As in, “even gruff Papa now feels heartbreaking grief that the twelve year old family dog has died.”
Not one but, two handwritten signs are now tacked up on large sycamore trees within a tenth of a mile of each other. I first saw the labs for sale signs on a lonesome country road towards the town of Julian, California. Labrador retriever puppies – for sale and available now. Something about small babies and puppies, both are always adorable to me.
While I drove I quickly pointed out the first sign. Wanna stop! No response. The Logistician (wife) didn’t appear to be too interested as her head doesn’t swivel out and marvel at the amazing Southern California landscape as I do- while driving. A while ago I gave her that trail name. Soon she would drop me miles from this location near the Mexican border so that I could start my thru hike of the Pacific crest trail.
Earlier in the day we visited and explored the Anza Borrego desert. I was getting a feel for the lay of the land. This is the land that Lucy was born into – Indian and cowboy country. The Butterfield stage coach ran through here many years ago.
And no, we didn’t stop to look at puppies that day. By the time I got her attention we were way past the handwritten signs.
It was weeks later when our son and daughter in law visited. Mike, Lisa and Patti tricked me into traveling on the same road, after a visit to a San Diego brewery with now, the promise of Julian apple pie.
Their real intentions were hidden to me. The Logistician in her calculations and time had come to the conclusion that YES we now needed that pup – a chocolate colored female one. Meanwhile from the right side of the car’s window all three scanned the country side for handwritten lab puppies for sale signs. Suddenly Mike spots a sign; I quickly reacted and drove across a hand built bridge onto a farm with a horse corral and a painted pony galloping about.
Sadly, they’ve all been sold we were immediately told. But wait, the woman said, there’s a woman arriving soon that is returning one of the puppies- a chocolate lab. But why, my mind now pondered?
It turns out that the woman saw the same sign I originally did. In war, a perfect plan doesn’t matter, if it’s written too late however, simplicity and luck has a way of working itself into any equation.
The woman drove right across the same bridge we just did. The brown female pup stood out amongst the black ones to her. So, she ever confident and happy picks the runt of the litter and immediately names her Gwennivere.
Unfortunately for her but, not for us; when Gwennivere calmly arrived home; to her new apartment home, the pup thought that her small pug dog was a chew toy for her to play with. And when the former pup lover returns to work after that eventful weekend she finds that pup had affectionately left tinny tiny teeth marks all throughout her home. Her home now resembles a termite invasion. That was the last straw for Gwennivere the farm puppy. She was being brought back to the farm with a vengeance – even if she would lose the $400 she paid for Gwennivere. I think she got off cheap as pup has already caused nearly ten times her purchase price in property damage. And soon she would become ours! Oh my.
Recalling the words of G. Carlin, the Comedian. “…….to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever”. (And today that includes the family pet)
Lucy was not a religious dog but, she was in her own way a very spiritual dog. For most of her pup and adolescent life she lived with us in a tiny home at the Pt Fermin end of San Pedro, And weekly like clockwork, she would look up and stare at the sky. As if in prayer or meditation.
Soon, the superior being would arrive in the form of the Goodyear blimp. It’s motors would only be audible to her. It took a while for her nemesis to show, the behemoth would then fly around our place taunting her, every airborne minute while Lucy prayed and prayed for we thinks- world peace.
To us it sounded more like howling at the sky. Lucy also believed that one could be something other than just a blimp worshipper and still be part of the Kingdom of God.” In the kingdom of god she will now find those adorable puppies-and dogs that have been with me since I was a child. Max my german shepherd was my old time favorite. Then there’s Jessie and I now forget. Lucy overshadows the rest.
Good grief, now it all makes perfect sense. Our goal in life should always try to be the person that our dog already thinks we are. Now you and I know that this is an impossible task as we can’t go back in time.
Friedman said, “Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him/her wag a tail.” Our beloved pup passed away this Saturday, September 4, 2021. That loss now feels as bad—or even worse—than the loss of a human friend, or even a relative.
So what does losing a dog now mean to this family? It means that there will be no morning “ruff” bark reminding us to get out of bed, at her time of choosing between 0 dark thirty and sun up. It means that when she does the wacka wacka (shaking her ears from side to side) you need to pay attention and feed her. And when she comes and stares you in the face you need to move because it’s time for her walk – twice daily. And when it’s night time and she is ready for her after dinner treat, she will do everything but talk to get your attention.
It also means no more expensive twice daily diabetic shots, for the past two years administered by the most carrying and “Mary Ann’s” that I know.
Patti can often be described as a perky, nice, upbeat, and extremely lovable but, very sensitive woman and dog lover. It will be extremely hard for her heart to heal anytime soon on the loss of her beloved dog. It’s only a dog- get over it. That was probably the old war machine me talking. The new more tolerant and inclusive me is a complete opposite of my partner in many ways. People change and so do dogs- only at a much quicker pace.
So how many decades of life do those of you still reading this have left?
There’s three things people can do with the time they have left. One is to try and save it (good luck with that) two is to give it away or have it taken away from you; another is to invest your time and (travel) see the world around you through the life of a child, an animal like Lucy or an elderly person; and finally you can squander it.
Your life is not a countdown to your death, but it is merely a stepping stone. Lucy the lab, I can say with confidence is the only dog that knows what side her bread is buttered on. She is more of a quick learner than even some of our grandkids. She always knew exactly what to do or who to please in order to stay in a good situation or to avoid a bad one.
When Lucy was young, for about seven days, every day she would chew on a different work shoe. Even though nearby stood a complete box of every chew toy she had recently destroyed.
Patti complained to Lucy repeatedly about the situation but, to no avail. At the end of the first week she told Lucy to stop picking on her things or I’ll stop feeding you – or words to that effect.
I think that dog finally understood her. The next day when I came home from work one of my work shoes looked like it had been run over by a locomotive. I chased that pup around the house and way into the backyard.
Soon I thought I had her. Like a madman I threw the unchewed mate of the shoe she chewed at her. She was fast and she ducks quickly. We soon called it a truce. That’s how she immediately learned to stop chewing up our things.
Losing a dog can mean losing that extra special motivation to leave the house for a walk. That won’t be happening to us- we’re retired and if I have anything to say about it – we’re going on a long camino.
It can also be the reason you chat with a stranger on the trail. Not a problem either.
And at the end. Lucy was all but disabled with pain, her spleen was near to rupturing according to her vet. It has doubled in size within a weeks time. She could not continue to bear it even with the CVD oil and pain pills.
Death is natural, but, it is pointless to me for any creature to have to continue to suffer. In the olden days, people would shoot a horse or other animal in such pain.
Today her vet is making a final house call.
God bless. RIP.