Betty with her favorite toy
I found Betty indirectly through a shelter. They had names of people on a wait-list wanting to give up their animals but the shelter did not have space for them (it was a no-kill shelter). I called several people on this list until I stumbled upon Betty’s original owner. A woman’s grandson was trying to find “him” a new home, saying his grandmother no longer cared for the dog. In fact, the poor animal was left outside most of the day in the hot Texas sun (this was in June 2001). I said I would take the dog, sight unseen, thinking at the time it was a male dog that didn’t even have a name.
It turned out “he” was a “she” and her name was Betty. She was delivered to us in a laundry basket in the parking lot of a church. She was thin, her fur not in the best condition and she had some sores on her nose and butt. Off to the vet she went for a complete physical and for some medical attention. She came home a couple days later with a clean bill of heath. Over the next few months, with proper nutrition and care, her fur grew into the softest coat I have ever felt. The wounds healed and her personality was starting to come through.
My husband and I could not have asked for a more special dog. She had such personality and love for us and I told her everyday how much of a blessing she was in our lives.
At 8:15pm each evening, she would go into the kitchen wanting her bedtime treat and would bark until she got it. She had dozens of toys but her pacifier was her favorite. Each night when she was told it was “night night” time, she would pick up her pacifier and bring it to bed. I work from home and Betty was with me throughout the day in her bed right next to my desk. She knew when she would see me at my makeup mirror that I was getting ready to leave the house and she would go into her crate, often unasked.
Mothers often say they know what their babies need by the tone of their cries. We knew what Betty wanted by the tone of her bark. She had a language that only we understood.
Betty also loved to get gifts; we would always bring her back a souvenir anytime we went on a trip. Each year we celebrated her birthday (which to us was the day we got her), her Christmas stocking was hung on the mantle next to ours, she had her own Easter basket and she would always get a special Valentine from mommy and daddy. When people would ask what kind of breed Betty was, our answer was "spoiled rotten". I think I always wanted to make up for the two years when her life was not so good.
Betty was the glue during the time my husband and I were on the brink of divorce. Neither of us was willing to give her up to the other person. We somehow found our love for one another again through her.
Through the years, Betty developed some medical issues that required surgery but she was such a trooper through it all. During the last few years of her life, my husband and I did not take vacations, as we did not trust anyone to care for her. In fact, when my mother died my husband was unable to come with me to the funeral because it occurred during a time Betty was medically unstable and we simply would not leave her in the hands of anyone else. I think my mother would have understood; she too was a dog lover.
Betty passed away unexpectedly on June 29, 2010. Her heart gave out and now a piece of mine is gone. My husband and I don’t have children and I think to childless couples or people that live alone, pets become an even more important member of the family. I feel her absence every morning when I get up and each night when I go to bed. She is the first and last thing I think about each day. It is difficult for me to go into my home office and work and see her empty bed next to my desk. Often I set up a TV tray in the living room and work there. I also will lie on the floor next to her dog bed, as it still has her scent.
Betty’s urn is on the mantle and I find myself talking to her at times. I feel so sad and empty without her and feel like my one true constant joy in life has been taken away. She was only 11 years old and we had her for 9 of those years. It wasn’t enough time!
People tell me to get another dog and I find this comment offensive at times though I know they mean well. You don’t tell someone whose child just died to get another one right away and Betty was in every sense of the word our child. I need time to mourn her loss and get through a day without breaking down into sobs.
The other morning I woke up to what I thought was her bark, which was quite often what would wake me up each day. Later that same day my husband made the comment that he thought he heard Betty bark while he was in the shower. I said I had heard her too. At first it was easy to dismiss that what we had heard was a neighbor’s dog bark but the more I thought of it, I believe it was Betty saying Good Morning to us and telling me it was time to get up. It did bring some comfort knowing she is with us in some way.
Betty will always live in my heart and we have so many special memories of our time together. I miss her terribly and loved her more than I could ever imagine was possible.