To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~Milan Kundera
Years ago I sat at the kitchen table and made the phone call, then I drove out to their house. Once I was in the den area, they let them out. All these little furry puppies, running, yapping and falling all over each other! Most of them were solid white with a bit of black and a few were white and brown. But one in particular came scampering to me. She was just a tiny ball of hair. The only one with solid black hair with a tiny patch of white on her chest. I scooped her up and smelled her precious puppy breath. I knew. She was the one. As I drove home she slept curled up in my lap, just a little bit larger than a grapefruit. No one knew I was getting her. She was a surprise. A little-bundle-of-joy surprise.
I remember driving to church to pick up my girls who were returning from a camp. I held her out the window and all the girls in the church parking lot squealed with delight. We named her Abigail…..Abby for short.
Abby had been dressed in ribbons, dresses, underwear, bandanas, Santa hats, elf hats, etc. and accepted each thing done to her with grace and dignity.
Abby loved the water and the snow. We use to fill an old plastic sled to give Abby her own private pool. Oh how she love it. Her long shaggy hair dripping wet and falling over her eyes. We even took her to the beach once. I’m sure she felt like she was in doggy-Disneyworld. During the last few years, when it snowed Abby would turn from an “old lady-dog” into a little puppy again!
Like most doggies, Abby had her little quirks. For some odd reason she didn’t like floor vents. You could place a ball or treat over the vent and she would stretch as far as she could, but then bark and bark until you would get the item for her. Whenever she was out of water she would sometimes go into the bathroom and stand in front of the shower or toilet or she would just stand in front of the kitchen sink and “gruff” until her water bowl was filled. Abby also loved paper. She didn’t tear it up like most dogs. She would just sit or lie on it. Often times, the girls would be doing their homework on the floor and Abby would mosey over, find a piece of paper they had strewn about, turn around 3 times and lie down. It didn’t have to be a big piece either. She wasn’t picky, she just wanted any piece of paper under her body. When she was hot she preferred the cool floor against her soft belly.
Abby loved to “go bye-bye” and cherished each opportunity she had to ride in the car. To really get her going we could say, “Where’s the squirrel?” Oh she would bark and bark and jump around wildly at the thought of chasing a squirrel. Another favorite was getting her hair blown dry. She would just sit of lay on the floor in from of that warm blowing air.
We always said she understood every word we said. If she did something she wasn’t suppose to, she couldn’t hide her guilt. All I had to do was look at her and say, “Abby?” She would tuck her tail, hang her head and walk away. If she wasn’t guilty, she just looked at you with those big, brown eyes.
Through her years Abby tolerated the introduction of 2 cats, several parakeets, a hamster or two and finally a 3-legged dog into the family. Then three years ago a tiny human being would occasionally come to the house. That tiny being was Cupcake. At first Cupcake cried, then she started crawling. Abby stayed clear – except when Cupcake was eating. Little kids mean little crumbs. Oh boy! After Cupcake learned to walk, Abby accepted the gently petting and would even allow Cupcake to reach into her dog food bowl to feed her by hand. Now that was acceptance! Abby was very protective of her food, but Cupcake was allowed without any grumpiness. Other than regular dog food, her favorite meal was rice. Any kind. That made her a happy doggie!
Over time Abby would occasionally play and wrestle with Skipper, the 3-legged dog, but she really wasn’t one to chase the kitties. She and Skipper had a nice relationship. They weren’t snuggle buddies, but anytime Skipper cried out, Abby was the first one there checking on her dog-friend.
Abby didn’t have any particular health problems. She developed cataracts and a little hearing loss. I suspect she may have had some arthritis. During cold weather she wasn’t fond of going up and down the stairs. Over the past few months we noticed that she may have had a few episodes of dementia. We now think it may have been was is referred to as mini-strokes.
The Tuesday before Christmas, Cupcake was visiting. Abby was exceptional spry that day and soaked up some extra loving from Cupcake. On Wednesday, December 22nd my parents were traveling through and wanted to have lunch. Before lunch, I headed out to the grocery store. I decided to put the doggies in the laundry room, which I usually don’t do if The Captain is home. Since he was still sleeping, I figured putting them up would keep them quiet when I returned home. After returning home I noticed that Abby didn’t come out to the fence to greet me with her loud barking. Skipper was also whining, which he never does. I checked on the doggies and noticed Abby was not well. She appeared to have had a seizure. After assessing her I knew. I knew it was time.
I made her comfortable until I could return after lunch. I told my parents and both daughters. While my oldest and I shed tears, The Captain told Cupcake. My oldest (Cupcake’s mama) had a great discussion with her about doggie heaven while they headed home. Thank you, my daughter for handling that. You said all the right words. Cupcake understands in her own little 3 year old way.
The Captain and I returned to our house and I wrapped Abby up and made the trip. Alone. I brought her home alone and I knew I needed to take her away alone. The folks as the veterinary office were great. Abby’s usual groomer saw us and started to cry as she walked away. She loved Abby too.
I’m thankful that Abby didn’t suffer. The day before she died was a great day and she was her usual puppy self. I’m thankful Abby was able to share her last day with Cupcake and get some extra loving.
I miss her welcoming bark whenever anyone enters the house. I don’t know when the water bowl is empty because she isn’t here to gruff at me. I miss seeing her lay beside me on the floor while I am at the computer. I miss her looking for, then finding, me in the house. I miss her sweet doggie kisses. I miss her big brown eyes and rubbing her soft belly. I missed her when the snow fell this week. I missed her when the sun finally came out and shone on the floor. She wasn’t here to soak it up.
Your favorite spot is vacant now...
No eager barks to greet me.
No softly padded paws to run
Ecstatically to meet me.
No coaxing rubs, no plaintive cry
Will say it's time for feeding.
I've put away your bowl, and all
The things you won't be needing;
But I will miss you little friend,
For I could never measure
The happiness you brought me,
The comfort and the pleasure.
And since God put you here to share
In earthly joy and sorrow;
I'm sure there'll be a place for you
In Heaven's bright tomorrow...
A poem by Alice E. Chase
Thank you my sweet Abby. I miss you and I will always remember you.