All dogs go to heaven

Leafy Trea

Trea (pronounced Tree-a) was 11 years old when we put her to sleep this morning. She was a purebred Cairn terrier complete with an award-winning lineage and papers. My Aunt Bernice made a very good living in the United States breeding these dogs and it was she who gave Trea to my mother when she was a puppy.

Trea’s mother’s name was Pennyroyal of Maple Leaf Farms, and in the pedigree tradition of handing down similar names, my mother named the puppy Leafy Trea.

A Cairn is a Scottish breed, first developed to catch vermin on farms. Toto from the Wizard of Oz was a Cairn. Small but mighty, Trea was born a brindle colour (dark brown and yellow), but grew black and bushy. Cairns are not very big as terriers go, but Trea was even smaller, the smallest of her litter.

My husband and I are not “dog people,” but our daughter Robyn is, and she wanted a dog badly. After much persuasion, she convinced us and my mother offered to give Trea to Robyn for her thirteenth birthday. Trea was six when she came to live with us.

True to her word, Robyn looked after Trea. She walked her every morning and afternoon, made sure she was fed and watered and cleaned up her messes. My daughter cuddled the dog regularly and told her to be quiet—this was a highly ineffective command for a dog that went ballistic every time the smoke detector was set off by the toaster (a daily occurrence).

Or when the doorbell rang.

Or when somebody new came into the house.

Or when she saw a chipmunk or another dog from her perch in front of the window. There was always something to bark at. Always.

But to quote Robert Munsch, “that teenager grew. She grew and she grew and she grew,” until Robyn started sleeping way-in on Saturdays and going away for weekends and attending sleepover parties.

So frequently, I also had to walk, feed, talk to and cuddle the dog, rain or shine, summer or winter. And we got to know each other.

When she was outside, she had to smell everything. Everything. We had many arguments about it.

Even though she was not much bigger than a foot-stool, she thought she was a Doberman. She would lunge at any dog, regardless of its size. We live in an age (and a community) where people treat their dogs like children and call them “baby” and frequently take their dogs out to “play” with other dogs…they all seemed so disappointed when they discovered that Trea was a Grumpy Gus.

I learned that she liked clementines. Like, went mental if you peeled a clementine and didn’t give her all of it.

She had an unlimited appetite for playing fetch…by the time the ball was a sticky, gooey mess and smelled of dog breath, that was enough for me. But Trea would simply go to every other person in the room.

And I never had to depend on the doorbell, because she barked non-stop when someone came to the door.

Until this summer.

She stopped eating, she was sick often, she was lethargic and preferred sleeping in her bed. She stopped getting up to see who was at the door. The house grew silent. And now, it will be hard to get used to the silence.

I wonder why Trea became ill this summer of all summers, the summer Robyn graduated from high school? Robyn leaves for college in two weeks and won’t be back until 2014. Maybe Trea just didn’t want to live without her.

If God has a place in the next life for dogs, I pray that Trea will be able to outrun the ball like she could when she was young and that finally, once and for all, she’ll catch all the obnoxious gray squirrels that she couldn’t catch outside our door.


  • Rebecca Harnum on September 7, 2012

    So sorry to hear Trea’s passed. Saying a prayer for the Bulmer clan, specifically Robyn. Much love..

  • Kathy Mercure on September 7, 2012

    You made the tears squeeze out. Such a lovely and fitting obit for a feisty dog. Nothing too sentimental. So sorry for your loss, because even if she wasn’t yours, she sounds like she managed to work her way into your heart.

    • Rhonda on September 7, 2012

      She did, Kathy! We’ll all miss her.

  • Charmaine on September 7, 2012

    I remember almost 10 years ago when Ours had to be put to sleep while I was in Tennesse. That was an awful day. I cried. Craig (who loved the cat) cried, and Amy (who didn’t love the cat) cried. Christine cried. We all cried.

    It’s a lonesome thing to put an animal to sleep. And heart wrenching. WEll, it was for me.

    I hope the pain doesn’t last too long for anyone.

    • Rhonda on September 7, 2012

      Yeah, I’m not too interested in doing that again.

  • Deborah Carr on September 7, 2012

    I’m so very sorry, Rhonda…you spunky little thing…you never said a word today. A fitting, affectionate, honest tribute to a wee thing who obviously leaves a big silent hole. And I am absolutely convinced that dogs have a great smelly field for romping and rolling in heaven.

    • Rhonda on September 7, 2012

      Thanks, Deb…it probably would have put a damper on the dinner discussion! I was trying to spare all of you from some maudlin conversation. I’ll probably miss her when she doesn’t greet me at the door the most.

  • Suzanne LeBlanc on September 8, 2012

    Thanks for this Rhonda. Yes, a great smelly field and she will never smell like the smelly field when she comes to you!

    These creatures become such a big part of our lives. I hope your happy memories console you with your loss.

  • Lynda MacGibbon on September 8, 2012

    I will always remember you greeting me behind your closed door saying, ‘just a minute, I’ll put the dog upstairs’! Lovely piece, Rhonda. It’s so interesting how major chapters in life — in this case a daughter and her dog — coincide. Leavings are hard.

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