Thursday, August 10, 2006

Good bye, old puppy

A number of years ago, back when we lived in the city, we had to say goodbye to Tina, a shepherd-husky mix who was calm and gentle -- a hard act to follow.

At the time, I didn't think that another dog would be a good idea. We didn't have much yard, and I didn't want our young boys to have to dodge the inevitable land mines that dogs tend to leave.

But Mary has always had a dog, and she missed having a canine companion.

You may have gathered by now that I'm not one to tell Mary that she can't have something that she wants. She's a big girl now, and can make her own decisions. So, I told her that if she really wanted a dog, she should go ahead and get one.

The very next day, when I returned from work, Lucy was sitting in our living room. (Nobody can accuse Mary of being indecisive when it comes to matters of the heart).

Lucy had been a stray that eventually ended up in the shelter. They told Mary that she is a runner, so she needs to be careful about letting her out without being on a leash. They were wrong, though. She has never run away. In fact, she has been a free range dog ever since moving to my parents' cottage, and finally out here to our little ten acre parcel. She always stayed home, seeming to know where her boundaries were.

Also, my fears about land mines were unfounded. She used to always do her duties in that tiny fenced in area that is described on our old deed as "half of the closed alley". Even out here in the country, she always headed to the woods relieve herself.

She was in her glory when we were at the cottage. Many times, I would see her swimming after me when I took my daily stroll around the lake in the canoe. She spent many hours chasing and eating frogs, and many more hours in the back of the paddle boat.

Over here on our hobby farm, she settled in as the local lay-around dog who kind of hung out, climbed into the duck's pool, laid in the mud, and generally enjoyed life as a free-range farm dog. The only time she left the area was when she was following one of us.

So, she was not a runner. She did have her issues, though. She was afraid of me at first. If I was angry, she would cower and run away. She would run if I tried to pet her with my foot. She eventually learned that I wasn't going to kick her, but it took a while.

Apparently, she ran away from her previous home because the man of the house used to kick and abuse her. She had some adjusting to do when she moved in with us. The kids may play rough, as boys will, but nobody ever abused her. Fortunately, she was smart enough to know the difference between being kicked and being tripped over. It's really easy to trip over a black dog in the middle of the night.

But she had her wild side, too. Sometimes, out of the blue, she would get this gleam in her eyes and run half a dozen or so steps toward a chicken just to watch it squawk and run off flapping. She used to have staring matches with the cats. Eventually, the cat would bolt for the tree and she would follow.

She decided to chase some guineas one day, and they flew up a tree and cussed her out. You have never been properly cussed out until you have been cussed out by a cacophony of guineas. (Geese have gaggles, lions have prides, and guineas have cacophonies.)

But she has been slowing down this past year. She got a couple of those big fatty tumors that old dogs will often get. We found out that they are generally not deadly unless they open up and get infected, but we knew that her days were numbered.

She had a good life up to the end. She never seemed to be in pain -- just kind of tired. She would eat her food well enough, if with less gusto than before. She liked to sit and get petted, and would follow us around on occasion.

She was fine yesterday, but went over the rainbow bridge some time last night or early today. When Don went to feed her this afternoon, she was in her usual place under the porch. There was no sign of a struggle. We had to look closely to make sure that she had passed because she looked just like she always did when sleeping under the porch.


Anonymous Wendy from Blessings said...

Well Ray I haven't read your blog in quite awhile so I have taken Sunday as a day of rest as God intended and just enjoyed catching up on your blog.
I was especially touched by this entry. We had to have our faithful little Maggie put down three years ago, the vet thinks that she had been poisoned. We got her from a no kill pound, she was a drop off dog that someone found cowering in a rain storm along a country road. We think that she had been abused and as you said with your dog, it took her a while to learn to trust again. Maggie was with us for 13 years. She was a black border collie spaniel mix.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous denise t said...

oh i am sorry about your sweet girl...and i admire your understanding about the death of your pets, and your produce animals. you seem like a really kind hearted, understanding, and responsible owner...

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray, this has me in tears, hope all are healing and able to remember her as a happy pup.
great that she got to learn to trust and be loved.
nice to read you again after so long.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Nerd in the Country said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.

Yes, we are going to miss our water puppy. Even Sam, out other dog, was depressed for a couple days. We are trying to decide if we should get another dog (there are a couple on freecycle), or just let Sam be our only dog. I don't know if Sam wants another doggy companion or not.

I would really like to get a livestock guard dog that will bond with our other animals and kick the tails of those coyotes that keep skulking around. The trouble is, livestock guard dogs like to wander. They were, after all, bred for the open range.

9:56 PM  

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