Lessons from Velvet the dog: Matt's Memo

Velvet with her cupcake, Christmas 2013.

Our pets teach us so much. In her final weeks and months, Velvet the poodle had relinquished her title of head dog in charge of the house. Her circle of life had come around. She needed a helping hand to eat. She needed the water bowl held up so she could drink from it. She needed to be turned in the right direction as her eyesight failed her.

It's hard to believe it was 17 years ago that this rambunctious poodle zipped around the yard so fast she could not be caught. Her coat was black as coal or velvet. That's what I named her even though Velvet actually belonged to my mother-in-law.

Velvet grew into a healthy ten pound poodle. She split time between her hometown of Rome, New York and her vacation home in Fayetteville. She matured. She attached herself to her owner. She provided a sense of security, warmth and energy to an otherwise quiet home.

Velvet showed great spirit when visiting the veterinarian. She was not a fan of being poked and prodded. But, her adorable little face would always win the day.

Velvet mellowed in her older years. She spent much of her life with our other poodle Shamrock. Velvet was the young dog, Shamrock the senior citizen. Later the roles changed after Shamrock passed away, Bentley joined the fold becoming the young dog to Velvet's senior role.

Two years ago it became apparent her kidneys were starting to slow down. At the time we thought she'd be around for another couple of months. That turned into another couple of years. It was a bonus.

She taught us about compassionate care. In these final weeks her energy and strength faded. We held her close. She appeared soothed by our touch and comfort. Jamie deserves extra credit for giving Velvet every chance to continue on in a meaningful way. But, finally the time had come to utilize the power to end any suffering and provide Velvet relief from her struggle.

We miss the click clack of her little feet on the hardwood floor. We miss her quietly resting under her blankets in her bed. And as we look back nearly 17 years, we miss Velvet in her dog prime. She did teach us a lot - even in her final loop of the circle of life.


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