In the fall 1999, my daughter, Kris, and I went to pick out a puppy. Have you ever seen teacup Yorkie puppies? They are so dog-gone cute. They look like miniature black bear cubs (the blond coloring on their face and legs comes after a couple of weeks). One of the puppies crawled up the side of the bin, trying to escape. The others sat and watched. Kris and I knew that was the dog for us. The owner painted her claws a pretty orange to show that when she was old enough, she was ours.
Lizzie joined our family in November. She was so small that she fit in the palm of my hand. And her ears . . . oh my stars, her ears were as big as her body. She stole our hearts and became a vital part of our family. (She grew into her ears, too.)
Because Lizzie pawed at her food and looked like a miniature bear, I nicknamed her Lizzie-bear. Two weeks after Lizzie arrived, my daughter, Trizia, came home from her mission. The entire family came to our house to celebrate her return and also Thanksgiving. We had a houseful, but it was wonderful. The day after Thanksgiving, we took Lizzie-bear with us downtown for the Christmas lighting of Temple Square. And then we sneaked her into a restaurant. I ordered a bacon cheese burger and gave Lizzie a small piece of bacon to keep her quiet. Bacon quickly became her favorite food. From then on, whenever she smelled bacon cooking she'd come running into kitchen begging for some.
A special bond was formed between my daughter, Trizia, and Lizzie. Many times I'd find them cuddled together at night. And if Trizia took a treat in her room without her, Lizzie'd scratch on her door, demanding she share.
When Lizzie was not even a year old, we found out she had a liver shunt and could die. The vet called in a specialist to operate because she was so small. That was a very worrisome time. Lizzie pulled through the surgery. But she had to eat a special food most of her life.
Lizzie had a dance she'd do for treats. I guess it wasn't so much a dance, as a spin. She'd whirl around barking and yipping until I'd toss it to her. And then, she'd have to attack it. But not just that, she'd toss it in the air and run after it again. I can't tell you how many doggie treats I've found under my fridge or behind the piano.
And she absolutely hated our Jazz garbage can. If she saw us take it out to dump it, she'd go on the attack. Picture it...this little Yorkie attaching a tin garbage can. I wonder what kind of nightmare she had about it. Oh, and the ladder. Every Christmas when the ladder would come in, she'd have a barking fit. We got so we'd try to occupy her somewhere else in the house.
Lizzie had a doggie bed under my desk. She'd listen to me type on my keyboard, and I'd read her my stories. She heard them all from The Forgotten Warrior to my current work-in-progress. She would interrupt my work around 1:00 p.m. wanting a treat, but other than that, she was the ideal book critic.
One year I had a major deadline and needed to get some serious writing done, so I took her with me to my parents cabin for two weeks. Just Lizzie and me. I thought she'd be a good watch-dog. However, Lizzie was more nervous than I was. She'd growl and bark at every little noise. One day an eagle nearly swooped down and snatched her. She didn't go out alone after that.
Lizzie-bear continued to have health challenges, but she always survived. She was such a little trooper.
However, around the beginning of May I noticed that she struggled to swallow. We tried everything we could think of, but she was losing weight and things just weren't getting better. I took her in to see the vet. He found she had a growth in her throat that was blocking the food. He did surgery to try take out what he could. The vet said during the operation he could see the growth went down to her stomach as well. He suspected it was cancer. He gave us pain meds to help her. But poor Lizzie-bear's pain was too much. I'll never forget holding her all night as she cried. I knew her time had come, she'd suffered enough.
On May 29th Lizzie passed away in my arms. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to have that sweet little spirit in our home.
I will always love and miss her.