Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Honey Brown

I look back, and realize my last post was a happy one, about celebrating five years with Abby in our family. Yesterday, I had to let my dearheart Abby go. As all estimates go, she was a grand dame of about 11 or 12 years old, and we decided to let her go after a particularly debilitating kidney fail. My heart is broken, and I am doing my best to remember all the many happy Abby moments, but it's still early, and I still feel very sad, and I am very much missing her with my whole self. I find peace in knowing that she is no longer suffering, and that she didn't suffer for long. Even last tuesday, she was her happy, shiny self, just beaming as she ran between Don and I, while we were going over some of her basic commands. Over the weekend, despite no eating or drinking anything (except the pedialyte I administered every 45 minutes or so, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup at a time) she decided she'd take a swim. This was sunday, and she had not been moving around much. She got a very clear look in her eye, and struggled to get up, and proceeded to go outside, slowly. After using the lawn a couple of times, she (slowly) made her way to the steps of the pool. I thought to myself, "she's going to drink!" Instead, she proceeded to move down into the water, step by step, testing the water with her the toes on her front left paw, as she always did. Then, she swam. Just bobbed along, swimming for not one, but TWO laps! She got back to the steps, and dragged herself up, step by step, pausing for a long time on the last step. We put a towel down for her right there, and she lay down, resting after what must have been a herculean effort on such little nourishment. Of the three labs, Abby always enjoyed swimming most. Sure, the other two will swim, but they have to be on a mission, to retrieve something, and there must be an audience, and it must be a competition, and there is always lots of running and wild splashing involved. Whereas Abby would delight in any chance to get into the water, and swim calmly around, usually drinking as she swam. On this last swim, she did not drink, just swam slowly, steadily, in two little loops. I remember the first time I saw her swim, it was up at Algonquin park, and we had to coax her into the water. That was early in her days with us, and I'm sure she hadn't really come to trust us yet, so the two of us trying to get her into the water must have been a puzzling thing to her. But we got her in the water, up at Rock Lake, and she started to swim. And she swam. And continued swimming, in a straight line out from the beach, headed to the middle of the lake! I was mortified, "we'll lose her, " I worried. We were calling to her, and preparing to jump in and swim after her, as her head was becoming a smaller and smaller brown shape all the time, when she simply turned and came back to us. As you can imagine, we were much relieved. Abby did grow to trust us, it seemed it happened in the days and weeks shortly after that trip, and since then, I am lucky enough to say that I've been the recipient of much of her adoration. We really seemed to click, Abby and I. I remember spending much time over the last five years simply gazing into those peaceful, loving brown eyes, and they stared deep into my own eyes. When Abby came to us, she was simply a shell of the dog she was to become. Poor skinny thing was frightened, unsure of herself, and altogether just not really healthy. I remember working with her to help build up her stamina, so she could join us on our long hikes that we'd always done with Ender. She thrived, and she became healthy and strong, and her coat grew in beautifully. Most of all, she once she learned that we were her forever home, she transformed from this anxious creature who held her ears low and always had a question on her face, into a gorgeous, loving and much loved dear friend. My friend Sandra refers to her as "The Grande Dame," which suits her perfectly. Abby loved our boat, which we only got last fall, so sadly she didn't have much time with it. I believe she must have known boats in her past, because any time she's been on a boat, she was perfectly comfortable, and quite elegant. She'd arch her neck, and raise her nose up into the air to catch the passing breeze, while lying calmly on the deck of the boat. As Abby was the calmest of the labs on the boat, and really just seemed to relax and enjoy herself (while the other two tend to be a bit rowdy and expect to be able to flail themselves overboard when the mood strikes them) we are planning on naming our boat, using one of the many "pet" names we had for Abby. The boat will be christened the "Aberdeen" at some point this summer. I am at a strange point in my life. On the one hand, I have a great adventure lying ahead of me, a move across the country. This is a bittersweet opportunity, as I will have to leave my family and friends here in Ontario in order to do it. I didn't much believe that my dear Lucy would live to make the trip, but I really was not ready to lose Abby before the trip. I had visited a lake there in April, and I really could not wait to introduce Abby to it. I had visions of Abby doing some slow and steady loops just off the stony beaches in Lake Okanagen. I will be writing more of my memories of Abby, and also of my Sweet Lucy, who passed away April 11 of this year. I admit after losing my two shadows, I am feeling quite lost in this world, and I need a little bit of time to process all this. But I owe it to them to record the happiness we shared. So check back later for more happy memories. In the meantime, give all of your animals a snuggle, and rejoice in the time you share with them, however brief. A lullabye for my Abby: This is the song I sang to her as she passed in my arms. I'm not sure why, it doesn't really have a special meaning, but Abby had a special appreciation for twangy ballads, as I do.

1 comment:

Scott Green said...

My condolences, S! It's a very personal loss.

We lost three dogs in our extended family earlier this year; my in-laws poodle Chelsea, and my brother's Doberman King and dumb-as-a-post Bouvier Cole all had to be "put down" for various health issues.

The holes are still felt whenever we get together. There is that moment when you start to call out their names and realize that they just aren't there anymore. Your heart breaks a little more each time.

Remember her idiosyncrasies, as they are what makes a dog!