A Fare-Thee-Well

Standard

Yesterday evening I had to say good-bye to my 11 1/2 year-old Pyr, Faith.

faithfulShe helped more than a few dogs in her day, whether in transport or foster. Though she was the least likely to play of any of my dogs, it was to her that one special Berner boy made his first play bow, when we didn’t know at first whether we would ever be able to draw him out of his shell of fear.

Faith came to me from the local shelter, intended as a companion for my BARC Beauty Sophia. They quickly became fast friends, and they made sure that all other dogs coming to their house knew the rules. She was true to her breed, keeping me and our property safe from all manner of trucks, buses, birds and planes. We NEVER had a plane land in our driveway!

Age and years of property management caught up with her, she spent the past few years on monthly Adaquon shots and Salmon oil seemed to ease some of her cognitive issues, but a recent infection recurred and may have had an impact on her liver and gall bladder. X-rays indicated that her hips and knees were failing, making the option for gall bladder surgery more problematic.

She refused to tell me that it was time for her to go. To the end, she was trying to protect me at her own expense. But I told her that I would do what was right for her, and I know that was what I did.

Three of my dogs are fine, but my ASD/Pyr mix, who was her closest companion after we lost Sophia, is taking it hard. But I know he will help me keep my promise to Faith tonight that I would be fine. He’s sneakiy that way, making sure that I don’t have time to wallow. He will keep me grounded, Berner Hagar will keep me laughing and Duffy and Domino will make sure that I PAY ATTENTION!!!

Run and spin with abandon, dear Faith. You were greatly loved all eleven years I got to share with you, and I will carry you in my heart until we meet again.

States of Being

Standard

Sometimes it seems that my dogs are not five separate organisms, but parts of one whole. When something is off balance with one part, the whole organism shifts.

I have been surprised the past couple of days, while my sweet Pyr is being treated at the vet’s office, by the behavior of my other dogs. Usually, if I get home later than normal, I am greeted with great enthusiasm and vocalization. I can feel the whole house bouncing and vibrating. But not this week.

This week, the dogs have made perfucntory barks and little else. They have made their way to the door and outside with fair haste, but not with the same drive. They know Faith is ill, they know their world is out of balance.

Image

I don’t know whether this time balance can be restored.

I know that with or without Faith, we will go on. We will find a new balance.

I wonder how long it will take for us to find enthusiasm and joy in that new balance.

If she comes through this illness, she will be a far more elderly, frail dog than she would ever have expected to be. Her dignity will be important to all of us. She will have to supervise someone else keeping the yard safe from buses, birds and planes.

Life changes. Organisms have an ebb and flow.

I feel so lucky to live within the aura of this organism.

With gratitude

Standard

Watching a dog age gives us a sped-up version of watching people age – although dogs seem to accomplish it with far more grace.

My Pyr is now 11 years old. Her arthritis slows her down, she seems to have less sense of where her back feet are, her hair is thinning even as we carom toward winter. I have, at times, worried about her hearing and vision, yet she can spot a sparrow at 300 yards and hear a bus a half-mile away.  I should probably take it personally when she ignores me, but I won’t.

She has been with me ten and a half of her 11 years.  Found as a stray in a neighboring town, transferred when that town ran out of space. The local shelter know I was looking for another big dog and called me. I shouldn’t even have been home, but I was. The other families interested in her should have jumped at the opportunity, but they didn’t.

So she joined me and Sophia and watched over us both, disciplining new dogs as they arrived, teaching the fosters to be strong, the home dogs to be patient and true. She has long kept my property safe from all manner of trucks, busses, birds and planes. She warns away coyotes in the middle of the night, but she also knows that she is off duty the moment she enters her crate. She can relax and let someone else worry about keeping us all safe.

I hope she will be with me years more, but I don’t know whether that’s realistic. At very least, I want her to enjoy at least one more snow, bouncing like a puppy in the magical froth on the land. Snowfall has always filled her with joy and wonder. The other dogs may play in the snow, she becomes one with the snow. Almost literally. There have been times I have discovered a half-inch of ice and sleet buried in her undercoat, beneath the guard hair. She thought it was great until it started melting.

Whatever time I have left with her is a gift. I cherish our time together, worrying that she has come to need me more this past year after a decade of being fiercely independent, but grateful that she is with me each day. I know I can’t keep her forever, so I will make the most of the time that we have.

And I refuse to grieve too soon. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Today there are trucks that she must tell to keep moving on by, nothing for them here, just move along.

Each day is a treasure. My dogs know that, they have done a pretty good job of teaching me, too.