthday with Sydney is a gift.  It's a gift watching this dog still play and frolic.  It's a gift watching Sydney greet her neighborhood doggy buddies.  It's a gift watching this dog still play and have energy like a puppy!  I love watching her get the "zoomies," the act of running around the house at full speed randomly with a burst of excitement.

Sydney, herself, is a gift.

And there is absolutely no shame at all in celebrating another year with her.

My family's dog, Rocky, a Pekingese, lived to be 16, and he lived a good life. He was my furry brother from the time I was in 4th grade until I was almost 26.  He cuddled next to me when I was sick, cuddled me and gave me doggy kisses when I was sad, and made me smile and laugh MANY times.  I miss him every day!

I also loved my grandma's two dogs that I knew as a kid - Chi Chi, a Poodle, and Tobie, a Pekingese, who was Rocky's life companion! I miss them as well!

Sydney's biological father, Koda, died at age 5 of kidney disease.  His family misses him every day.  The fact that his "children" and his partner, Zonie (the puppies' mother), have outlived him and are pretty healthy makes his family happy as well.

Celebrate your dog's life.  Celebrate your cat's life.  Celebrate your horse's life.  Celebrate your (insert whatever pet you have)'s life.  Someday, you won't be able to celebrate it, and you will wish that you had.
"Our family is not complete without Sydney!" - last page of Sydney & Me
"Our family is not complete without Sydney!" - last page of Sydney & Me

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