Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This post contains a "Sad" warning. If you don't want to go there-- I don't blame you. Skip today and try to come back tomorrow. Promise to be more cheerful then.

Dutchess was one really smart dog and became a huge help to me. The main thing she did to help was not taught, but of her own doing. Each evening I would call the dogs to get their heart worm preventive. It was a very bitter medicine in those days, that we squirted down their throats daily. All I had to do was walk out the door with the medicine bottle and I was almost dog less. Nary a hide nor hair anywhere except for Dutchess who all ready had heart worms so the medicine would actually kill her.

One by one I would call the dogs, and one by one they would s l o w l y appear. One afternoon my neighbor was visiting while I dispersed the medicine. He also noticed that Dutchess always accompanied the dog that was due. I would call "Loki" and sure enough he would appear with Dutchess either ahead, beside ,or behind him. Same with the rest of the dogs. I had originally thought she was just a bit mean spirited and just enjoyed watching her pack shake their heads and spit after getting the vile medicine.

My neighbor quietly followed her that evening to see what was happening. The dogs would be lying flat in the palmettos bushes hiding from me. Dutchess would stand briefly in dominance over the dog whose name I had called . With out a growl or prod, they would then rise and reluctantly come to me. She always got their names right. My neighbor nick named her Einstein. That self taught trick really saved me a lot of time and aggravation.

Dutchess stayed with me for 3 years. She was always in great health and spirits. I had fooled myself into thinking that perhaps the Vet had been wrong about her heart worms and age for she never showed the first sign of illness.

One day as I returned from work, the dogs swarmed me competing for attention. My eyes focused however on Dutchess. Something happened then that had never happened before and has not happened since. I looked into her eyes and felt my own eyes burn with tears.

"You are dying." was all I said as I dragged her to me and held her tight. She looked fine showing no signs of disease, yet I knew. I can't begin to tell you why, but I knew. It was in her eyes and her ears had returned to half mast.

I took her in that day for she usually preferred the out doors. That night she was content to be in and to let me hold her close. Breaking all rules, she slept in bed with me , never moving as I kept my arm around her feeling her chest rise and fall with each breath with no sign of distress. Oh how I hoped I was wrong. She died during the night without a whimper and my arm rested on a cold dog in the morning.

Dutchess was the first dog I lost as an adult. I could not believe the depth of my grief. It is always achingly painful and never gets any easier the older you get and the process is repeated. There is no other ending with pet ownership. We know how it will end when we first cuddle that little puppy, but we still do it. Their lifespans are just too brief, but wow ,are they packed with unconditional love.

I was deeply sorry I couldn't buy her more time but was grateful that I did stop that day 3 years earlier. She gave me so much more than she ever got. Originally I railed at the unfairness of her having to leave after only 3 years. I later felt that perhaps it was the fairest thing that could have happened to her. She was spared any long drawn out pain or debilitating illness . She went quickly and quietly, knowing she was loved.

Rest easy little girl.


  1. It's a little difficult to see through my tears. I think she had already done her long drawn out suffering before you found her. You were her angel. You were her hospice. How fortunate for her. I am so sorry for you to lose such a special friend. At the end of this story I feel like you were both very lucky to have met.

  2. Who Knew That pretty much sums it up. Thankd

  3. Hello, Patti. I arrived here through your comment on Reader Wil's ABC Wednesday post. I'm another Pat from Arkansas; I live near Little Rock.

    I am sorry you lost your Dutchess, but relieved to know that she passed peacefully. My daughter's family recently adopted a beautiful little Sheltie which turned out to have heartworms, but she has survived the treatment so far, and we hope she will make a complete recovery. I wish your story could have had a more happy ending.

  4. Heartbreaking, but beautiful. Those three years with you must have been pure bliss for her. Her life ended well, loved and embraced. Who could ever ask for more?

  5. Hi Pat, Welcome and thanks for commenting. Looks like we have the name and the state sewed up. Hope the Sheltie is doing great. They have come along way with the heartworm treatment. Bless them for treating her. I will pop over to visit you now.

    Thanks Robin, We can only hope our own "fade to black" is as easy and well attended.

  6. How awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings to you and your family……

  7. Femin Susan
    Thank you for stopping by and the kind thoughts.