I fell in love with Suzuka’s picture on Petfinder in the fall of 2000 when she was in a no kill shelter in Victoria, TX. She had been dubbed Nellie, and her brother, Miki, was Lance, and I wanted to adopt them desperately. When I first saw them I was still living at home, and my parents didn’t want more than the two resident dogs. I pined and kept returning to Petfinder despite knowing it was fruitless.
I ended up purchasing a house in October 2000 although I couldn’t close until November, so my roommate and I drove to Victoria to meet Nellie and Lance. They agreed to care for them for another month if I adopted them, and my only chosen pups joined my life full time in November 2000.
Suzu wasn’t perfect (she did kill a kitten I had during a fierce chase and was quite cat aggressive until the last few years), but she loved children cautiously and learned that new people were sources of good attention (most of the time). My little girl did have a feisty side, which is why she and Akane battled for dominance for years, and Suzu also had to be kept separated from Perdy. Overall though, Suzuka was an easy dog to live with who enjoyed visiting my parents and hosting fosters.
I began fostering rescue dogs when Suzuka and Miki (the Twins) were nine months old. I’m sure the constantly rotating competition was hard, but generally Suzu helped acclimate shy, country dogs to life as house pets. She even formed some close friendships with longer term fosters and took some puppies under her wing.
Suzu’s biggest challenge to me was her escape artist tendencies. She managed to squeeze through a less than six inch gap between the chainlink fence and the wall of the house on several occasions, and she spent one harrowing night missing before returning home on her own.
My little girl had a mind of her own, and vegetables were not for eating. However, Suzu was not a picky eater most of the time. Her finicky mealtime behaviour was my first sign that something was wrong…by the end I was having to force feed her broth and NutriCal because even after a major dental Suzu had stopped eating solid food.
Suzu lost the ability to walk two weeks ago, but since my family’s first dog was paralyzed for nine months before his death, I was ready to care for Suzu as needed. I diapered her overnight and during work, so she wouldn’t have to sit in her own pee, and I learned how to coax her bladder to work when I took her out. The dog stroller got a workout with regular strolls around the block, and Suzu would happily watch the world as she whirled past.
I expected Suzu to give me a clear, intense sign like Aka, but she was a much gentler personality. Instead of collapse and sharp fear, Suzu softly faded until she didn’t have the energy to lift her head last night. She wasn’t curious about the world anymore, which was her sign.
My heart is shredded right now, but Suzu basically fell asleep quickly in my arms and looked at peace. She was ready for the next stage of her journey.
Miki and Patience seemed unsurprised that I returned without Suzu, so they sensed something that I couldn’t…or that I chose to ignore. I am just keeping them close today, and I will return to the real world tomorrow.
Go in peace, my little girl. Akane, Perdita, and Romany are waiting for you (even if you’re only excited to see one of the three), and I’ll never forget how your love and devotion helped open me to the rescue world and brightened my personal life.
You are always my good little girl, and Mommy loves you.