Ranger lost a friend today.
Last Sunday, I gave my elderly Collie a bath and set her out on a tether in the front yard to dry.
I went inside to putter around and later returned to find my eight year old daughter cuddling Lady.
“She’s sad. Nobody really pets her any more.”
The last couple of months, Lady’s arthritis had gotten bad; despite medication, she did not get up very often from her favorite little spot in the backyard. When she came in, she just slept. Where was my frisky, bouncy, happy pup of yesteryear?
She had faded into a tired old lady.
That day, though, was a gorgeous sunny day and my daughter wanted to spend time with the sweet old girl. I gave her the leash, and Lady limped off hesitantly, no longer trotting on leash but walking politely behind a little girl holding a basket of toys and sundry other childhood treasures.
“I should take a picture,” I thought. “They’re so cute.”
But I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
They were headed out to the neighborhood park together. Sweet Lady calmly endured the petting and giggles and shrieks of all the delightful little human friends at the playground and with a groan settled down to sun herself, enjoying the warmth, the affection, and the change of scenery.
On the way back home, after this short outing, Lady was limping more. I noticed she was starting to develop bedsores on her feet; it hurt her to get up and to lie down, now.
Veterinarian Franklin McMillan notes in his book on animal emotions that there really is no one “right time”, a single magical moment in existence where a dog goes from happy and vibrant to suffering. So, he says, always choose “too early”. If you think they are suffering but you are worried that it is too early, that’s ok. Because “too late” is the only other option and that means they are suffering unnecessarily.
Maybe it was already too late.
My darling Lady, my agility dog, therapy dog, Canine Good Citizen, demo dog for classes.
My best friend.
She deserved comfort. If only I could give it to her without my own heart breaking.
But that’s the price we pay for the joy of dogs.
Rest in Peace, pretty Lady. Who’s a good girl? You are.
December 2001-February 13, 2015