On Thursday, June 6, 2019, my wife and I took our fur baby Onchu to the Willard Veterinary Clinic in Quincy, Massachusetts, where we said our final goodbye. He was a sweet little guy that brought us a tremendous amount of joy and happiness, and he will be missed greatly. This is his story.
Onchu came into my life on February 20, 2008. I was living in Southbridge, Massachusetts at the time and had been looking for a canine companion for a few weeks. I did my research on breeds and had decided. I had checked out the website of a local pet store, I did not know about rescue animals at the time, and I had picked one out. I arrived at the store and went to the room where all of the puppies were, and this little black and tan dog kept coming over to me. He was not the one I was there to buy or was I.
I had initially set my sights on a little Rat Terroir, and that was who I was there to see, but while I was trying to decide someone else decided to bring him home. The little black and tan dog was in the corner looking at me and wagging his small stump of a tail. I motioned for him to come over and he did, and well, the rest is history.
So a little about his name. In Gaelic, Onchu means “Mighty Dog.” You see, Miniature Pinchers are the only ones who do not know they are a small dog. They will get in another dog’s face regardless of their size and usually, with some exceptions, the bigger dog will back down. There is also a Saint Onchu listed on the Martyrology of Ireland with a feast day of December 6, the day after Onchu was born. So that is how he got his name.
It had been many years since I had a puppy and, in the beginning, it was a difficult training period although he caught on rather quickly that he needed to go to the door when he needed to go out. He loved to walk and was pretty good on the leash. He also loved to run around the large property where we were living at the time and just generally liked to be outside. At night he would burrow under the blankets, and if you did not have a blanket, he would bark until you put one on the sofa with you so he could burrow under it. He would sit with me no matter where I was or what I was doing. In the breed description it says that Min Pins love to be with their people, and Onchu was no exception to that rule, he loved to be with me.
Thankfully he traveled well in the car, and we would take road trips together camping and to a couple of family reunions. I had a little seat for him that was elevated so he could look out the window and park at everything going by. We were like a country music song and man, his truck, and his dog.
I experienced some pretty dark days in my life, and Onchu was my constant companion. He could sense when I was having a bad day, and he would snuggle with me as I dealt with whatever it was. Looking back, I can say that, at the time, he was my only true friend. Others were scheming against me, but I would come home, and all he wanted was for me to sit with him and pet him. He forced me outside for walks, which helped clear my head, and he would always remind me of unconditional love. I am not sure I would be here today if it were not him during those days.
He moved back to Quincy with me, and he loved my folk’s house. They have a rather large, fenced in back yard and we installed a pet door, so he could come and go. Onchu would stand in the window in the living room, and if some, like his arch enemy the squirrel came by, he would bark at him and then run through the kitchen and out the door to the back yard thinking he was going to catch him. He never did. This would go on for hours, and he never seemed to tire of it.
One day we noticed that Onchu was walking a little strange like he was drunk, so we took him to the Vet. He had blown a disk in his back and was going to lose the use of his front legs. I was amazed at the technology, MRI, Cat Scans, and a neurologist that specializes in Dogs. We were facing a rather expensive surgery, but they wanted to try medication first. Thankfully, he responded very well to the drugs, and he regained some use of his legs. He needed therapy and time to heal, so he was confined to his crate unless he had to eat or go outside. No running or jumping and in time, the swelling would go down. In the end, he regained about 80% use of his legs, and things were looking up.
On June 17, 2017, I was married, and Onchu was, of course, the ring bearer for the wedding. We had a little kilt made for him, and we wore the ring pillow on his back. He stole the show when he found something on the ground to roll around in.
That January, Onchu started with the drunk walk again, and by the end of the month, he could no longer walk. We took him back to the Vet to try the steroids again, but it did not work. I found out about acupuncture and made an appointment. Several treatments and no real improvement, he was going to be paralyzed.
We made the decision to find a wheelchair for him so he could still get around. Other than his paralysis, he was a healthy dog. I am not sure he ever really liked that chair, but he did get around in it although with a little difficulty. But he continued to get worse, losing all muscle tone in his legs and a considerable amount of weight. He would get anxious when I left the house and would cry and whine the entire time I was gone. Because of his inability to get outside, he started to wear diapers, things were not looking good, but we soldiered on.
There came a time when I had to decide am I keeping Onchu around for him or for me. What was his quality of life like, sure he had us and a rather good life being waited on but, he stared at the same four walls all day every day and was not able to run and play like he used to. As with anything else, everyone has an opinion, and I talked to a lot of people, but we finally decided that it was time.
The Vet was, and she reassured us that we did all we could have done, in fact, she told us that we did more than most people would have, and that made me feel good. Onchu was with me during the darkest hours of my life, and I was with him when he took his last breath. He was lying in my arms, and he passed in peace. I like to think of him running around in the grass just full of life.
Pets come into our life lives for such a short period. They bring us joy, happiness, and unconditional love. They are there for us when we need them and are our constant companions. I will miss him, and there is a hole in my heart that will take a long time to fill but, I am happy knowing that I provided a good life for him and that he is at peace.
Thanks, little man.