(Walpole Island, Ontario, Canada)
Most people thought Gum was an unusual name but it fit him because he was small and white and everybody liked him. And we almost lost him a lot earlier when a much larger dog picked him up and chewed him. He had to walk around with straws protruding from his torso so the skin could heal back onto his torso while water slowly dripped away. By the way he rebounded from that, I knew he had a strong love for life. My late father picked him out from a litter of chihuahuas he saw advertized. He was the whitest one and it was almost as if he was the one doing the choosing. My father had one year with Gum before he passed on, leaving Gum with my mother. It was easy for everyone to see he was choosing again, this time with both my mother and myself. My mother loved him until it was time for her to join my father and there was no doubt he was going to live with me next. Although I was never really a pet person at the time, he grew on me much more than I even realized and soon he became the focus of all my attention. I took him with me all over and we would walk all the urban parking lots and country parks together, Gum happily bouncing behind me. Our little escapades made those days the happiest memories I ever had. As he grew older, he became the most popular dog in and around my neighborhood. All the other dogs came to respect him too and left him alone to go where ever he chose. It wasn't unusual at all to see my siblings and friends coming to visit him before me. His strong love for life kept him around for more years than any other pet, he was well into his 18th year when things started turning around for him. I guessed it started dawning on me when I saw that he was sleeping longer and more often. Other age related things started happening too with the cloudiness in his eyes and his weak hind quarters and loss of balance. Everybody knew the inevitable, but God wanted me to make the call while I waited for Him to. Bar none, this was the absolute hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. Ever. We had one last walk in the park together before the appointed day and my heart started to break, something I never experienced before. Every fibre of my being was crying out not to do it but I knew it was my love for him that prevented me from being that selfish. On that day I felt like a death row prisoner making his final walk, everything seeming so surreal. Gum was ever trusting, even when they put the intravenus in his leg and place him in my arms. He died in my arms along with the biggest part of my heart. My head felt so much like a bag of wet cement, it hurt. My voice became so choked up I couldn't make a sound. I would hurt for many many days after that but I knew he was in a happier body in a happier place with his first two owners, and waiting for his last one. It's been about a month or two since we parted, but with little scenes running throughout my mind of him and myself, and others to keep me going I can't help but appreciate the time I got to spend with him in this world and anxiously wait until we can meet again. I snapped a picture of him in the clouds not too long ago. Everybody I show that picture to can see him also. Now its his turn to be looking down to me. I love you so much, Gum. I feel your presence everywhere I go. It's going to be a great day on that rainbow bridge when I can hug you once again.....