We lost a four legged child tonite.

It was truly a dark and stormy night tonite. Earlier today, we rushed our beloved pekenese to the vet. She was having trouble breathing...the dog, not the vet. The vet said that it was a heart problem, which is...we found out, a common problem among pekes. He gave us some pills to help with Sugar's breathing and water retention and we brought her home.

She, sugar, spent the day breathing hard and my heart broke to see her in so much distress, but we hoped that the shots the vet gave her and the pills would keep her with us for a few more years at least... but it was not to be.

Her "Mom",.. my Goddaughter, had to go to work, and HER Mom was out with her boyfriend at a benefit. I was home but I couldn't stay with Sugar, it hurt me too much to see her suffering. Sugar spent her last hours hidden in a corner between the side of the couch and the wall. When Tina, my housemate, best friend, sugar's mom's mom, came home to find that Sugar tried to get up and fell, got up and fell again and breathed her last in Tina's arms.

11 years. Way too short a time with such a sweet, stubborn, walleyed dog, but there it is. 12 to 14 years is the average lifespan for Pekes and Sugar was so sick. Of course it was a tearful Goddaughter who came home to see her baby, only to find that she had died before she got home, and it will be a quiet household tonite.

See, that's the thing about pets. With rare exceptions, they don't live nearly long enough, and we are always left with nothing but memories and pet toys scattered around the house... and lots of regrets and tears. Pets ask so little of us and they give so much. They love without question and never judge.

So, on this dark and stormy night, I offer this to the memory of a loveable, maddening, stubborn pup who stole all our hearts and gave us back more love than we deserved.

Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Dowager Cixi, (1835 – 1908) said about the Pekenese, a favorite of the Chinese courts for hundreds of years.

"Let the Lion Dog be small; let it wear the swelling cape of dignity around its neck; let it display the billowing standard of pomp above its back.

Let its face be black; let its forefront be shaggy; let its forehead be straight and low.

Let its eyes be large and luminous; let its ears be set like the sails of war junk; let its nose be like that of the monkey god of the Hindus.

Let its forelegs be bent; so that it shall not desire to wander far, or leave the Imperial precincts.

Let its body be shaped like that of a hunting lion spying for its prey.

Let its feet be tufted with plentiful hair that its footfall may be soundless and for its standard of pomp let it rival the whick of the Tibetans' yak, which is flourished to protect the imperial litter from flying insects.

Let it be lively that it may afford entertainment by its gambols; let it be timid that it may not involve itself in danger; let it be domestic in its habits that it may live in amity with the other beasts, fishes or birds that find protection in the Imperial Palace.

And for its color, let it be that of the lion - a golden sable, to be carried in the sleeve of a yellow robe; or the colour of a red bear, or a black and white bear, or striped like a dragon, so that there may be dogs appropriate to every costume in the Imperial wardrobe.

Let it venerate its ancestors and deposit offerings in the canine cemetery of the Forbidden City on each new moon.

Let it comport itself with dignity; let it learn to bite the foreign devils instantly.

Let it be dainty in it's food so that it shall be known as an Imperial dog by its fastidiousness; sharks fins and curlew livers and the breasts of quails, on these may it be fed; and for drink give it the tea that is brewed from the spring buds of the shrub that groweth in the province of Hankow, or the milk of the antelopes that pasture in the Imperial parks.

Thus shall it preserve its integrity and self-respect; and for the day of sickness let it be anointed with the clarified fat of the legs of a sacred leopard, and give it to drink a throstle's eggshell full of the juice of the custard apple in which has been dissolved three pinches of shredded rhinoceros horn, and apply it to piebald leeches.

So shall it remain - but if it dies, remember thou too art mortal."

And I will await the day when I reach that lovely field, beyond which is the Rainbow Bridge... where all my loved and cherished pets will be waiting for me, healthy and young again and we shall all cross the bridge together, never to be parted again. Farewell sweet Sugar.

Catherine Linda Michel

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