About 15 years ago, as newlyweds, Nicole and I moved back to Lubbock so that I could pursue a dream and attend law school. At the barn where we kept our horse we met a variety of people with whom we are still friends. One such clan was the Couch family: Chelsea, Steve, Danielle and Mason. We went with them to a barrel race on a Fall weekend never knowing that our lives would be changed forever.
Danielle Couch came up to Nicole with the cutest little mixed-breed, Jack Russell puppy in tow. “Nicole, you HAVE to take her! The ‘lady’ says that her husband told her to get rid of these puppies ‘OR ELSE’!” Nicole has a level of compassion for God’s Creatures Great and Small that exceeds most people on the planet and the “sale” was complete. I am usually a little more resistant to adding “things that rely on me for their existence” to our household than my bride. We already had our dog “Zip,” the apartment only allowed one dog and neither of us had regular income outside of student loan disbursements. But being a newlywed, I relented much more quickly than I do today.
Our other dog, Zip, was not a fan of the new “lovable, little fuzzball.” In truth, Zip’s level of acceptance was eternally limited to toleration (at best). The first night at home for the nameless puppy will never be forgotten. She insisted on being under our feet and I managed to step on her little doggy foot—the wail she released was tragic. Although the injury never slowed her down, that foot turned outward a little bit forever. Nicole and I are big proponents of kennel training-the puppy was NOT. She cried so loud that we had to heap blankets over the kennel to muffle the sound-I was convinced she would be suffocated in the morning.
Several days passed and we finally settled on the name CeeCee. She quickly acquiesced to the kennel, made herself “at home” and began the eternal role of annoying her doggie sister Zip. For the vast majority of her life CeeCee was ultra-active like any Jack Russell Terrier. Running, bouncing, and obsessing. CeeCee loved to play fetch and was great at catching Frisbees.
She hated baths, but loved the water—rivers, lakes, streams, water troughs and even dirty puddles. At the Doremus River Cabin at Rio Frio CeeCee was fearless in her love to swim. It wasn’t uncommon for her to throw herself into the current only to be swept downstream with a gang of volunteer rescuers in hot pursuit. Father’s Day weekend of 2018 was spent at the Frio-she was afforded her own tube for the float. Nicole took up paddle boarding a few years ago and CeeCee loved to ride at the bow like a figurehead and search for fish to chase after. CeeCee was not a good passenger and often tipped herself and Nicole into the water.
CeeCee was not a “dog’s dog,” but rather a “human’s dog.” Even on the coldest nights she refused to cozy up with her sisters—opting first to sneak up on the bed with Nicole and me. CeeCee was not afraid of other dogs. She once spotted a Pit Bull lurking at our front gate and fearlessly struck out to defend her territory. Nicole and I were convinced that this act of bravado would be the end of our precious pet, but the interloper retreated and CeeCee chased it about 200 yards down the road. This only emboldened her for the future.
The rodeo business puts us on the road quite often in the Spring and Summer in Texas. CeeCee relished going for rides long or short. When the trailer was loaded up she knew that she was soon to be on an adventure with her humans. In the trailer she has a special “den” underneath my desk where she napped. At night she would frequently jump up on the couch or climb into the nose of the trailer where Nicole and I slept. CeeCee was always a “bed hog” preferring to sleep between my feet—grousing when I fussed too much for her liking.
CeeCee even has her own “rodeo story!” Several years ago the mutton bustin’ sheep escaped (with her help) from the Lexington Texas rodeo arena late in the evening. As a service, CeeCee chased the sheep into the back pens, but the back gate was open-spilling the sheep into the night. The entire crew was scrambling to recapture the sheep and CeeCee, now leashed, remained in the pursuit. The powerful dynamo that she was, CeeCee jerked the leash out of someone’s hands and shortly thereafter managed to re-pen the wild and wooly sheep-dragging her Flexi-Leash along the way. The involved parties will share the laughs forever.
Late last year we noticed that CeeCee was taking much more time to drink water. We discovered that there was a mass on her tongue. After referral to the veterinary oncologist we were told she has squamous cell cancer on her tongue. The diagnosis was poor and the options were few. The oncologist said that the treatments for this scenario had little or no positive impact. Nicole and I opted to make her as comfortable as possible with pain medication and lifestyle adjustments.
Nicole was the perfect “dog mom.” She did whatever was necessary for as long as possible to keep CeeCee comfortable. Nicole experimented with every type of food and method of preparation possible so that CeeCee could continue to eat and drink. CeeCee progressively became less able to eat and in the last week Nicole and I decided that it was “time.” We wanted to put this moment off over and over again. Just one more day. Last night we slept little and almost prayed the daylight would not come so we could stay with our precious “nugget” for a little while longer as she slept at our feet.
Many people are asked, “what superpower would you want and why?” Without reservation I would choose the ability to speak to animals. These perfect little creatures are parachuted into our lives and they rely on us and in exchange make us very happy. If I could just communicate to them, in words, the following: 1) how much happiness they have brought us, 2) how much we love them and 3) that we are broken hearted when they are in pain and when they are gone.
This is my envisionment of what they deserve at the end of their days. A party and a parade celebrating their life. Petting and rubbing from everyone they ever remembered. The snacks that they most relish. An “understood” speech from their humans expressing their unlimited love and admiration. And lastly, an easy trip to the greatest doggy daycare ever imagined where they would play with all of their long lost friends and their humans would join them soon. No pain, no suffering, no confusion—just unending love and enjoyment.
An extremely gentle veterinarian came to our house today and let CeeCee’s suffering end as she lay in her favorite bed and snuggled in a blanket in her own home. Nicole and I held her and stayed with her the entire time. CeeCee was one of the treasures that has been around since the beginning of our marriage and we will miss her more than we can ever express.