Karl

April 11, 2013

My husband and I have been friends for 17 years.

Together for 16 years.

Pet owners for 13 years…
February 12, 2000
Since it was almost Valentine’s Day, and Gaby had recently had shoulder surgery, I decided a puppy would be a great way to cheer him up.

When Karl first saw me at the pet store, he immediately came up to the front of the cage, while the other two Rat Terrier puppies stayed at the back, seemingly uninterested. Razor sharp nails pushed on the cage door. He licked the cage where I rested my hand and looked at me with those round droopy eyes—a hopeful look that said, “Take me home.”

Minutes later, as I read over his papers, I learned that he and Gaby shared the same birthday, December 6th! What are the chances?

Destiny, I thought.

[As I’m sitting in my car writing this in my memo app, our wedding song comes on the radio, Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Stay Together”. Tears well up, and the letters blur as I type. It reminds me that Karl was some sort of magic; he was with us from the start.]

That day I went to Gaby’s house right away. I put the pup in a small green adidas backpack, placed it on his bed, and left the zipper open just enough for him to pop out.

Gaby nearly fell off the bed when he saw the backpack moving. Something was coming out. Gaby and our friend Edgar laughed when they realized it was just a puppy. He was tiny compared to his new owner, a 6’1″ football player and center, but Karl’s playful heart and big dog attitude made them a perfect match.

We got Karl a cute collar and leash, a number of comfy beds which he usually tore to pieces, and countless chew toys and bones at Pet Supermarket.

He was like our first child. We loved and cared for him jointly, never knowing just how much he had brought us together.
April 11, 2013

In the past year, Karl had grown weaker and weaker from arthritis, among other problems that came naturally with aging. He was always so happy to see us, but we couldn’t be happy watching him become frail and misshapen, living with discomfort regardless of medication.

This morning before leaving to work, I recounted that story to Karl about our first meeting at Puppy Kingdom, and how I surprised Gaby.

“I love you buddy. I love you,” I insisted as I patted his head gently and scratched the black and white fur around his neck. I spoke softly to him as if my words could hurt him as much as they were hurting me.

We made the easy decision to put him to sleep.

I say “easy” because it was only logical; he was sick, barely walking, in pain; his quality of life was dismal at best.

It was following through with that decision that was difficult.

Gaby sent me a picture of him and Karl sitting together in the waiting room at the vet’s office. The sad look on his face, on both their faces…

The Doctor concluded it was the right decision. Turns out, his kidneys were also failing.

I wasn’t there with Karl in the end. I suppose I was just being selfish, but I couldn’t bare for him to look at me with those sad droopy eyes that would say, “Goodbye”.
Karl
12/6/1999 – 4/11/2013