Saturday, September 12, 2009

Puppy Dog Tales

(The boy and his dog - 14 years later!)

Once upon a time a boy wanted a dog. Something of his very own. He looked high and low and one day, with his mom in tow, he found the perfect dog. There in the pound she sat, with ears not ready to be up or down, this ball of fur with a smile and a glint in her eyes. The boy named her Shelli, so that whenever he "called, a pretty girl would come running!"

That's how Shelli came to our house. Paul adopted her when he was 17 years old. It was an odd time to get a dog, he was a year or so away from leaving the nest, yet he had always craved a dog of his own. She became a healer of sorts. She could calm a troubled heart by just laying next to you. Many a time Paul would hold her, lay down beside her or just sit next to her and talk his heart out. She worked on others too. we would sit next to her, her head on our leg, rub her soft ears and away went the sorrows. We all learned to lean on her.

Time flew by and she remained when Paul grew up and flew the nest. Now she slept with Drew, hogging most of the bed while he made do with the edges. When Drew moved away, Shelli stayed by my side and healed my wounded heart. Another fledgling to leave our nest. Shellie now shared the bed with Q. At his feet or on his pillow. She would race him up the stairs to bed, bring her ball, and lick his face as he slept. But boys grow up to be men and when he did Shelli nestled in next to me and licked my face. Another bird had flown.

Shelli had grown older and she no longer could climb the stairs at bedtime. But she remained our constant friend. Shelli protected her last little bird, Jennie, and barked when dates arrived to woo her away. She lay at the feet of every date and pretty much gave approval or disdain. When Jennie was sad, she rubbed Shelli's ears, got a sloppy kiss and cares were easier. When Jennie flew off to college, Shelli stayed by me almost night and day. She made those hard days easier. When Jennie married, Shelli was the only one who knew all my feelings. (She knew more of my secrets than anyone!) Yep, all the chickens flew the nest and only Shelli stayed behind to need some love and care.

Today she leaned on us. She told us with soulful eyes that it was time to let her go...I hate writing this tonight...
I hate it when the dog dies at the end of a story.... Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, even Marley and Me. Yet this is another story with another sad ending. I've already used up my tissue allotment and it's only day 1...

I know we are talking about our pet.There are friends and family who have suffered far greater losses, those who've lost children, parents, and other loved ones. There are those who are going through scary illnesses and unknown futures. I certainly don't want to negate that. But my heart still hurts!! This house is too darn quiet. I call out, "hey Shelli-dell..." and no jingling of collar and tags, no climbing off the couch to come and lick me. (We finally gave in and gave the living room couch to her. Front rooms and parlors are very overrated you know. She loved the country french cabbage roses even when I was ready for Metro chic. My next sofa will be leather anyway!) So, through swollen, red-rimmed eyes I ask myself, "What am I supposed to learn from this?"

Things I learned from Shelli:

1. Unconditional love - no questions asked!! Each and everytime! She was awesome at that. It's hard for me at times. I have lots of practice ahead.

2. Never, never, never give up! Chasing balls, walking when wounded, coming back for more attention. She never gave up. I can try that!

3. How to care for someone when they are older - Rich was better than me. Not usually. He was always the one to discipline her when she was younger, but no more. He was patience personified. He just adopted the attitude that she wouldn't be here forever. That was a great lesson. I should have remembered that when I was mopping floors at 2am.

4. Always be eager - for a car ride, a treat, a walk, to throw the ball. (even at the end of her life - she would take one or two steps after it, but she was always eager.) I may not be able to wag my tail but I vow to try to always be eager!

5. ...Until the last few days. Then she just slowed down. She knew it was time to go. She looked at me as if to say, "it's time,let me go, you can do this." Not really, Shelli-girl. This is harder than I thought. But you sure have taught me a whole crop of lessons. You're preparing me for the big stuff. I think she also taught me to appreciate what you've got... don't worry about what other's think...Eat cat food (who cares that you're a dog, eat what you like....leave a little bit of yourself behind....that way people will remember you! We call it - Dog hair! (everyone always left with a little bit of her!) But what a good idea. Always leave a little bit of yourself with people!!

There are many more lessons that I'm sure I was taught but they may take a few more days to materialize. Thanks, Shelli-girl!


Marry said...

she was a sweet dog...

Jenners said...

This was just sweet and beautiful and a fine tribute to your beloved pet. And don't feel that this loss is any "less" because it isn't. Mourn your friend and companion. She deserves it.

Susan said...

I'm so sorry, it's hard to say goodbye to a pet that has been so much a part of your family and life. We are facing the same soon with our cat, and I'm dreading it. My sympathies to you and your family!

Diane said...

Such a beautiful tribute to a devoted friend and companion :(