On the evening of June 4th, our sweet Cider dog left this world, taking a piece of us with her, but leaving us with wonderful memories. She was a cockapoo (cocker-spaniel/poodle mix) and just shy of 10 years old. Her birthday was September 2nd, the day after our oldest son, Parker’s birthday (she was two years older than him, and he loved that their birthdays were so close).
We got Cider in late November of 2008, just over a year into our marriage. We went to see the movie Bolt (back in the day when going to the movie theater was something we did regularly), and somehow an animated dog movie left us feeling like we wanted a dog. I mean, I had wanted a dog as a child, and Clint grew up having dogs, so it wasn’t completely out of the blue, but it was still pretty silly.
We thought we wanted a cocker-spaniel. We wandered into a pet shop, and there was Cider. She immediately caught our attention. We were not familiar with what a cockapoo was though, so we left and did some quick research. It didn’t take us long to determine that a cockapoo would be a great family dog (we didn’t have kids yet, but we expected to someday, so this was a priority for us), and the no shedding sounded awesome (and it was). So just like that we became dog parents.
When we told our parents that we had some exciting news to share, apparently they were expecting us to say something other than, “We just got a dog!” 😂 They need not worry though… a whole litter of grandkids was just around the corner for them.
Clint came up with the name Cider because her coloring reminded us of apple cider. She eventually ended up with many nicknames, including Cider Poo, or Poo for short, and Smu (I guess because it rhymed with Poo). That first night we tried to have her sleep in her crate in the living room downstairs like responsible people, but she cried, so she ended up sleeping on the floor in our room (which became her permanent sleeping location). She also had a hard time with us leaving to go to work in the beginning, so I would often drive home on my lunch breaks to be with her.
We happened to get her just before Thanksgiving, and we had plans to visit Clint’s brother and sister-in-law for Thanksgiving, so we took Cider with us. We kept stopping throughout the drive to try to get her to go potty, but she wasn’t potty trained yet, so our attempts were not very effective. And for the same reason, during our stay, Cider peed all over the carpet (we were the worst guests ever, but they were very gracious about it). At one point during our trip, I thought it would be fun to take Cider on a walk, but I didn’t realize that dogs had to be taught to walk on a leash, and I ended up having to carry her.
So after we returned from our trip, we enrolled her in a class at Petsmart, and she learned basic commands like “sit.” We laughed abut teaching her “come” because she never wanted to be away from us. We didn’t even have to say “come” for her to come running over to us. She was a lover from day one.
We thought her hair was so beautiful that we never wanted to cut it. Eventually though she became a shaggy mess, and we had to accept that we needed to get her a haircut. We were traumatized when they gave us a scrawny little dog back– apparently half of her size had been in her crazy hair! We asked them to keep her hair on the longer side, but it was such a tangled mess that they couldn’t.
Cider became a part of our family. Whenever we went on walks or did outdoor activities, she came. If we went on vacation, to the river, or to my parents’ house, she came. And as our family grew, Cider welcomed each child with love and patience. The kids really enjoyed having a dog. They always wanted to be able to hold her leash, play tug with her, feed her treats, build a fort for her, or chase her around. She was protective of them, just like she was of us, and she was loving even when they were too rough. It didn’t hurt that they dropped a lot of food on the floor for her to eat.
Cider’s passing was rather unexpected. She had some moments in her last few months of not seeming quite herself, but overall appeared to be ok. On the day of her passing (last Monday), I knew something was wrong because all of a sudden she was barely moving and not eating. I contacted Clint, and he made plans to take some time off work the next day so we could take her into the vet. Shortly before Clint arrived home that evening, I discovered that she had peed blood, which we read could be indicative of cancer (we now think that was the most likely cause of her passing).
That evening, after the kids were down, Clint and I watched TV as I folded laundry. Cider was lying down near us and the door (she often positioned herself as such so that no one could come or go without her knowing). She had almost no strength left, but she was determined to watch over us until the end. After our show ended, Clint went to get Cider for her evening potty check and discovered that she had passed.
We couldn’t believe it! She just looked like she was sleeping. In fact, she was still warm. I sat next to her for a while, stroking her, hugging her, and sobbing. It was a very difficult night. The next day I was a mess, but I didn’t want to tell the kids that morning and have them go off to school upset. Fortunately, our mornings are so busy that I was able to keep them from noticing. Clint took off from work early that day (last Tuesday), and we told the kids the sad news that afternoon. Then we all went into the backyard, and the boys helped Clint dig a hole under the trees for her. Once it was ready, I took the kids inside, and Clint buried her. That Thursday was the kids’ last day of school, so Clint took the day off work, and we used the opportunity to make a stone for Cider.
What makes losing a dog so hard is that they are always there. Dogs are a part of the everyday moments of our lives, and there is a comfort in knowing they are there. They may just be lying on the floor nearby or walking next to you. You may not even be paying them much attention at all, but you know they are there, and they know you are there, and that makes you both happy.
As I look through our photos I am amazed at how many pictures of Cider there are. Not only are there a lot of pictures that feature her, but she’s also in the background of many other pictures because she was almost always with us, and when she was with us, she was never far from us. She considered it her job to keep an eye on all her people.
I am grateful that she passed peacefully, presumably comforted by the familiar sounds of me and Clint nearby. I am also glad that Clint and I were awake and together when it happened and that the kids were asleep. God was clearly watching over us and loving us through that painful day. Looking back, I am amazed at how Cider’s love for us and for her life never faded. The Friday before she passed, she squeaked it up when my mom arrived, as she always did when she saw someone she loved. Even with her strength fading, she still summoned up the energy to walk with us to school and play at the park that Friday. Only a week before her passing, she was at the river with us, one of her all time favorite places to go (my parents’ house also being at the top of the list). It is nice that she was able to spend her final days doing the things she loved most.
I am incredibly touched by how brave Cider was being for all of us to the point that we didn’t realize what was happening until her final day. She loved us with a perfect love from the day she joined our family until her time to go came, never once wavering. Everyone should be so fortunate as to get to experience unconditional love like she offered us.
We love you Cider! ❤