by Bernadette A. Sahm

Our little “Buddy” Chipper

Chipper is our Christmas baby boy who was born on December 21, 2011. When I first saw him at the pet shop, he had a “reduced price” sticker on his crate. He was slight, the runt of the litter and his left paw turned inward.  I asked to see him and spent some time in a private room with him. We immediately took to one another. I gave him back went for a walk and called a friend. Should I get him? We already had another Bichon at home. Happy was born in 2009.

I couldn’t leave the area without taking him. I felt “the pull” of when you know this is for you. I bought him and a few new things for him. My husband and I were having a little tiff and not talking. Recently our daughter had unexpectedly left home. It felt right to bring a new love/life into our family.

I sent my husband a photo and he later said that when he received the photo, he said to himself, “that dog is in my house!” When he came home from work, he picked Chipper up and almost immediately bonded with him. We had talked about getting another pooch and with the help of my high school friend Joann picked out his name. We wanted a name synonymous with Happy and so Chipper it was.

My husband never liked when I referred to Chipper as having been on the “reduced rack” for a quick sale. To me it was humorous because he was the perfect fit for our family. Our son met him and said, “you are going to like it here!” Happy on the other hand took a little more convincing that this was a new sibling for her to learn to co-exist with.

In a few weeks his papers arrived from the American Kennel Club, he was a pure-bred Bichon Frise and much to our delight had the same parents that Happy did. They were true brother and sister just born from different litters. It was perfect and so was he!

Chipper never knew he was small and was always the alpha-male taking on much bigger dogs without fear. We had both Happy and Chipper from 2011 until 2018 when we lost Happy. I will never forget just weeks after her passing the deep throated howl of pain that Chipper let out. He missed her as did we miss her. For the next four years we had Chipper and took him everywhere with us.

We took him to New York and Niagara Falls; we took him to Nashville Tennessee, and we took him to Williamsburg Virginia. He loved to travel with us. He had accommodations in our home and beach house. He loved to run on the sandy beach.

As I write this, I am dreading our 3:30 Vet visit, he is sick and not eating and when you are just 8 pounds every ounce matters. We know that he is closer to his death date than his birthdate. My husband is leaving work early so that we both are present at the Vet visit. This past weekend we cried, and we cried. Our sense is the end is near and we are crying for ourselves because we already know the huge void that Chipper will leave in our hearts.

He is our baby boy; I spend every single day with him. I always feel the “pull” of what it is like to have someone at home that is waiting for you and loves you unconditionally. During COVID he became my office mate and attended every ZOOM meeting. He is such great company and made us better “dog parents” than ever before. We called him “Buddy” “Little Man” “Chip” “8 Pounds of love” and “Chipper.”

I leave work and not sure of what I will find at home, is he going to be alive and active or knocking on deaths door. Happy to report he barks bounces out of his crate and eats some chicken and drinks some water before going outside to do his business.

So … we just left the Vet, she thinks it might be his kidneys, we had him x-rayed and no broken bones, he has lost .8 pounds. Now we wait for all the test results.

What we know for sure is that an average dog lifespan is 10 to 13 years, he is over 10. We have given him a good life and he has given us much joy. What more can we ask for? We love him so much and thank God for the gift of Chipper!

Update – Chipper died peacefully on Wednesday April 6, 2022. Our hearts are shattered but we are comforted in the belief that he is reunited with his sister Happy in heaven. Each death teaches us about our own mortality. We are doing our best to stay focused on all the joy, love, and happiness that he gave to us, RIP “Little Man” Chipper we love and miss you so very much! Our lives are so much richer from having you …

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