It was a sad departure for my mom and me yesterday.
Not so much for the mother-daughter farewell as I head back to China, but more for the loss of our Chihuahua, Xiao Lao-lao, Little Old.
Despite my best efforts, and those of our veterinarian, Little Lao-lao had to be put to sleep on Thursday. In China, we call this 安乐死 (ahn-le-suh). The literal translation is “peaceful death” or “safe death.” Such a nice way to say “euthanasia” and one that feels more appropriate for our little guy.
Our veterinarian office has a special room for owners to say goodbye to their furry friends. This is where I found myself on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. In a small lounge room, equipped with comfy couch and plenty of tissues, the staff laid out a blanket for Lao-lao. I took my seat with the dog, wrapped up in his blanket, and waited.
My stoic demeanor came close to collapsing when the staff came in, one by one, to say goodbye to our little dog and ask if I needed anything before he was put to sleep. I was truly touched by their concern and understanding.
Thank you so much to Farm and Family Veterinary for everyone’s sympathy and hugs during that difficult moment. I especially appreciated Dr. Ericka Yeley, who quietly walked me through the entire procedure to make sure I was fully prepared, then made sure I had plenty of time to say goodbye, both before and after, without feeling rushed.
Everyone’s process is different when euthanizing a pet, I’m sure. Ericka’s many years of experience as an animal caregiver certainly showed. She was a wonderful comforting presence throughout and I am deeply grateful.
Lao-lao’s Speedy Little Gait Missed About Town
I imagine Lao-lao’s absence will be noticed in my area.
Everyone knew Lao-lao.
For 9 years, his fame has spread throughout Marshall, not only due to my articles about him in my hometown newspaper, but also my mom’s weekly column, “Walk with Me,” in which she muses on her thoughts while walking the dog.
Lao-lao and my mom have always been seen together, winding their way along sidewalks, across streets and down the center of Archer Avenue or around the courthouse. He’s been carried into the library and even the post office, if my mom needed to quickly mail a letter. At the United Methodist Church, Pastor Richard Lewis and office manager Kelley Ray knew Lao-lao well as he’d pop in for visits every so often whenever my mom, Outreach Committee Chairperson, had some church duties to fulfill.
Where most dogs were excluded, Lao-lao received a pass as an honorary Marshall resident and citizen. No frowns, scowls, side-looks of annoyance or “No dogs allowed, please!” came from any of our Marshall folk.
Lao-lao was always welcome.
I can’t paint the rosiest of pictures by saying Lao-lao was the friendliest of dogs, however. He had somewhat of a nippy disposition in his old age, one which had him giving toothless snaps at those he didn’t like.
Even my mom and I had a few of those if we petted him too much.
He’d squawk and trill his discontent on many occasions. We labeled these uniquely, startling Lao-lao vocalizations as his “Stop messing with me!” cues and we took them seriously. We left him alone and let him snuggle deep down into his blanket, happy to be ignored until it was walking or feeding time.
Despite his crankiness and odd idiosyncrasies, we still loved him.
Farewell, Little One!
My mom and I will miss our little guy dearly but we know he is safe and sound, nestled deep in the arms of Buddha — the best sort of heaven a Chinese dog can ever hope for.
Here’s wishing you Ping An, Peace, Little Lao-lao. You will be forever in our hearts.