How I Became One of "Those People" Who Dress their Dogs
Paxton was my first small dog rescue. At the time, my other rescue dog was a 125lb Siberian Husky. Although Paxton was only 8lbs, he felt he was actually 125lbs. When he met a large dog on a walk or at the park, he would swagger (well, more like stumble due to his lame leg) up to the big dog, throw out his chest, tilt back his head, and bark (well, it was more like a cough). At that point, generally he would fall over and the owner of the big dog would have a stroke thinking their dog had killed mine from sheer fright!
Paxton was the first dog I bought clothing for. I should note that this was over a decade ago before pet clothes became mainstream, and at the time it seemed to be mainly ladies with what were called "purse dogs" in elaborate outfits. But I discovered in winter, he would shake – literally – from cold even in the house because he was so old, and he had a heart condition which caused his blood circulation to be poor.
So I bought him a sweater and discovered he stopped shaking and his arthritis seemed to be better because it kept his joints warm. In fact leaving a sweater on him overnight helped him be more comfortable as he never stayed under the blanket I tried to put over him. And, he wasn't a "Houdini dog" like Mimi and Kenny, who would wriggle out of their sweaters in less than 5 minutes!
Because Paxton was so old and on diuretics as part of his heart medicines, he frequently peed himself in his sleep. So not only did I start dressing my dog, he ended up having a wardrobe because I had to buy extra sweaters since in the morning the underside of his sweater had some urine on it. It was this situation that made me think of the solution of placing a potty pad with a plastic backing underneath his dog bed (had extras of those too) so when he peed it didn’t seep into the bedding and mattress. I did the same thing when he sat on the couch. I tried having him sleep at the foot of the bed but he was so used to sleeping with me he cried all night and I didn’t his brief remaining time on earth to be spent thinking he was being punished - especially due to what brought him to my home.
I went to a local shelter that day and found out he (and Mimi) were on Death Row; euthanasia was scheduled for 7pm. This was Noon and I was on my lunch hour. I called my boss and said I wouldn't be back to work that afternoon. Fortunately he was an animal lover and gave me his blessing and vacation time. Paxton was almost 15. He had a lame leg that literally dangled, bleeding ulcers, diseased and rotting teeth, heartworm positive, a systemic infection from the dental issues, and a leaky heart valve and murmur.
And he was the happiest dog you ever met in your life. There’s a life lesson there for us all.
The dog who was given less than 6 months to live had just under 3, good, happy years. We got his heartworm treated, his leg fixed, his teeth fixed, and medicines to help his arthritis, ulcers, and heart. He loved to go to the park every day to run around and bark at huge dogs, give me kisses, snuggle tight against me, and of course put on a fresh sweater from his collection - and shop for new ones.
I still miss him. As my Mum said, "You never get over losing a pet; you just learn to live with it." On days my attitude needs some help, I remember Paxton and adjust my outlook back to positive just like he would have been.