Good Dog

A little more than five years ago, the Mister came home beaming.   “We found a dog today!” 
I’m ashamed to admit that I was reluctant to be a dog owner again.  Dogs break my heart.  But four sets of eyes looked at me pleadingly, and the next thing I knew I was standing in the careworn lobby of Animal Control.  We walked through the rows of kennels, and with each step I willed myself not to fall in love, to be kind but firm.  This was a dog for the children.  Finally, we stopped at the kennel of a staggeringly thin collie, and the attendant opened the door. The dog slowly walked out to the tiny yard, so that we could get acquainted.  She seemed reserved.  And kind of old.  And, of course, she had all the usual problems of a dog that’s been living on the street.    Again four sets of pleading eyes bore into me, and I agreed.  We put our name on the list and went home to wait the required 10 days.  She appeared to be a purebred collie, and I thought perhaps she might be claimed.christmas morning Joe and Louisa 038Ten days later, we got the call.  In a couple of days we could pick her up after the required vet visit.  She was in sad shape and clearly would need a lot of attention and love.  I--of the steely resolve to merely care for the dog but not fully love her--met briefly with the doctor who told me he wasn’t able to spay her as she was still producing milk.  “Poor thing’s lost a litter of pups somewhere.”  And, then, of course, all bets were off.
She was fed good food and gained 20 pounds in about a month.  I brushed her daily.  She was walked regularly.  She learned to play Frisbee, and what a sight to see her bounding across the green lawn.   Her manners were impeccable.  And wherever we went, which was a lot of places, people said, “Oh, what a beautiful dog.”   IMG_1084
I don’t know why, but she loved me best right from the start.  One of her most endearing traits to me was that no matter where she was sitting or who was petting her, when I came into the room, she would watch to see where I sat, then come to be at my feet. 
She began to decline last summer.  Increasingly, she struggled to get up and down.  Collies are a stoic breed, but the medicine no longer seemed to be enough.  She lost her appetite.  Several weeks ago, we noticed that her tail wasn’t wagging, and she barely took notice of our comings and goings, although she still made her way to my side each night.
She was terrified of thunderstorms, and in years past the Mister and I spent many summer nights calming her.  Only a few days ago, thunder shook the house, and she didn’t even wake.   A day or two later, the Mister made the call.
The Mister and Middle took Marian to the park this morning while it was still cool.  She was able to walk a little way before flopping down beneath a tree.  Our kind vet met them there and administered the injection.  The Mister said she didn’t even flinch.   IMG_3793
We buried her body on her favorite dog bed near the creek behind our house, which is where she loved to explore when she was still spry.  I loved looking down from the deck and seeing her white ruff amid all the green of the leaves and brush.  This fall, we’ll plant a dogwood tree there to remember her.IMG_1902
[She] possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.  
                      --John Cam Hobhouse
My dear old dog, most constant of all friends.
                    --William Croswell Doane
  For the soul of every living thing is in the hand of God.
                     --Job 12:10

Good dog, Marian.  Stay.

26 comments:

  1. I'm sorry for your loss. It's heartbreaking to lose our fur babies.

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  2. Such a beautiful blog. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of the love Marian was blessed to be a part of. There is no easy way to go through this, but I do think that the kindness and caring way your family allowed her to end this life is beautiful.

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  3. OH my. This post just broke my heart. I am sitting here in a crying mess. What a sweet dog and so lucky to have had your love. And what a blessing she was to y'all, too. So sorry for I know you are missing her. XOXO

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  4. My heart breaks, I fully understand. To be blessed by such an animal is a very special thing. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. Our pets, many, are all buried in the forest behind our barn. They all loved roaming there. May your dogwood tree flourish.

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  5. oh i am so sorry for you loss.....as i shed these tears as if she was mine......

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  6. I am so so sorry to hear this;what a lovely post. Yes, we had one dog for 13 years and I doubt will ever have another one. The end was SO terrible; for my husband even more than for me. It is devastating. I really feel for you, and the emptiness in your house and heart right now....

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  7. What a beautiful post. You have a gift.

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  8. Sending my love to you, the Mister, Big, Middle , and Little. Marian knew what it felt to be unconditionally loved.

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  9. I'm so sorry!
    What an honor it is to be loved by an old dog!
    Best thoughts,
    Francie

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  10. I write this comment with tears in my eyes. What a lovely, loving, and moving post you have graced us, your fortunate readers, with. It is beautifully written, indeed, and the subject is one dear to my heart. Thank you. Reggie

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  11. Oh it was hard to read this post. I knew where it as headed and I had to clutch my heart. So beautifully written. I bet you typed this with tears streaming down your face. i can tell you they are streaming down mine. I've loved and lost two dogs in my life and the pain is real. You sounded like you had a very special bond with Marian. Big hugs to all of you!! She was one of the lucky ones!!!

    xo,
    Tessa

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  12. Oh my... I am not an "animal person". Having a pet has never really interested me. However, stories like yours being on lots of tears for me. Yours is a beautiful account of the true love of a family (reluctant mom ;) and their precious pet. So sorry for your loss...

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  13. And... Thank you, sweet friend, for your prayers... The surgery is today at 1:00. Being a "Martha" - and not a "Mary" - all week, I have been consumed with all the tasks and logistics. Only today is it really emotionally hitting me.

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  14. I am sorry for your loss. Dogs have a much shorter lifespan than we do, but they pack so much love in that short time.

    Susan

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  15. Marian was a lucky dog to have found you all. I'm sorry for your loss.
    Gina

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  16. You love for sweet Marian radiates through your beautifully touching words. How fortunate you all were to have "found" one another.

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  17. I'm so sorry for your loss. We lost both of our old girls last summer. It's hard.

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  18. Oh the pain you are feeling. I am sorry you lost such a special friend. I think you will see Marian again in Heaven.

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  19. I recommend to you in this sad hour Cynthia Rylant's most excellent "Dog Heaven." Rylant's simple text and child-like illustrations will reassure you that Marian is now whole and happy and that she waits for you. Angel dog.

    Best wishes (and a few tears)!

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  20. I had a very similar experience, being adopted by the most wonderful dog, very smart, well-behaved, and loving. She was a mixed breed with the thickest hair imaginable. She, too, was disturbed by thunder and lightning. I just recently learned that furry dogs experience a static charge that can be alleviated by rubbing a dryer sheet on the back of the dog's neck where it cannot be licked. I would pet my dog which seemed to help, but I hope your readers will ask their veterinarian if their pet has this issue.

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  21. She sounds like the best dog in the world. she must have really enjoyed your nice loving family of five. I hope she is feeling your love in heaven right now!

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  22. This is so poignant. I will be heartbroken when I lose Miss Belle. Our pets mean so much to us!! Love and Hugs! She was a beautiful dog!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  23. Hello - a beautiful tribute to your Marian's dear, sweet life...

    My heart aches for you --- you did well by her---she was blessed to have shared her life with all of you...

    Prayers for your heart-

    Linda

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  24. I am so sorry for you loss. It's so hard with furbabies. They give so much and ask so little.

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  25. I am so sorry for you, and your families loss. Your are so right, dogs can break your heart! But, they offer so much love also. Sophie and I send all of you a huge hug.

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  26. Just found your blog today, and love it. And, I hope to read soon you have another dog to love. They break our hearts every time we have to say goodbye...but how richer our lives are for the time they are with us.

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