March 27th, 2009

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“Are you sure about this?” I stare into those big brown puppy dog eyes and I know I’m sure about this. Her name would be Cinderella, along with the numerous nicknames that I would be giving her. It was winter. I just discovered snow is her favorite toy, this big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy is pure white. Covered in snow. This big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy is all mine.

I look up and I swear this dog was bigger than life itself. She never stops running and is much larger than me. I’m only in kindergarten but I’m still older than her. However when it comes to size and endurance, age has nothing to do with it. Cinder’s healthier than my whole family and full of energy. Today is her first day with us, we’re a new family. She’s was my first pet and I have all these plans for her. She will be able to roll over and fetch, this was going to be the best thing ever. Best day ever.

“Are you sure about this?”

I open my eyes. The veterinarian has a dull look in his eyes. My gaze instantly shifts over to those big brown puppy dog eyes that I long to see staring back at me. They are closed. Cinder is too old, too sick, and way too tired to keep them open. This big black beautiful female German Sheppard is fighting for every breath she takes, and things are not going to get any easier for her.
It’s cold in the pet hospital, but it was spring break so it was warm outside. It’s that odd kind of weather that makes your bones ache from the changing seasons. The kind of weather where you would give anything for it to stop raining and just see a little bit of light, a little bit of hope. But this day had no hope; hope was gone a long time ago. I am 17. It’s the Friday before returning to school from spring break. I’m trapped at an animal hospital. Silence is everywhere. A doctor who knows me too well and my mother, who won’t stop crying, provide my only forms of entertainment. Spring break ’09.
Perfect soccer weather. 14 years old, of course I love to play in the mud, soccer was just my excuse. The light drizzle outside accompanied with a frustrating morning at home created a need for tyranny. My sister would not shut up; everything that came out of her mouth was a scream or bitter comeback. Any excuse to leave the house would have been fine with me but soccer took the gold cup. I grab my old jersey while I sprint out of the house to meet my mom and the big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy in the car. Cinder wouldn’t sit still. She sees me in my jersey and she sees her jersey in my hand. It’s time to play soccer. She knew it. I crawl into the backseat with her and proceed to put Cinders jersey on her. From experience I learned the easiest way, first over the head the right paw and the left paw proceeds after it. We arrive at the field to see the referees checking the players. That big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy jumps over me, trying as hard as she can to get out of the car that much faster. Cinder knows we arrived at our destination. My big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy could not have been any more excited unless it was snowing. She held her own leash in her mouth, walking herself as if to say I’m too old for this leash. All those years in agility school have finally paid off.
Cinder trots to my team as they call her over. All eyes on her. She was the only big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy around, and she was the only dog wearing an XL blue soccer jersey. Our team mascot. Today is the first day I realized Cinder ran sideways. Her front half went to the left, while her back half went to the right. What a silly thing do to, if only I would have known
“Are you sure about this?” The words came out of my mouth but the voice didn’t sound like mine. Shaky and unfamiliar. I’m a month away from being 17 but I sound like I’m 8. My mom stood next to me as if to reassure me he was right. The doctor nods as if there is nothing to say or do; there is always something you can do. “Ask and thy shall receive” my mother always taught me, so I ask the dreaded question, “What can we do about this?”

“Her spine is deteriorating,” they try explaining to me for the third time “all we can do is give her pain killers”. My expression remains the same. Sick. Dumbfound.

My puppy, my big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy has an expiration date stamped on her as if she’s a gallon of milk sitting in the fridge. I was told she wouldn’t make it ‘til Christmas. It’s late September. Cinder with those big brown puppy dog eyes had no idea what’s going on. She only knew pain. Dr. Schmidt scribbled on his steno pad, prescribing Cinder three pain killers, while instructing us to come back in a month for a new prescription of stronger sedatives.

“These are the strongest sedatives we have Miss Woppel, there is nothing else we can do. Her condition is worsening, it’s physically impossible for her to get better.”

March 27, 2009 it’s 9:30 am. The doctor’s running late and our appointment has gotten pushed back. I had come home from Lake Geneva late the night before, I walked in and the house was almost silent. I heard a heavy breathing in the corner, I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. Cinder had never sounded like this before, I knew instantly it was not good.

Finally we are taken into a patient room the nurse starts prepping Cinder for the vet. I quickly explain the heavy breathing.

It seems as if we waited an hour for the vet. I read the same K-9 flea, tics Advantixs poster at least 9 times. I learned there were approximately 8 different types of fleas and such. The vet finally arrived. He starts doing the routine check, tail, ears and then her stomach. He feels a lump. Dr. Schmidt looks at Cinders chart, she has had a growth on her side for a while, but it was nothing to worry about. This lump was new. He checks her gums, they’re this ashy pale white color, my big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy was anemic and she probably has a tumor in her stomach.

Dr. Schmidt said he would like to take x-rays of her stomach to see what is actually wrong. “But if I am correct then the circumstances are not good.” My vision suddenly became blurry and my checks became red hot. Cinder’s suppose to live with me when I finally move out, she’s suppose to be there when I come home from college. She was younger than me.

The nurse came back in to take Cinderella out of the room. Luckily the x-ray machine was in the next because my big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy could no longer walk for more than 10 feet without having to sit down. Fifteen minutes pass before the nurse comes to show us the x-rays. The vet explains that they were not able to get a clear picture of her stomach because of her spine problems but they can definitely see the outline of a tumor. He shows us the other x-ray. It’s a picture of her spine. He proceeds in telling us the extreme circumstances of her condition.

“If she was human she would not be able to survive like this”

All eyes turn to me except the one set of eyes I want to see. Those big brown puppy dog eyes that belonged to that big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy are no where in sight.
The first day we got her I was in kindergarten. The decision was made to make me Cinderella’s legal owner. Making this simple decision was the beginning of me making the hardest decision. I look my mom in the eyes for some sort of sign, but I already know what has to be done. The only question is if I could say it or not. I try to speak but nothing comes out. Tears well up in my eyes. Everyone knows my answer without me saying a word. “You would only be putting her through more pain if you didn’t do this. You are making the right choice” Dr. Schmidt tries to reassure me. But the only thought I can think is I am giving up on my oldest best friend.
They bring me out into the lobby to sign papers; since I’m a minor my mother must sign everything also. I can feel everyone’s eyes on me, everyone waiting for me to crack under pressure. The other owners know what is happening I can see it in their eyes. There are three dogs, and two cats in that waiting room, but it’s the quietest place I have ever been.
After all the papers are signed they bring me back into the examination room. Shortly after they brought that big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy back into the room. It was going to be done right then and there. I lifted her up onto the examination counter for the last time (none of the nurses have ever been able to lift my 68.2 pound dog, so why should they now). They shave her front left paw. Those big brown puppy dog eyes were non-existent. They explain that since she is an older dog it might take longer for the drugs to work, but I know she’s done fighting and it shouldn’t take very long. They insert the needle and almost instantly my big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy went limp. As I hold her head up I can feel the weight become heavier and heavier. I stroke her head while Dr. Schmidt takes out his stethoscope, “She was gone”. My big black beautiful female German Sheppard puppy’s expiration date has long passed, but somehow she managed to fight for an extra four months. My mom says she fought to see me graduate. She walked me to my first day of kindergarten and wanted to walk me home on my last day of senior year. Instead her end was during everyone’s favorite part of the school year. Spring Break.





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