BRONX, NY- Three years ago, I lost my Pomeranian, Scrappy, to a heart attack. He was only four years old. My family and I miss him very much. His little barks when someone was at the door, the way he would sleep by my sister’s side as she watched a movie. He followed the football on the TV screen during a Jets game. Scrappy was my walking buddy and when he died, I wasn’t motivated to exercise anymore.
Many things went wrong the day he passed away. I remember the piercing bark that came out of him during his heart attack. He collapsed on the floor and vomited. He slowly dragged himself under the couch. Alondra had just turned eight years old, and she was crying and calling for him to get out from under the couch, but he wouldn’t move. I was in tears while I called the vet and explained the situation. I called Mami and she got home a few minutes later. We pulled Scrappy from under the couch, wrapped him in a blanket, and got in a cab.
The cab ride to the animal hospital felt like the longest ride of my life. Mami was in the front seat with Scrappy in her arms. I was praying in the back seat with Alondra. I held her as she cried. Scrappy’s eyes were open but the usual joy in them was gone. I was praying to God so much to save my dog. We arrived at the animal hospital and the vets did everything they could for him. Unfortunately, the vet told me the two words that broke my world apart: “I’m sorry”.
My heart shattered to a million pieces and I already knew I would never fully recover from this. Scrappy was placed on a metal table in a private room so my family and I could give him his last goodbye. His eyes were closed. He looked like he was asleep, but I knew this time he was not going to wake up. Alondra hugged him and cried, she kept telling him how much she loved him. I finally lost control of myself and had a breakdown. Scrappy was dead and there was nothing I could do to save him. I stroked his fur and told him that I will miss him very much and that I loved him. My mom said her goodbyes as well.
I never noticed when my aunt and cousin arrived. The vet assistant told us we had to go. I refused to leave. Leaving meant accepting Scrappy was gone. It took a while for my cousin to separate me from him. The process was harder with Alondra. Her tiny hand being pried away from Scrappy’s fur still vivid in my mind.
We did not have enough money to bury Scrappy. His remains were cremated and spread in a pet cemetery. The drive back home was painful. Alondra screamed to have our dog back. When I got home, I didn’t have the heart to tell Papi that his football partner was gone. He hugged me and my sister tightly in his arms. I wish he had the chance to tell Scrappy goodbye. I cried my eyes out. Seeing his toys, bed, and food bowl was a reality check. He wasn’t coming back. There was a sneaker he slept with since he was a puppy (a chew toy my uncle had no choice but to surrender when Scrappy started teething). I still have it to remind me of him along with the Jets shirt my dad got him and his first puppy sweater. Alondra kept a small stuffed squirrel she had given him. It means a lot to her since it was a small plushie she got from a happy meal and used it to play with Scrappy.
Alondra’s grief continued. A week after Scrappy’s death was her first communion, and it wasn’t the happiest day for her. There was a little carnival on my block. She grabbed some blue sidewalk chalk and wrote Scrappy’s name on the street. That made both of us smile a bit.
I often reflect on this day. Scrappy had heart problems as a puppy and the vet warned us, he would mostly likely last two years. We took such good care of him that he made it to his fourth year, but the guilt still eats me up. A part of me wishes I could have known what to do to save his life, and I wish Alondra had never seen him die like that. He died in pain and that was traumatizing to us both. I just hope he is in a better place now playing with other dogs and that my Abuelo is taking good care of him.
My family has Shakira now, and we love her dearly. There are times we often wonder how Shakira and Scrappy would have gotten along. R.I.P. Scrappy. We miss you very much and will always love you.
Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos
Last updated: September 7, 2021