Last night, my sweet and loving dog Belle passed away.
She was sixteen years old, and had the most loving, light-filled heart.
Through all we’ve been going through here at home, I’ve been trying to avoid her inevitable deterioration. It’s been over a year since she had a problem walking or moving her hips. The night before last, I heard a very pain-filled whining from the garage, only to find she was unable to stand up, legs sprawled in two directions. I felt so awful. I know my sweet dog has been a burden at home during this difficult time with my Mom, but I was hoping we’d be able to work it out.
It was a windy afternoon yesterday, and I called her out to the front of the house. She came to me and I held her in my arms, tufts of her shedding winter coat blowing away in the fading rays of daylight. “You’ve given me so much love and joy,” I whispered. “You are my sweetest friend.”
I hope she can forgive me, but I couldn’t go to the vet to be with her during her last moments. I just couldn’t. My valiant brother took her instead, and stayed with her until the end. He said she lay quietly and at the last moment, crossed her paws, like she used to do when she was a puppy.
It was the summer of 1988 when I found Belle at a pet shop next to the Four Hills movie theatre. I had actually been enamoured of her sister, a very pretty white and brown border collie mix with Cleopatra-lined black eyes. Our family never had a dog, and it took a lot of wearing my parents down before they agreed to it. When I came back to the store, the Cleo dog was gone and only this little black and white ball of fire remained. She was so tiny, the runt of the litter, and full of wicked energy. She flew into my arms and it was love. I named her after the great white dog from the stories of Belle and Sebastian.
I remember it was impossible to get this little puppy to sleep in the laundry room on the newspaper like she was supposed to, since she wasn’t housebroken yet. She was a herding dog and just couldn’t stand being away from the action. Her yelping became so intolerable that I let her out, and she promptly jumped on my bed and slept the night without a peep. That’s when I knew we were bonded for life.
That herding instinct made her always try to find ultimate point where she could keep tabs on all humans in the house. I enjoyed trying to wreck her geometry by constantly shifting rooms, but she finally gave up on me. She wouldn’t take guff from anyone, and you simply couldn’t play a trick on her, or get her to fetch something properly. She’d just give you a sarcastic look. I swear, my dog knew sarcasm.
Of course she did the typical puppy things like eat every shoe I owned (and my retainer) and dig out of every Fort Knox-like situation in the backyard we set up for her, including those horrible electric fences. I took her to obedience school to learn how to be Good, but I think it was just torture instead because their method was the choke chain, which looking back was absolutely horrendous. I hope she can forgive me for that, too.
She naturally mellowed out over time. She was protectress to my pains and unendingly amused at my joys. By the time I had to move away I knew she was already too old to suffer the slings and arrows of New York City, so she stayed with Mom and Dad. Dad began a daily ritual of taking her on long, long walks, where she was ever on the quest to catch the local jackrabbits. At some point, she finally caught up with one, and she was done walking.
She was always very sensitive to emotion and pain. When Mom got sick, she took to following her around everywhere she went and sleeping at her bedside. I told her that when I was in LA, she’d have to look after Mom. She took it to heart, I’m certain.
My Aunt Maria found me last night in my grief and reminded me that she fulfilled her doggily purpose to bring joy and love to the world by just being herself. Now that joy is released back into the universe. I can only hope that now she is waiting at the threshold for my Mom, to shepherd her to the other side.
Goodnight, my doggy. I love you.
I'm so sorry that you have this loss on top of everything else that you are going through. Lisa | 05.15.04 - 9:31 am | #
Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. I'm so glad that you were able to know the joy that such a being can bring, though, and its wonderful to be able to remember the contribution that she made to your life.
Now, whereever Blue is, she is. Yes, I had a dog named Blue. don't make fun. don | Homepage | 05.15.04 - 9:42 am | #
"Blue" was Belle's codeword for food that was OK to eat (also from the chokechain class). I fear that Belle will find your dog's name rather...delicious. a | Homepage | 05.16.04 - 9:37 pm | #
Sorry to hear that, Adriana. William F. House | Homepage | 05.17.04 - 6:22 am | #
When my friend Glenn died two years ago, I was honestly comforted by the realization that he had Gotten It Right, with his life.
Big, long hugs to you. And I will share my puppy with you, when we get one. I promise. Pammikins | 05.17.04 - 5:39 pm | #
i will post pictures of my doggy at some point, probably not until i get home from albuquerque. she was really beautiful. a | Homepage | 05.18.04 - 12:00 am | #