That little dog with the beautiful grandson is Koto. Koto was my mother’s dog. Well, he was my sister’s dog, a therapy dog (though I never saw him in seizure detecting action. It became clear not long after he moved in with us that he was retired.) He moved in with us when my mother did. We’d heard stories from my older sister, (not a fan) my mother and sister (Koto’s two biggest fans) before he moved here. We knew he was spoiled. “a vegetarian” He “needed” pumpkin and special moist food, expensive moist food. When we noticed that he was having no trouble with Jake’s food, we quickly ditched the expensive food. He came to us with a list of issues from separation anxiety, fears, stomach problems, leg problems, and a heart problem. He did occasionally have a leg problem–probably from leaping off the bed to the floor–a big jump for a little dog.

Mostly  the problem with Koto is that he looked at you. I remember calling Denise from the road. HE IS LOOKING AT ME. She mocked me. He had a troublesome underbite. And a more troublesome habit of LOOKING AT YOU. It didn’t take long for Denise to note this disturbing habit. He was a Shih Tzu. (or a shit it is you!) He had a Napoleon complex. He bit me several times. Hard. Usually while I was prying something inedible out of his mouth. (He had a fabulous habit of shredding toilet paper and incontinence pads.)  He yipped. He had full on freak outs when it stormed. He needed grooming constantly but hated it being done. In the last year, I had finally settled on a cut that I could deal with for him–super short all over with a fluffy tail. It kept the goo off his face and made him smell better. My mother hated it though. She wanted him to have a “skirt” but usually by the time he got to the groomers he had gotten too dirty and matted to consider it. Other than running after my mother, yipping and barking, he had settled into old man doghood pretty well.

Then we brought Skeeter home. He and Skeeter had their tiffs. But, Skeeter was good for him. Koto was more active, more alert, less bossy (because he had Skeeter to boss around). But I noticed once we had Skeeter that we really didn’t need to put Koto out on the lead while we stood watching them. He would stay in the yard. He was slowing down.

When we got home from BlogHer Food, I expected he would be more yippy and bouncy when we picked Skeeter up from the kennel. Since Mama stayed here, we hadn’t boarded Koto. But we had a lot of storms during the week. I suspected he was worn out from being on guard duty with Mama and then staying up with the storms.

Friday night (after of course the vet was closed) Mama said “Something is wrong with Koto. He isn’t eating and he is drinking a lot.” Me: “He has been into Skeeter’s puppy kibble. (He had hadn’t he? I thought so then. Last night when I lifted his weak body, I wasn’t sure.)” Both dogs are drinking a lot. It is hot”

I wasn’t really worried. He needed grooming but he looked ok. Mama tended to worry a lot about Koto.

Saturday he didn’t look as ok. But I just mentally thought “we will take him in Monday if he isn’t better” Saturday she said he is really sick Tarrant, come take a look at him. Is there something we can do? I went and checked him out. I remembered that we had some dog pain killers leftover and thought I would give him one. It wouldn’t hurt. It might help him be more comfortable. In any case, they would have helped Mama feel like we were doing something. Koto promptly bit the hell out of my thumb. Cue much cursing. No meds.

Saturday? Sunday really–just after midnight, Koto started vomiting. It was brown and horrible–not coffee grounds. But that vomit of a very sick dog. “We can take him to emergency care, but that will be expensive”

Sunday morning he looked worse. All day we talked about what to do about him. I would take him out to use the bathroom. He would and then he would lay down out there. Skeeter would nose him but she wouldn’t bother him. When that happened I got really worried.

Mama was worried. I was worried. I had cursed the damn dog a million times, but as I told Mama last night, he is a horrible damn dog, but he is our horrible damn dog.

Last night, Skeeter came in to Mama’s room, where she is never allowed. It is Koto’s domain. Koto didn’t leave his bed. Skeeter started to approach,but she sniffed the air, she looked at him. She whined and left. That was when Mama started to believe what I was saying, this wasn’t something that would be easily cured with some pills, an iv, and a different food. We talked about taking him in. She was thinking she wanted to, she didn’t want him to die at home. I asked her why. She had no good answer. She didn’t want him to suffer. Koto didn’t seem to be suffering, just shutting down, confused, tired. I got up to leave her. He got up to follow me out. I took him outside. He didn’t want to attempt the stairs, so I carried him out. I sat him down. He took a few steps and curled up on the ground, looking at me with dull eyes. The new puppy next door barked. Skeeter immediately stood in her pointy look there is a dog stance, but Koto didn’t bark, so she didn’t. She kept looking at him confused. He stood up and wandered behind the bush nearer to the neighbor’s house but didn’t bark. Skeeter looked defeated. So did Koto. I carried Koto in and put him back in his bed. I told mama to get some rest but she stayed up with him all night. He passed away at 5 am. He didn’t suffer other than I think he would have really had rather made like an old cat and just vanished rather than have his people see him so poorly.

I’ve cleaned Mama’s room. I dealt with Koto’s body. I have thrown away his bed and stuff. (She asked me to do so)  He was an old guy. The house is quieter. Skeeter keeps looking for her dog. My thumb is grotesque and hurts. It doesn’t hurt quite as much as my heart. No, I wasn’t a Koto fan. Denise and the kids weren’t fans. But, he was much loved especially by my mother and sister. He loved them back. He came when I called and would follow me. I won’t be working and realize there are eyes LOOKING AT ME. I won’t have the easy knowledge that if something happens to mama on the other end of the house that the little dog will come get me. My heart misses a dog I didn’t even like that much. Darn dogs. I feel guilty because everyone on Facebook is sharing their condolences for a dog I know I have complained about there and here. Even now.On the other hand, maybe I didn’t like the fluffy spoiled little dog who yipped and stared, but I loved him and miss him. And so does my dog. And my mother and sister. Hurting my mom and my sister is so hard even if I am pretty sure that Dr Google is right and there wasn’t anything we could have afforded to do and even if…would have put the pup through pain, fear and suffering.


  1. I’m so so so sorry, Tarrant. You know that I know from recent experience how hard it is to lose a dog. And it’s almost 100 times harder to lose a not-so-great dog. Sending hugs and love your way, my friend. Domino met Koto at the gates to heaven this morning and now they are playing and barking at the other dogs.

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