I have been waffling on what to write about this summer, if I should write. I will write. I have decided that I like the idea of writing seasonally, it is less stressful, finite in expectation and can easily be started up again.
This year I was going to document season two of the garden – while the garden is starting to sprout, and a self watering system was retrofitted in April, it just isn’t doing too much right now. It could be construed as an example of what my (our life) is like these days. Seeds sown, water applied and I am patiently (?) waiting the plants to grow and bear fruit. Undoubtedly, there will be some garden commentary but I don’t feel it will be the primary focus this season.
This past winter while mild, seemed a very long one. Transition, growth, expansion, change – not always welcome at the time. When I’ve moved through them and can reflect, it is possible however to see the lessons, and feel true gratitude. Of course I am not going to claim those feelings are instant! There are some changes that are never expected and certainly never easy to experience.
If you have ever had a pet, one that you’ve cared for and grown attached to, you will know what I am talking about. If you have never had a pet that you truly loved, told your secrets too, and recognized unconditional acceptance in their eyes, I feel badly for you. I hope you may realize there is still time and that you may in your lifetime know the calming affect a beloved pets presence can have at the end of a long trying day. That you will feel joy in your heart as they run toward you in a delirious state welcoming you home. That you might have the privilege to love and care for a pet, that will leave you feeling profound loss, knowing you did all you could as your hand strokes their downy soft brow, while they exhale their final breathe.
I have had dogs since I was a nine years old. To this day I tell everyone with babies and small children that mention getting a dog, “wait until they are nine”. No scientific reason, other than it was a good age for me to experience my first dog. Needless to say 22 years later, RC & I just adopted dog number seven. We’ve had four pedigreed registered dogs, and now three mutts. More about number seven in a bit.
Cider, aka Cid, Cidre, Cidey, Cider Jane, dog four was my first mutt. I found her on Kijiji – for sale Bullmastiff Shepard Mix. We had a bullmastiff – so that was good. I refer to her as my trailer park rescue, from a litter of twelve. When I first went to check out the puppies they were just lying on a blanket on the floor. I was mortified. I was let into the house by a young boy about fourteen years old, and his younger sister led me to the closet where the pups were. There were no adults or parents in sight. I left there a bit worried for the children, and the puppies. Needless to say about 6 weeks later I went back and picked up my girl.
Fast forward nine years. Cider started limping out of nowhere. Maybe she’d slipped on the ice, it was everywhere. That didn’t seem right. I watched and observed, and things did not seem to be getting any better. I had my suspicions – bone cancer – but didn’t want to be accused of being a hypochondriac by proxy. After two weeks, and several vet trips it was confirmed. By now she was uncomfortable, and staying still most of the day. We couldn’t risk having her leg break, so we made the appointment and held to out promise to always care for her and never let her suffer.
Cider wasn’t the first trip to the vet – and it doesn’t get any ease. I really think she knew, and that she was grateful. That being said, I was not expecting the devastation that I felt as I lay on the clinic floor next to her, babbling on, attempting to make it seem better, knowing I couldn’t. Just being there for her, and thanking her for the lessons she provided. She was the hardest dog I have ever had. I had to be pretty innovative at times – and (thank her for the carpet finally being removed)… Oh Cider. She was gone – Home to Frankie and Diesel, without her.
This is the part where I could go on at length about how they knew when we left what was up. They knew she wasn’t coming home. They got to say “good-bye”. I wish that I had brought them (note to self). They knew. When I brought the ashes home a few days later, I showed them to Frankie and Diesel. Frankie turned her head away, and Diesel went crazy trying to get at them. I have never seen him behave like that before.
By the end of April, two months later he was still moping. On friend described him as melancholy and morose. I knew he was glum, but again wasn’t sure if I was simply transferring my emotions about Cider onto him. Multiple people commented on his obvious sadness. I wasn’t really thinking of getting another dog, but as fate would have it I stumbled across one on a local rescue group’s page about 3 weeks ago. More about him soon.
As I write these words, I have to note, that all of my dogs found their way to me. The right place, the right circumstances. Whatever pre-conceived ideas I may have had about what my dog might be, or look like always get thrown out the window as the right beastie finds me. They have found me via classified ads in a printed news paper, magazine articles, chance encounter at a dog show, friend of a friend, kijiji, spca blog, and most recently a Facebook page. Always when just turning pages, scrolling through or innocently watching confirmation and wondering – “hey what kind of dog is that”?
Cider lived a good, and full life. Well cared for and loved by many. A dog that suffered from severe separation anxiety, and a multitude of behaviours I could never quite put my finger on. I am so grateful that RC and his friend were studying together everyday in January, so she was never alone and had company and walks for what turned out to be the last weeks of her life.
I must give thanks for Cider, and all the lessons learned. She was a good teacher – and touched me in a way I had never expected. She was my brown eyed girl. I love all my dogs past and present, but she was the dog that took care of me. When I was sick she would fret, she would check on me. When I was rushing she made me slow down. When I was sad she would do something to make me laugh. She taught me about boundaries, and body language, and how to accept her just the way she was. I know she is barking and running through the brush with her old pals Guinness and Duncan.