I stood inside an exam room at the Kodiak Veterinary Clinic, grasping Gizmo close to my heart, trying to keep him from seeing the tears trickling down my whiskery face.
I didn’t want to let him go — my little pigskin picking pooch. My best friend.
How did we get here? Our relationship started five years ago when we entered each other’s lives as complete strangers.
The lady human of the Clarkston Zoo met Gizmo first when she went dog shopping at the Kodiak Animal Shelter. Gizmo — a 2-year-old Japanese chin — and a chihuahua caught her eye. She reported to me her discovery. Living in a basement apartment, we passed on the bark-happy chihuahua and went with the chin — our landlord upstairs appreciated that decision
We thought we made the wrong decision when I first met Gizmo, a little, fluffy white guy who didn’t have a great upbringing — we were told he was found in a room alone with his silky fur all matted. The scared guy didn’t want anything to do with me, hiding behind lady human’s legs until I retreated to the car.
The lady human said it wasn’t too late to adopt the chihuahua instead of the chin. I don’t remember what was said after that, but I’m glad our minds were not swayed.
Back in the veterinary clinic, Gizmo’s mom sat in a wooden chair in the corner of exam room No. 1, clinching a tissue with her fingers while the vet talked. Our eyes didn’t leave Gizmo, but we listened our hearts sunk.
“We don’t feel comfortable letting you take Gizmo home,” she said with a soft tone that only meant one thing — it was time to say goodbye to our furry friend.
When Gizmo was diagnosed with a heart murmur two years ago, we knew our days with him were limited, we didn’t expect it to be so soon.
Gizmo’s condition deteriorated on Thursday when we noticed his labored breathing and frequent coughs. We took him to the vet — a month away from his yearly checkup — to get examined. Imaging revealed his organs swimming in liquid. He stayed at the vet to get the liquid drained and returned home with us that evening armed with two more medications to add to the four he was already taking.
Gizmo wagged his poofy tail and ate dinner, which gave us hope, but he was not his usual self. There was sadness in his big eyes that were once filled with excitement and happiness.
He slept on the end of our bed for the what turned out to be the final time and even snuggled with his older chin brother, Pepper Jack, who was adopted from the animal shelter in 2015.
Friday arrived, and Gizmo’s breathing worsened. Back to the vet, only this time we had a feeling that Gizmo would not be returning to the Clarkston Zoo. I took him on a farewell tour of the apartment, stopping next to cat Shadow, who he would constantly lick, and Pepper Jack.
Hours later, after being monitored by professionals, the vet carried Gizmo into the room. He was bundled in a blanket, zapped of energy. No tail wag. No lifting of the head. No movement.
The vet gave us time to say goodbye. At that moment, memories flashed before me as I petted behind Gizmo’s ear — the spot that made him melt.
There was the time he pulled chicken bones out of the garbage and ended up with greasy fur; the miles we logged picking up coins on our ventures through Kodiak; how he jumped on me when I got home; how he picked up sticks and dropped them at the front door of our apartment; and his sports picks.
Telling our adventures to you, the reader, was a treat. Gizmo was a local celebrity. People stopped us on walks and asked if that was Gizmo — even passing drivers yelled out car windows, “Gizzzmmmooo.”
I had dogs growing up, but they were outside critters. I don’t remember being attached to Molly the wiener dog like I was to Gizmo, whose quirky personality was unmatched — he didn’t like strangers, hid bones and growled when he didn’t want to be picked up.
Gizmo, with his old man, grumpy face, won me over from the beginning.
There I was getting one last look at the face that softened my heart. I crumbled when the vet sedated him. I held him as his body became limp, and his head collapsed softly on my shoulder. Minutes later, he was gone for good, joining my dad — whose battle with cancer ended last November — in heaven.
It didn’t feel right walking Pepper Jack the next morning, but we found $5.47 — a record this year. When I picked up the $5 bill, I raised it towards the sky and said, “Thanks, Gizmo.”
The picks must go on.
Gizmo produced a 2-3 record in his final picks. I also finished 2-3 and stand at 21-14 on the season.
I thought about having Pepper Jack finish the season, but instead will fly solo the rest of the way.
SEATTLE AT ATLANTA
Atlanta is a hot mess and could enter this game with backup Matt Schaub under center.
Schaub would be a welcome sight for Seattle’s defense after getting carved up by the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson.
Clarkston — Seahawks
CAROLINA AT SAN FRANCISCO
After playing in a rainstorm last week in Washington DC, the 49ers are happy to be back in San Francisco for this key NFC battle with the Panthers.
Carolina is coming off a bye and will be San Francisco’s toughest test of the season.
Clarkston — 49ers
GREEN BAY AT
Will Patrick Mahomes play a week after dislocating his kneecap? I’m guessing he won’t, but I wouldn’t rule the idea out.
If he plays, this is a different game. Right now, I’m siding with Aaron Rodgers, who was a rock star last week.
Clarkston — Packers
PHILADELPHIA AT BUFFALO
The Bills are 5-1. Let me repeat that. The BILLS are 5-1.
Clarkston — Bills
Last week, I relocated Oakland to Los Angeles (thanks to a reader for pointing that out) and they lost to Green Bay. This week, I will move the Raiders back to Oakland.
Clarkston — Raiders