I’ll never forget that look in her eyes as she lay on the vet’s cold metal examining table. It was hard to look back. I felt like she was asking me, “Can I trust you? Am I going to be okay?” And I knew I was betraying that trust. She was going to die. I was helping her die. And it was breaking my heart. It still makes me cry.
Piglet was the little mutt who was dropped with the rest of her litter on Highway 1 outside the quaint village of Mendocino on the Northern California coast. She was a survivor. She was the smartest little dog–way smarter than her highly pedigreed, adopted brother Dylan, the Irish Setter, who chased the sheep over the cliff by LIttle River and ended up in the animal control truck. Way smarter than her sweet but dumb adopted sister, Flopsie, who we thought would help keep Dylan closer to home. Wrong.
Piglet came to live with us when I was pregnant and taking weaving classes at the Mendocino Art Center in 1970. The teenage girl who had picked her up on the highway asked me to watch her while she went home for the weekend. The girl never returned. Piglet was ours.
She was loved by everyone who met her. Well-known around every town we moved to. She even made it into the Senate records in Olymipia, Washington when we lived there. She liked to wait for the Senators to break for lunch because they would often share their lunch with her. But one time she followed them into Chambers and was the subject of a floor debate about whether they should have her removed. I don’t know what the final vote was. But she came home, wagging her tail happily.
Piglet and my daughter, Tosha, grew up together. The three of us lived with another woman and her dog, and the two dogs used to run out the front door of the house to greet the mailman. One day Piglet picked up too much speed and flew over the flower box, landing two stories below on the ground. I guess she broke her back because her back legs no longer worked. Tosha and I took her to the vet. He couldn’t fix her. And we didn’t want her to suffer. We made the hard decision, trying to do what was best for her. Our eyes filled with tears. But her eyes–that sad, scared, hopeful look she gave me– haunts me to this day.