Sunday, September 28, 2008

Goodbye, Lady

My parents had to put my childhood dog, Lady, to sleep on Friday. She was sixteen. Lady was the greatest dog. She was a border collie mix and had the thickest, softest fur around her neck. It reminded me of a mane. I would always lay on the floor with her and bury my face in her neck. She loved it. I loved it. My second favorite thing about her was the way the top of her head smelled. I don't know if it was her natural scent or if it was fragrant from everyone touching her, but it always smelled clean and sweet. It was a mystery to me for sixteen years.

A couple months after we got her my parents had a chain-link fence put up around the backyard so we could let her out without a leash. It cost my parents nearly $1000 and her first time out untethered in the yard, she ran right up to the fence, took one head-tilted glance at it, and hooked her paws into the links and climbed right over. It was at once the funniest and most disappointing moment for my parents. She was too smart for her own good sometimes. My mom has a little banner with a bell on the end of it that hangs in the dining room next to the back door. She somehow taught herself to ring the bell when she wanted to go outside. It was sort of the opposite of Pavlov's dogs. She would ring the bell, we would respond.

She would sleep in my parents' shower when it was hot out.

She would play catch until her tongue hung to the ground.

She liked to bury her face in the snow and run around in circles.

She liked to sleep outside on a picnic table in the sun.

The last couple of years really aged her. She slept more, went deaf, didn't play anymore. She was just old. Then, a couple months ago her immune system wore down. Mom and dad took her to the vet every couple of weeks, got her medicine, had tests run. Last week was the beginning of the end. She stopped eating and drinking, wouldn't get up to go outside. My dad sat on the floor and fed her water with a dropper. On Tuesday they took her to the vet and he hooked her up to an IV to see if re-hydrating her would help. But it didn't. On Friday my father, true to form and a testament to his love and compassion, went to the vet and held her as she was put to sleep. He said that he honestly hoped she would have died at home. Just stopped breathing one day. That's the way every dog deserves to die. With their family. At home. It doesn't always work out that way though. Sometimes the most humane decisions are also the hardest ones.

I love you, Lady.

2 comments:

Col said...

I teared up when I read this.I'm so sorry for your loss. Lady was such a great pup! I hope she finds my Lady up in Dog Heaven so they can play together. Give your parents a hug for me!

kelly said...

Oh. I'm just catching up with blogs and I saw this. I'm so sorry to read about Lady, but I love your tribute to her. It sounds like she had a very good life.