About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For The Love of a Dog

You all know what a sucker I am for a good dog and I know that most of the people who read my blog do not subscribe to the Vancouver Sun newspaper. But Pete McMartin, a regular columnist, has the BEST story today and I would like to share it with you all. I am copying it verbatim, so please realise that it is not my writing, but McMartin's. Also, he doesn't say, but I am guessing it might have been his family dog. The one at the right is not the dog he's writing about, but it gives you a visual while reading. Be sure to have some kleenex or tissues handy.

Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, April 24, 2008

It was the habit of the dog to sit on the back of the couch near the living room window and watch for the woman

The dog, a fox terrier, would sit there while the woman was at work, and when the woman would pull into the driveway in the late afternoon, the dog would see her and raise her head and something like a smile would come over the dog's face, if a dog could smile.

The dog would jump off the couch and run to the front door, and when the woman opened the door, the dog would be the first thing the woman saw when she walked into the house.

The woman would bend to the dog and ask her how she was, and the dog would spin in circles as the woman petted her, and then the dog would sing the way dogs do and tell her how mournful her day had been without her.

Then the woman would put down her purse and go upstairs to her bedroom to change out of her work clothes, and the dog would follow her, and from that moment forward, when the woman made dinner in the kitchen, when she sat on the couch and watched TV, when she went to bed and read before going to sleep, she and the dog would be nearly inseparable, each moving in each other's orbit.

When the woman turned off the bedroom lights, the dog would be laying at the foot of the bed, with her head resting against the woman's feet, as if even in sleep they might be connected.

There were other people in the house -- a husband, a daughter, two grown sons living nearby -- but the dog largely ignored them. She had been bought as a birthday gift for the daughter when the dog was a puppy, but the puppy's novelty soon wore off and it was the woman who ended up feeding the dog and taking her on walks and cleaning up after her when she shat on the carpets.

The woman was not a dog person by nature -- she laughed at people who bought clothes for their dogs or who baby-talked to them -- but she became by default the dog's sole guardian. It wasn't a job she had wanted.

Over the years, their routines became a fixture of the house. When the woman took a shower, the dog would wait patiently outside in the hall for her.

When the family went somewhere in the car, the dog would sit nowhere else but on the woman's lap, her eyes closed, her muzzle resting on the dashboard.

On walks to the beach, the woman would throw stones into the water and the dog would dive in after them, her stubby tail wagging back and forth in the water like a propeller. One year, when the woman grew gravely ill and was confined to her bed for weeks, the dog never left her side.

But dogs live abbreviated lives, and as she aged, she developed an ailment that would revisit her every couple of years. A few weeks ago, the dog began to slow down visibly, and the woman, thinking the ailment had returned, took the dog to the veterinarian.

On the first day of her stay at the vet hospital, the dog improved, and the woman was hopeful. But on the second, the vet called her at work and told her the dog had begun to bleed internally and that she was failing.

The woman left work and hurried to the vet's. She sobbed in the car on the way. At the vet's, the dog had been sedated for pain and covered with blankets for warmth, and when the woman got there, she found the dog had been put in a small room where the two of them could be together. The dog's eyes were still open, but because of the sedation the woman could not tell if the dog could hear her or see her.

The woman stroked the dog's matted fur. She bent her face to the dog's. She spoke to her. Her tears fell on the dog's nose and on the dog's tongue.

After a few minutes, the dog whimpered and arched her back, and the woman cried out that she didn't want to see her in pain and the vet was summoned and the vet gave the dog the shot. And then came that thing that never ceases to amaze, the end, the complete stillness, the absence of the vivid, animated thing that once was.

Later, the vet said that if the woman wanted, the hospital could have the dog cremated and the ashes placed in an urn with the dog's name on it. The woman, through her tears, said yes. But the woman was not a dog person, and not one for anthropomorphizing a family pet, and after a few minutes she thought the idea of an urn was macabre, so she said no, give her the ashes in a bag. She would scatter them on the water where the dog would swim for stones.

Later, angry at herself that she was still crying, she would say -- "It's just a dog!" -- because she was not a dog person. Probably, she knew, there would be other dogs in the future.

And on the way home from the vet's, she knew she would have to relearn certain things in her life. How to cook in the kitchen without the dog watching her. How to sleep without the weight of its body at her feet. How to walk on the beach. All this she dreaded.

But what she dreaded most was having to go through that front door.

20 comments:

Gledwood said...

What a beautiful story.

I only found out what a "wire fox terrier" was the other day (might even have been yesterday as I posted the links up on my main blog)... the look just like Airedales to me... same bearded Disney-dog look. Very cute ;->...

Paulie said...

I am not even a dog lover and you have me in tears, streaming down my cheeks. Thanks for sharing that love story!

Ruth W. said...

wonderful story...a dog will win over every human that is out there. How can you not love something that will give you love for all of it's life.

Can't wait till I retire so I can get another puppy!!!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Oh, god, that just broke my heart.

jmb said...

Well you and I both know this feeling Leslie. It was horrible to have to hold my dog while she was put to sleep. I still miss her.

Momma said...

Leslie, this couldn't have come on a more appropriate day for me. You see, today would have been my puppy Leo's first birthday. (http://leonidas.critters.com) He was a little white bulldog puppy who only live to be 16 weeks. He had congenital liver shunts that came back after a major surgery to remove the first ones. After trying so hard to get him well, all kinds of specialists, we had to let him go. And yes, the hardest thing to do is to walk in the door and not have them there to greet you.

Two of my former pets grace my mantle: Leo and Nikki (a beautiful Samoyed who lived to be 12 and was my husband's dog). And when my cat, CC, dies, I'm saving her ashes. They will be scattered with mine. She was my first cat and she and I are quite close.

Love those furry babies...

Now I need to wipe my eyes...D

Mental P Mama said...

Dear Lord. Reminds me of when we had to say goodbye to Boomer.

Tai said...

*sniff*

It's a bittersweet tale, I'm sure it takes everyone to a place where they remember....

the walking man said...

Yeah...definitely the dog we had who died on the Blue Ridge Parkway (just got up from her prone position on the back seat, took a look around at the Shenandoah Valley and laid down and died.)a stray that was with us 15 years and she was at least four years old when she came and laid down beside the garage.

Of course it was my son who wanted the dog and my wife the dog attached too, I will always remember the heartbreak of that day on the Blue Ridge, but she went where others had died in battle and that's what she was, a warrior, fiercely protective of the wife.

Two weeks later we came across the dog that killed the bear and took her in. She is totally different when left home, she snubs "the Giants that dare not companion her," for a few hours to teach us a lesson. I am not a dog person either.

Thanks for sharing this Leslie.

Peace

mark

Ellee Seymour said...

My neighbour has the same breed dog, I often take it for walks, I would love one for myself. This is a lovely warm story, thank you for sharing it. Enjoy your weekend.

Trubes said...

What a touching story Leslie, it made me smile, feel warmth, sad then resigned to the fact that nobody, beast nor bird is immortal.
My little cat Chloe never leaves my side when I'm at home, apart from her afternnon nap on her favourite bed....mine!
Recently I had a 'Bad Rheumatoid' night; DT slept on, blissfully unaware of my discomfort,(I didn't think there was much point in him having a sleepless night too). Darling Chloe, dutifully followed me downstairs whilst found some suitable pain relief, then sat next to me, on the bed whilst I tried to go back to sleep.
It took about 2 hrs before I finally settled.
Each time I opened my eyes, two enormous, worried looking, green eyes, blinked back at me.
When I, awoke in the morning,there was Chloe, sitting next to me, still watching, patiently waiting for me to stir.
DT commented that he didn't know what was wrong her, as she hadn't been down for her breakfast, despite him calling her.
As soon as I got ut of bed she dashed downstairs and went through her morning ritual of badgering him for her breakfast.
I've had several Cats but none as loving as this little lady.

My Granny had a Wire Haired Fox Terrier, called Max and he used to smile too!

Di.

Trubes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josie said...

What a lovely story. I think we have all had a dog like that, several in fact. We had a Scottie dog named Maggie who "adopted" my mother as her main companion. They were inseparable. We all cried for days when Maggie died. Later on, my mother used to have a recurring dream that Maggie was waiting for her at the top of a grassy hill.

When my mother died, and we were driving away from the cemetary, I turned around for one last look, and I realized that my mother's grave was at the top of a grassy hill. It gave me comfort to know Maggie with with her there.

Nancy said...

WOW, Leslie, that is profound, a tear jerker indeed. Thanks for sharing. I love my dog just like family and can so identify with the story... been there done that. This makes me dread "THE END" but at the same time, reminds me to make the most of every moment I have with my precious "Elmo"!

Have a great weeknend!

kewpi said...

what a wonderful story.Thank you.I am in tears while reading it

Daryl E said...

Oh .. that is so sad .. poor woman .. Daryl

Pam 'oh Da Woods said...

Hi Leslie,
Well talk about timing...my dear friend just lost her dog of 15 years this week...and I just heard from her and hour ago!!
Made me go and give Bebe a hug!!!
Pam 'Oh Da Woods

caroline said...

Thank you Leslie for a lovely read
it is so nice to know there are people out there who share my passion of dogs:0)
Intrested to hear you have had Boxers in your time would love to hear more about them.
your blog is so intresting i'm new to all this:0)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, I dread all that, too. Beautifully told story.

starnitesky said...

That is such a beautiful story, it makes me very sad as it is what I am experiencing right now, my dog died last year and I am missing her so much, she followed me everywhere just like this dog but coming home from work is the worse thing.