Martha Stewart’s dog, Paw Paw, died and for some reason I am really sad about this. Paw Paw (and Martha’s obsession with animals) was one of the main reasons I first started liking Martha. Hey, I was like 14 and had no interest and cooking or any of that Martha Stewart stuff, but I was in love with dogs. Paw Paw looked like a little lion and Martha was always talking about him. Whenever people would say Martha is “cold” or “bitchy,” I’d argue with it because if you’re really cold and bitchy, you don’t have that kind of compassion for animals.
I really feel for Martha because I know exactly what it’s like to go through the death of an animal you’re so close to. A lot of people do, but it just feels really personal when it happens to you.
I was the kid who got bit by dogs every other day because I annoyed the hell out of them. I was the kid who went to MSPCA camp just to play with the dogs. I read Dog Fancy at age 7 because I wanted to learn everything possible about dogs. I grew up with the best little dog in the world and maybe I’m slightly biased, but I have never met an animal as good as she was. She died when I was 11 years old, and you know what? I still miss her intensely sometimes.
Peaches must have had nerves of steel to put up with me. With never so much as a growl, she sat while I dressed her in jewelry, sunglasses, scarves, and hats. When anyone asked me who my best friend was, I said Peachy. She came in my room and sat with me every time I cried. I fell asleep with my face buried in her fur while she sat in her “spot” at the top of our stairs. I never ever saw her bear her teeth at anyone. She never jumped or barked at anyone. Not the best guard dog in the world, but the most amazing companion.
I strongly believe that part of my childhood was defined by that dog. I would not be the person I am today if it was not for her. The day that she died was the most painful day of my life. I do count myself lucky that I’ve never had any human close to me pass away, but they really would have to be pretty close to me to make me feel the same pain I felt when Peaches died.
I’ll never forget when my parents told me we were putting her to sleep. I flipped out. They waited until the night before to tell me because they knew I would be far less than OK. They told me at the dinner table, and I immediately screamed that I hated them, called for Peachy and locked myself in my bedroom with her. My parents tried to explain it to me. And I knew they were right. I knew it wasn’t OK that Peachy wouldn’t walk up the stairs anymore. And that all she ever did was lay around. I knew it wasn’t fair to make her go on living like that. But I couldn’t accept it. I tried to run away with Peachy that night, but I didn’t get farther than the back yard before my parents came and got me. I spent the entire night awake and crying.
The next morning, the vet came to my house. Peachy hated being in the car and we didn’t want to put her through that in her last hours. She had her head in my lap as the vet gave her the shot. I will never forget the look in her eyes. I’ll never forget looking at my dad and for the first time in my life, really seeing him cry. The vet left with Peachy and my family just stood there crying and hugging each other. This is what a broken heart feels like. This is what it’s like to lose your best friend.
We still talk about her all the time. If we have something for dinner that she would have liked, we call her name to the table. My dad still finds the bones she buried in her backyard. We laugh about the time she ate the bouquet garni off the kitchen table. And when she’d disappear and then return hours later covered in burrs. My family never got another dog. I think we knew none would ever be as good as Peachy.
I think people too often underestimate the power of pets and how they can enrich our lives. Peachy gave me that kind of inconditional love that nobody could ever match. And who couldn’t use that sometimes?
Me and my little pup. In the home-made frame I made at MSPCA camp. Try to ignore the wallpaper in the kitchen.