At about this time, 2 weeks ago, I was preparing to drive with my mom up to McClure, PA to pick up a Shiba Inu puppy from a breeder. She was just 8 weeks old, and she had the most adorable picture posted on the online listing I found.
The breeder was calling her Molly, but I changed her name to Yuna. The breed was an older Mennonite woman, and so when we drove up to their house it was a bit like entering another world. We went inside and saw all the puppies, Yuna and her brothers and sisters. We looked out the window into a fenced area and saw their mom.
As we were leaving, she started to cry. I know that she was scared, but I knew that I was going to be really good to her. We put the sock monkey toy someone (I’m still not sure who) had sent to her back with her and it seemed to help. She slept for most of the drive.
We stopped at Super Pets to get her a harness and some padding for her crate. We also got a bunch of toys. The employees in the store loved her, especially the guy who was checking us out.
When we got home she spent a lot of the evening lying next to me as I sat on the couch. I started taking her out for walks in my parents’ back yard that night, and she was already doing an amazing job of waiting to go outside to go to the bathroom. I’d never seen another dog do as good as her. That night when it was time to go to bed I put her in her crate and she started crying again. I didn’t want her to cry and so I took her out and brought her into bed with me. She pressed herself right up against me all night. I didn’t sleep very well that night, but I know it made her feel safer.
As the days went on she came out of her shell more and started to be more independent and rambunctious and want to run around and play and get to places she wasn’t supposed to go. She really liked to chew. She wasn’t immediately all that interested in any toys or treats, but the bully sticks I had ordered for her were the first things that I found that she loved. She’d chew through them really fast. Then she’d chew on anything else she could find… including my hands, arms, and feet.
We had pretty good routine down during the week. I’d wake up, make my coffee and get dressed for work, then I’d take her outside to go to the bathroom and walk to my car. One morning, we ran into a guy with a couple of dogs off leash and she played with them for a bit. He asked to hold her and so I let him for a minute or so. After we’d get to the car I’d drive her to my parents’ house where she’d spend her days so she didn’t have to be alone.
She continued to sleep in my bed with me the first few nights. She was really good. She started to sleep a little bit away from me instead of right up against me. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night and lick my neck and wake me up. When I would wake up in the morning she would lick my face and paw and bite at my beard.
I took her for walks downtown, and even if it was a time when there weren’t many people out, it was hard to get her even around the block without at least one person stopping to comment on how cute she was or ask if they could pet her. At a busy time I could take just a couple steps out my door and tons of people would stop to say hi to her. Everyone loved her, she was a very popular puppy. She was afraid of walking on the metal doors and grates on the ground. I made her walk on them sometimes because I wanted her to see that it was ok and she didn’t have to be afraid.
She would try to play with Malcolm, my parents’ Alaskan Malamute, but most of the time he didn’t want to. He was getting better at tolerating her, and they did play together in the snow. She liked to bite at his hair, and his tail. He liked to growl and bark at her, and then she liked to just keep doing what she was doing anyway.
I transitioned her from sleeping in the bed to sleeping in her crate, because I thought it would be better long term. She did really good with it, I think she was starting to like it. She would only cry in the morning when she realized I was awake. So I’d try to get up as quickly as possible to let her out. She was always really energetic and would jump up and lick at my face if I was low enough, just like she did when she was sleeping in the bed with me.
On St Patricks Day, I took her for a walk in Baker Park and her harness came loose and she got out. I was really scared. She started running and I had to chase her until she hid in a bush near the clock tower. Later that night, after I took her for another walk, one of my neighbors came out with her visiting family while I was standing with Yuna outside. As we went in, she invited us to come into her place for awhile. I sat and talked with her and 2 of her (I think) cousins. Yuna and my neighbor’s bulldog interacted a bit, but unfortunately the bulldog was a little too aggressive with his approach so Yuna was scared and he had to be held back. We were over there pretty late, and Yuna went to sleep underneath her couch, so I decided to take her home.
On Thursday she had her first appointment at the vet. The receptionist and the other employees there all immediately fell in love with her. When the vet examined her, he found that everything looked good. He gave her a dewormer and a distemper vaccination. Before I left, he told me that he believed Yuna would have a bright future.
After walking her from the car to the apartment, where she was still being fawned over by passersby and even some drivers, I could tell that she was feeling tired. She laid on top of me while I watched TV for awhile and she slept off and on. I eventually got up and put her in her crate so that she could sleep. She cried a little bit because I went over to the other room, but then she was ok. I thought about letting her sleep in the bed that night. I wish that I would have.
We went through our routine that morning, a little rushed because I was running late for work. I let her out and she followed me around as I got ready and made coffee that ended up spilling all over the counter. I quickly got her away from it as it dripped and cleaned it up enough so it wouldn’t keep dripping onto the floor. We went outside to walk to the car and it was much like any other morning. She went to the bathroom on the way, and then we got in the car and I brought her into my parents’ house. She was running along and biting at my Dad’s pant legs. I left and went to work.
This is what was supposed to happen: I was supposed to come to my parents’ house after work ended. She was supposed to be jumping up at the gate that kept her in the kitchen, excited to see me. I was supposed to pick her up and let her lick and bite at my face. Then I’d put her down and watch her run around, and throw her ball for her a few times until she decided not to bring it back to me but instead just lay down and chew it. Then I was supposed to take her home, and she was supposed to irritate the hell out of me chewing on everything. And then I was supposed to play with her some more, and then lay on the couch with her watching TV, and then we were supposed to both go to bed, and then wake up this morning and start our third week together.
This is what did happen: Yesterday around noon, Yuna died. We aren’t 100% sure of the cause, but it appears she suffocated, either due to choking on a piece of her food that may have been drawn into her esophagus, or possibly due to a reaction to the distemper vaccination she had received the night before. I don’t know what the latter scenario would look like, but my mom, who was there with Yuna when she died, and did everything she could to try to save her, believed that she was choking on food. She was rushed to the vet, and they performed CPR, but there was nothing they could do to save her.
I missed my Mom’s phone call because I was on another phone call, but she sent me some texts after she tried to call that I saw immediately after I got off of the phone. I hurried home as quickly as I could, never returning to work after my lunch break. And then I sat with Yuna, petting her and holding my face up against her. She was still so soft and fluffy, and looked so sweet and peaceful. I held her in my arms and I didn’t ever want to put her down. It’s strange the way the mind works, because I felt like if I put her down I would be losing her, but the truth is she was already lost. But then the longer I held her, the more dead she seemed, and I knew I had to put her down.
I wrapped her in a towel, and I placed her out on the enclosed deck behind my parent’s house. And that’s where she is right now, directly behind me, as I type this. Soon I have to call to have her cremated.
Two weeks and a day ago I had nothing less than what I have now, but nonetheless it is a great loss. All I can do is think about the things that I was supposed to do with her.
I was supposed to:
- Enroll her in a puppy class, and teach her to sit, to lay down, to stay
- Help her learn to stop mouthing people and biting up their hands and arms.
- Teach her that it’s ok walk on those metal grates.
- Help her learn to walk better (but she did pretty good for a puppy)
- Set up her puppy pen that had just recently arrived
- Feed her treats through the pet camera I got her while I was at work
- Go on jogs and hikes with her as she got older
- Have to take care of her for years and years
I don’t have that many pictures, because I was supposed to have a lot more time. But I have a few pictures, and a few videos. I don’t want to forget her.
I wanted someone who depended on me and who I had to take care of, someone to come home to after work and who would be happy to see me, and who would love me no matter what.
And for just under 2 weeks, I had that. And then it was taken away. No person is to blame… everyone did everything that they could have done, and what they were supposed to do. Even if it was a reaction to the vaccine, we couldn’t have known that it would happen.
And so in just 2 short weeks I grew to love Yuna with all my heart and then she was taken away from me. She wasn’t quite 10 weeks old. And so today I have to say goodbye. I miss her.