My wife and I recently moved to Amman, Jordan and took new jobs at one of the international schools in this ancient city. It has been an exciting move, especially after a year of being forced to spend a year in a country and losing one of the aspects of this lifestyle that we enjoy the most, traveling. Though the opening of the world is still moving slowly, the change of scenery has been rejuvenating, and experiencing the change of seasons has been great. I never knew how much I loved this change in my life, and it is wonderful to experience the crisp, cool mornings of autumn again.
Despite all of these advantages, there was one we were really excited about. We had talked with the new school we were moving to, and made sure that they would supply us with a place that we would be able to have a pet in. It meant moving into a smaller apartment than the rest of the people starting with us, but after living the last six years in the big cities of Southeast Asia, we have learned a minimalistic lifestyle and didn’t really want a big place to begin with. It was more important that we ended up in place with a yard, so we could have a dog to share our time with. We were waiting until after we settled in, and our first big break before we talked with the rescue shelters and found the perfect companion for our place, but sometimes life moves quicker than you expect.
Enter into the narrative, a little puppy that was found wandering the streets of Amman as a stray. The city has a few of these running around the empty lots, but from my experience, they are still rare to see. It is not the like the soi dogs that could be found on the streets of Bangkok, but they are still here. Still, it is more common to run into stray cats scurrying throughout the neighborhood rather than a lone puppy looking for a companion.
Anyway, my co-worker had found this puppy running around her neighborhood. She took her in, and her daughter named her Socky for the white paws that she had. Her mom knew that they could not keep her because they already had a dog, and she knew many other people who were looking to adopt a dog. Of course, our name was top of the list. Within five days of them finding Socky, she was at our house running around, pulling shoes out of the closest, and cuddling up to us as we watched television later in the evening.
It was not exactly what I thought would have happened. My thoughts of adopting to a dog went to us finding an older dog that needed to be rescued and giving him or her a great life that they never experienced before. The older dogs are usually a little easier to bring in for the adjustment. You don’t have to house train them, and they don’t take the time that a puppy does. But when a cute little bundle of joy falls into your lap, it is hard to say no to her, so we ended up adopting her.
The first thing we did was change her name to Suji. We couldn’t keep it Socky because too many people thought she was named after the Japanese liquor, and the new name had a nice connection to the neighborhood we lived in Seoul. We also spent time puppy proofing the house, bought a few puppy comforts to make her feel at home, and took her out a regular basis to make sure she understood what it meant to go to the bathroom outside. It was a little bit of work, but it was worth it. She only had one accident in the house, and she was quickly becoming a part of the family. We were experiencing the love that can only come from a brand new puppy.
On the fourth day of being new dogs owners, we came home to find that Suji was exhausted. We did not think about it much because we had hired a dog sitter to come in for an hour a day to let her out and to play with her so she wouldn’t make a mess of the house while we were gone. The main worry we were having was a cough that she was developing and the fact that she wouldn’t eat or drink anything. Once again, we weren’t too worried about it because we had set up a vet appointment the next day so we could take her in to get a quick checkup and talk to them about eventually having her spayed. We could see if it was something serious then.
Well, the next day, we got a text from our dog sitter saying that Suji was running a little bit of a temperature, and she was having trouble walking. She still wasn’t eating or drinking, and our worry grew. This was beginning to look like something more serious than we originally thought. We rushed home after work, and took her to the vet where we were told that she had distemper. This is a disease that many stray dogs contract when they come in contact with wild animals. In older dogs, there is a slim chance of them surviving, but in puppies that chance is reduced significantly, and if they do recover, they will have extreme neurological damage for the rest of their lives. During the last stages of the disease, the brain and the brain stem swell causing loss of motor function, and severe seizures that are extremely painful. After some blood tests, it was shown that Suji was not responding well, and the disease had a great chance of progressing quickly. We had the tough choice to make, and we went with the advice of the vet and let Suji go in the thought that we were helping her overcome what would otherwise be a very painful ordeal that would have ended the same way.
Even though we had just gotten to know this little puppy, it was still an extremely difficult decision to make. It was a painful moment, but I do believe that we had done the right thing, but I don’t want to leave this story making you feel bad. That is not the purpose of this narrative. It is to talk about love, and how sometimes it is a long hug, and at other times it is just a short breath, but either way it is still a powerful emotion and one that I wouldn’t change for any other experience.
Suji’s life was short, and the time that she spent with us was even shorter. I could count the days that she was in our lives on one hand, and though I do not like the way that our relationship ended, I still loved the time we got to spend together. She brought a joy to our house for those five days. The way she smiled and wagged her tail when we got home will never be forgotten. The excitement she showed when I told her she was a good girl for peeing outside made me just as proud of these small accomplishments as she was. The greeting she gave every new person she encountered to spread the love that was inside of her was unforgettable. Those puppy moments where she would love to play and explore followed by those other puppy moments where she just wanted to cuddle were moments I will never forget. She brought love into our house, and I will be forever grateful for her for doing that. She had renewed a part of myself that had been missing for a long time, and I hate the hole she has left behind, but she has let me know that this kind of feeling is still out there waiting to be experienced again.
It might be a little while before we get another dog, but I now know that I need one of these furry friends roaming around my house. I know I will love the next dog just as much as I loved Suji, but I will always be grateful for her to bring this unconditional love back into my life. Even though it was a short love story, any moment that you get to experience love it is important, no matter how little amount of time they may be.
Thank you, Suji, and I hope that you rest in peace.