"Little man." That's what my friend Kathy used to call him.
Gizmo was one of my first “rescues,” a failed one at that. He was found on my block by one of my neighbors and brought to me because she figured I would know whose dog he was or could find his owners. Turns out that his owners had just had a new baby and simply didn’t have time to care for Gizmo and couldn’t figure out how to keep him confined in his own yard. When Gizmo came to me, he was already 10 years old, had kidney disease, a grade 5 heart murmur and infections in both eyes. Dr. Francie told me he “might” have a couple of years. My original intention was to “clean him up” and find him a home. I didn’t know much about rescue back then; I didn’t yet know that there aren’t that many people out there willing to take an old dog with major medical “issues.” Not that it really mattered because after a week in my home, I decided Gizmo was here to stay. Gizmo was as close to the perfect dog as one can get. He was sweet, friendly but very calm and mellow. He was quiet, well behaved, house trained … all he needed or wanted was a place to hang out and a few treats now and then.
Dr. Francie was wrong, Gizmo was with me for three and a half years. For that extra time, I am very grateful. Somehow, though, it is never long enough, we humans tend to be greedy in that respect. Here is what I wrote about him the week he died:
Wednesday morning, I finally let go of my little Gizmo. He had not been doing well; he had not eaten anything since Saturday and even after 2 days of IV fluids, Gizmo refused to eat anything. When I woke up at 5:30 am on Wednesday, I found Gizmo laying on the floor, very limp, cold, having a hard time breathing, his heart racing. I knew the time had come but it was still hard to accept. I cried all the way to the vet's office, Gizmo laying on the passenger seat. I cried for the next two hours sitting in my vet's "quiet room," holding Gizmo close to me, trying to keep him warm. Those two hours were the most difficult yet most special time I've ever spent with Gizmo. I had time to think about what this "little man" had taught me. Gizmo taught me that sometimes it is a good thing to put aside your wants for the good of others. I'll never forget the time Gizmo spent over 4 hours sitting on a dying man's lap. The man was Ted, a family friend, who was dying of cancer. Gizmo was not really a lap dog and after a few seconds on your lap, he would normally jump off, preferring to lay by your feet. But somehow Gizmo knew that Ted needed him to be a lap dog for those few hours they shared and so Gizmo was a lap dog for him.
Gizmo also taught me that sometimes you need to be fearless, even when you are outmatched. There was the time a neighbor's loose Springer Spaniel charged my 3 dogs in our alleyway. Gizmo struggled, pulled and wiggled until he somehow slipped his collar (the only time he would ever do that) and then chased the Springer down the alleyway. The Springer is much younger and at least 3 times bigger than Gizmo but Gizmo knew he is just a bully and so he chased him off, away from me and the other dogs.
After he was gone, I held him a while longer, telling him over and over again, how much I love him and how I will never forget him. Then I brushed him and put a nice new collar around his neck. He always got very upset when I took his collar off so I wanted him to have a collar to take along with him. I also sent a tag so he will never get lost again -- his previous family lost him many times before I found him. And his favorite toy, a stuffed monkey he would play with every morning after we came back from our walk. Then I wrapped him in a warm, soft, fleece blanket so he will always have something comfortable to sleep on.
He was my gift from Heaven and now he is back where he came from. So long my "little man" ... until we meet again. Thank you for finding me. As hard as it is to lose you, not having you in my life would have been an immensely bigger loss.