About a million years ago, I walked into the shelter, looking for a chocolate Lab. We had seen Chet on their website, and thought, well…it’s time. Actually, my thoughts were to get dogs to save my failing, faltering marriage. This is not a good plan, by the way. He left the following February.
We saw Chet jumping, and I told the boys, just let me go look around. I saw Princess in the back of her kennel. I asked the girl to let me see this dog. She opened the gate, and Princess walked over to me, and immediately sat at my feet. Her eyes begged “Rescue Me”, and she was so sweet and docile, and well…she loved me. We heard that she had come to the shelter pregnant, and all puppies were euthanized. The last family that had her had a lot of noisy children, and Princess hid behind their couch, so the family brought her back, and in bringing her back, gave me the biggest gift of all.
This picture is the first night we brought her home in the Spring of 2006. As I sit here typing, I remember that first night. She didn’t come in, but sat outside my bedroom door with her head up looking around the yard. Every time I woke, there she was, surveying her new surroundings.She sat there a lot.
We soon realized that the pink ribbon wasn’t really her. In fact, she quickly became the dominant dog, and I pictured her name being Ginger or something. Cigar in paw, glass of wine, ordering people around.
She has neuroses. The first Fourth of July, I left the dogs home, and when I had come home, the screens were off of my window, and she had taken down my glass to get herself into the house. She hated wind and weather, climbing into the smallest space by my desk. She has chewed off door jambs, gotten out of the tiniest places, and literally has been in jail at least 8 times. There was time I tried to set up one of those electric fence thingys and just as I was teaching her this, she looked at me with the collar on, and jumped right over the fence. That was a short lived experiment, but I was desperate. In any case, this $35 shelter dog cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000. At least. Even after she is gone, I’m still paying the umpteenth ticket on time.
The last few years, the Police would call my cell, and say…We have Princess. Who can come and get her. She simply needed to run free. Her issues were fireworks, loud noises and cameras. I have had the iPhone text on silent for so long, because she simply would leave the room in a panic. This is a dog who did not respond well when the ex husband and I argued. Still today, loud voices scared her. Reluctantly at times, I would get in my car and drive down to the shelter to get her AGAIN. I would be mad at her. Frustrated. Get her in the car, to the vet, to the dog groomer. Again and again. I stopped trusting that she would stay. I accepted she was a runner.
Last month, she was diagnosed with an ugly rectal cancer that was starting to invade her pelvis. Our doctor told us she had about a month. Well, today it was a month. The boys told me she couldn’t poop on the walks, and I had been watching her daily. She still barked at the mailman, the pool man, anyone who came to my door. Today, she was barking like crazy at someone…This dog howled at fire trucks and in the end, could barely get out a weak growl.
But. We didn’t want her to suffer. The tumor was getting bigger, and I knew it was only a matter of time. The boys and I discussed it last night, and decided that today was the day. We were to take her to the vet and assess the tumor. The vet said it was a matter of time, that there was the alternative of stool softeners, etc. However, I knew my children, my lovely young men who had spent hours walking these dogs, could not take more of saying goodbye. We had decided as a family that this was the right thing to do. That we simply did not want her to hurt. Not one more day. The inevitable was here.
She was not happy. Agitated. I laid on her blanket. The one where she would take her last breath. We were all petting her and telling her we loved her. The shot was quick. Her eyes simply closed. We kissed and hugged her and told her we loved her…again and again. I can’t tell you that that 10 seconds was quick. It was forever and fast at the same time.
And then she was gone.
In the last days, she let Chet lay with her, and this was unheard of. He walked around and around, and laid under the table all day…he knew. He comes by my chair all day today, after she left…his buddy gone.
We talked a lot today how we rescued her from the shelter. But it was the other way around. She would go put her head on the boys’ beds and give them comfort when I had no more words for what was happening to their world. She would lay by my feet while I cried buckets of tears. She loved her morning walks, and sat by the window precisely at 3:15pm when the bus would deliver her charges from school. In the morning, she would help me go from door to door getting up the sleepy teenagers, but at night. At night, she was on her spot right by my bed.
We knew she needed to run away. Perhaps she needed to know that we would never take her back to the shelter…maybe she tested the waters to see if I would come back for her. And I always did. Because that’s how I love.
She saved me. And I will miss her for a long time.