Friday, January 2, 2009

Ten wonderful years

Ten years ago I made a deal with my husband. If he got a sports car I could get a dog. Oh my gosh, he went to Texas looking for a car, and New York, and he flew all over (stand-by) looking for just the right sports car. I finally decided that what I should do was to just go get the dog so he could pick a car and stop driving me crazy.

The local humane society had lots of dogs. There were a pair of German Shorthair Pointers, like the one I grew up with. They were very sweet. There was an old golden retriever, but it was a little too old. Way in the back of the kennels there was a black dog. She was sprawled on her side, asleep. Everyone else was barking, barking, barking away. She lifted her head off the cement floor, glanced at us, and went right back to sleep.


The door of her cage had her picture posted with her name and a little note written about her by the volunteers who walked the dogs. They said she was a really sweet dog who just needed a chance.

So we took her home.

After three days she must have decided that she belonged to us and we were her family because she started barking at everyone who walked within two blocks of our house. But by then we were madly in love with her.

My husband found a gorgeous Nissan 350z with T-tops. It was a pretty sweet deal. I got a fabulous dog and he got a shiny red sports car.

Ten years ago my children were little, only seven, four and two. We had just moved into a new house. I missed all my old neighbors. I wanted another grown-up in the house during the long days. And she was the nicest ladylike dog who always was very proper and fine. Well, except when she thought maybe someone was after her family, you know, like walking on the sidewalk or delivering the mail. Then she went wild. But I clearly had another grown-up in the house.

If we accidentally left her in the back yard while we were out front she would leap our five foot fence just to be near us. Her border collie nature made her frantic if we didn't walk together in a little herd. She'd run from the stragglers to the leaders, trying to keep us together. We were her family.

When she came to us she was already showing signs of aging. In the last few years she started slowing down, running less, playing less. She started to have trouble walking. She didn't see as well, and only heard really loud things. Eventually she stopped barking. She fell down the stairs, and sat down when she didn't mean to. Life got hard. And we still loved her tons. I got up in the night two, sometimes three times to let her out. We used our carpet cleaner a lot more often. We bribed her to eat by mixing her food with butter, cheese and turkey. We loved her so much, that eventually it became clear that it was time.

Yesterday we bathed her, so she'd be fluffy and shiny. And we cleared this afternoon of plans. The day was sunny and bright. I called the vet early today and made an appointment for the last spot of the day. And we tried to give her a really fine and wonderful day.

She was the best dog. I feel so lucky to have had ten years with her. I will look for her everywhere in my house for weeks, and I will remember her every day of my life.


ms. kitty said...

Hi, Kari, I'm so sorry about the death of your sweet dog friend. I know we have to do it for them, but it's never easy and they leave such a big hole in our lives.

Thinking about you and your family.

Anna Banana said...

When my dog's time comes, I want to do just what you did. It's the loving thing to do. Yeah, but it's hard.

Kristina said...

Oh....Kari. I hope that you feel great peace in your goodbye, even though it's clearly not what you wanted. You granted your ladylike friend a wonderful life, and a dignified death, and that is such a gift. My thoughts are flying to you tonight as you mourn her.

Anonymous said...

My beloved best friend Beardsley died in November at age 17. We had a year similar to you with lots of paper towel use, carpet cleaner, falling, a slow but steady drifting away. I miss that old man, the touch stone of my days more then I can admit to most. I know exactly how you feel during this fist month without her. Thank for the post and the pretty pictures with her gray little face.
Love, Julie