A little hand knocked on the door and the absence of Annie’s bark made me sad.
I opened the door to find a white gi, a blue belt, a smiling boy and 2 egg sandwiches in his hands for the kids. Breakfast hadn’t happened yet and it was almost time for the 8 am class. How thoughtful of our student to bring us breakfast. He knew. The kids had been down the street at his house while mom helped us with the final details.
Everyone should be blessed to die among their family.
Arms hugging, lips kissing, slime received when cuddling in too close to the dog who just couldn’t get a breath in. She tried. Valiantly, she tried. There was no giving up, but when it was time she gave in.
She and I struggled to get those breaths in two days ago. She fought. I prayed. “Please God let her throat open so she can get a breath in.” Selfishly, “Please God don’t let her die with me here by myself. I can’t lift her on my own. I don’t want to do this on my own. I don’t want her to do this without the family.”
The Dad who rough houses with her. The girl who brings her to the lake. The boy who has never not known her and can be found just laying on top of her at any time. Me. Well, we have had our differences she and I.
She made me so angry when she would poop snack. That’s what I started calling it; it was gross. “Ew!”
It wasn’t so bad when I could just let the dogs out in the morning, but then they got it in their head that wandering around town was just a lovely way to start the day. So I had to go out with them, everyday. And we would fight everyday. Stubborn lab. Food reward dog. Didn’t listen when I tried to call her off the poop snack wagon.
If you were far away you would’ve thought I was cruel. Kicking her to get her off the spot. But I know how to kick. I know how to kick with my toes pointing down to make it a shove. Shoving her off with my shin, although there was some not nice language, appropriate for a female dog, and some volume as my disgust escalated.
The first day she couldn’t breathe, 2 months ago, all of my fury evaporated.
Laryngeal Paralysis the vet said.
She was just a dog being a dog.
A beautiful pure bred 18 month old Black Labrador, given to us just days after we bought the gym: doorbell, guard dog, ferocious fighter on a few occasions, and a fool for food.
Here’s a quick list of her thieving ways: First it was the missing sticks of butter, but oh her coat was shiny. Loaves of bread stayed a favorite. Pizza, 12 slices was her record (not the kiddie slice kind either) and nothing was ever safe on the counter in the kitchen. Once, an uncooked loaf of bread. A steak, a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, numerous instances of stolen Easter and Halloween candy. Homework, literally. Mail. Shoes. And many unknown items that were only given away by either her guilty look, or the other dog bolting out of the door. By the way chocolate was not a problem for her. Duct tape and gauze either, you don’t want to know. My personal favorite was the roasted chickens, once she managed to get the whole chicken but magically left the knife, which had been set in the middle of it, on the stove top.
I am sad. Sad but thankful.
Missing her presence in the kitchen. Absent is her “Hey, there is someone that I don’t know standing at the doorway” bark. And the “There is no one standing on the step but I thought I would bark to screw with you and hopefully get a treat for taking you away from the work you were doing” bark.
Thankful for 11 years.
Thankful for the best gift we have ever received. Thanks Sue.
Thankful that we all got to say goodbye, and the brave tears of a brother and a sister.
Thankful for the hugs and support of friends.
Thankful that a friend would show up at 7 in the morning to help us bury our friend. That she would dig with us and jump in the damn hole to gently lay her down. I wasn’t prepared for that. Or, the dirt hitting the plastic. Or … well you don’t need those images. And yet they are the actions you take to care for one that you have loved. Respect in life. Respect in death.
Most of all I am thankful for the change on my heart. The love that overpowered everything else; what smelly fur? what gross habits? She is just a dog being a dog. And the lesson that that change allowed me to see: judgment is a chosen behavior. I am forever grateful that LOVE replaced it.