This post is about my furry best friend who passed away recently unexpectedly. Her name is Angel and she had been with me throughout the 12 years of her life.
I was 11 when my Mom bought Angel from a breeder in Bishan whose Shih Tzus are all of champion bloodline. She was barely 2 months old and was so tiny and quiet. She had a twin brother and I remember vividly that Mom and I were deciding between her and her brother in the play pen. In the end we chose her as we preferred females but since she was still very young, we left her in her mother’s care until she was a few months older.
I came home from school one evening and was pleasantly surprised to see the little Shih Tzu resting in her cage. I didn’t know she was arriving that day! She was quiet and not definitely as active as the puppies you see on display in pet shops. She just slept until it was mealtime, when she would slowly walk to the bowl and nibble the soft puppy food. We kept her in the cage for several days as she was too small to roam around at home but she never once barked for our attention. That was when Mom and I thought she was really sensible and special.
Even then we still hadn’t thought of a name for her. Eventually we named her “Angel”, which was taken from her pedigree name reflected on her SKC cert. Her full name was “Singlion’s Angel Ov Love”. She was indeed an angel in my life.
On the onset of her freedom, she was still rather sheepish and didn’t dare to move around much until we started playing with her. She grew to be more playful and cheeky. Slowly, she recognised her name but like other new pets, she also started defecating and urinating everywhere in the house. She once even pooped on my Dad’s mattress while we were out which resulted in her getting a huge spanking from my Mom. We didn’t want to toilet-train her because the floor in our common toilet was always wet and we didn’t want her undercoat to be drenched in the process, so we cage-trained her. Gradually, she understood that all her businesses (including vomiting) had to be done in the cage. She also learnt to bark on her own when she heard noises at the door or when somebody comes home! These “skills” were then passed on to Chubs. She was an extremely intelligent girl 🙂
No pictures when she was a puppy unfortunately, because I didn’t have a camera back then.
When she was 4, she gave birth to her first batch of puppies which unfortunately were all sold away. Thankfully my Mom still keeps in contact with some of the owners. She went on giving birth the second and third batch with the latter being absolutely accidental. I was there during all 3 labours to help her break the placenta 🙂 After all her puppies were sold, she was left alone again. And probably because she didn’t have to care for her puppies anymore, she became active and energetic again.
This went on for the next few years until she turned 10. Her eyesight and hearing started failing but she could still eat and play normally, just less responsive to our calls. That’s fine and we still loved her as much as before, but that also made it more difficult for us to ditch negative thoughts of her leaving us sooner or later.
During the same year, she ran away from home (probably when my Dad was leaving for work, he left the door open and Angel sneaked out when he was wearing his shoes) and my Mom didn’t realise it until I returned home from school (was already in Poly) at about 7pm. Usually Angel would bark and welcome me at the door but on that day she was nowhere to be seen. I panicked, asked my Mom where Angel was and that was when she recalled not seeing Angel for the past 4-5 hours. We rushed down and searched high and low for Angel until midnight but to no avail. I had work the next day but I requested for leave of absence because of this. I cried so hard that day as I thought I had lost her. Thankfully some passers-by saw her and with eyewitnesses’ accounts, we managed to traced her back within 2 days. She was rescued by one of the shop vendors in the vicinity and I was overjoyed to have her back.
As I got older, I took on jobs to earn extra income hence I was able to throw mini birthday celebrations for her at Doggiestyle Cafe during the last 2 years of her life. It was something I’m so glad I did. I remember how her face lit up when she saw the sumptuous food we ordered for her. She had barely any teeth left so I had to hand-feed her. But really, no complaints. I really enjoyed my time with her 🙂
My room door was always left ajar so that she could come in. When she found herself alone in the living room, she would try her luck and see if anyone’s bedroom door wasn’t closed properly, and then used both forelegs to push the door open. Mine being the first bedroom she’d usually target always ended up as her first and final successful try (my mom and sis didn’t like her to be in their rooms because Angel loved to shake the loose fur off her body). When she’s in the room, she’d look for the owner as if to inform her that she had allowed herself in.
Despite her age, she still had energy to play with us. We would do the bunny-hand posture and lumbering walk and Angel would respond with a high-pitched bark and run off. We do this almost every week and we could see that Angel was enjoying it too because sometimes she’d assume that we were playing with her and run off even though we were just looking at her (lol). But we didn’t know that her heart was already failing and all these vigorous exercises just made her heart even weaker. Then signs started showing on her final week where she’d often feel breathless and was always chocking on nothing, but it was on and off and we thought it would go away. In the wee hours of 9 August it became worse. She retreated to a dark corner and appeared very weak. We wanted to bring her to the vet but it was already 2am and all nearby vets would be closed by then (what’s more, it was National Day). Frantically, we went to Google for afterhours emergency contact numbers and we found one at Jurong West, just 15 minutes drive away from my home.
In the car to the clinic, Bf probably foresaw that Angel wouldn’t be able to make it through the night so he took my phone and snapped a picture of Angel and I. It was taken in the darkness and both of us can hardly be seen in the photo but I’m never going to trash it.. Because that was my final picture with Angel.
Angel remained breathless throughout the journey but all I could do was to hug her tight and hope that she’d recover soon. However, it never happened. The moment the vet saw Angel, he quickly carried her into the operating room without uttering a word. While my family, Bf and I were waiting outside, we could hear Angel’s cries. It broke my heart into million pieces.
After a long wait the vet finally came out and spoke to us. He said Angel’s heart was failing and swelling badly. Hence it was unable to pump enough blood and all the fluids in her body were blocked by the swollen heart and trapped in one area. She must have felt really terrible. We were advised that if Angel made it out that day, she’d have to be on long-term medication to prevent the heart from swelling again.
We left the vet without Angel because the vet wanted to put her under observation overnight. The vet remained very optimistic which gave me hope that I’d see Angel again.. but the hope was dashed when I received a call from the Vet about Angel’s death at 9am. I was devastated.. I wasn’t ready for that.
Seeing how grief-stricken I was, Bf helped to make cremation arrangements for Angel. We went back to the vet to collect her body and I broke down again when I saw her carcass wrapped up on the table. Her eyes were half opened and the cloth used to wrap her up was wet with her saliva. Every night I’d brush her fur and tie her topknot to keep her neat and tidy but I didn’t have the chance to do so on that night before. So I retied it heavy-heartedly while tears rolled down my cheeks. I hope Angel looked her best on her way to rainbow bridge 🙂
Anyway, we engaged Tengoku for their cremation services because I wanted Angel to be cremated privately. They were really understanding and patient with me as well and I really appreciate that. They offered to cancel Angel’s license on my behalf and even sent my cards to make me feel better (but I ended up crying again geez lol). If you’d like to know, I opted to collect her ashes (same-day collection) instead of allowing them to scatter into the sea because I don’t believe the theory behind dispersing ashes.. I mean, I don’t do it to my deceased relatives so why should I do it to my dog? She was close to me like my sister.
Right now, Angel’s urn is still on my table and I’m still trying to find a columbarium for her. If anyone’s got a place to recommend, please drop me a comment. 🙂
I miss you Angel.. Hope life’s much better up there. We’ll meet again someday 🙂