|August 21, 2017
Hello again Maple People,
How do you say goodbye to your old dog? That’s what Betsy and I were recently faced with. Her name was Averill and she had been with us for fourteen years. She always loved her daily romp[with one or both of us in the woods but recently it slowed to a toddle in the woods and then “no woods at all”. Lately she has been sleeping close to twenty-four hours a day and only dreaming about woods romps.
That was Averill’s recent life. That and a very leaky bladder. Lately there were puddles all over the house and two saturated dog beds. The ammonia smell had taken over. Our other dog, Fern, was confused. “Why” she must have wondered “is the bed I share always wet and the smell so huge to my dog nose?” Fern started spending more and more time outdoors, away from the bed and the smell. It’s something when your house smells so bad, in spite of all Betsy’s mopping, even the dog moves out!
We took her to the vet seven months ago and bought some pills that would supposedly tighten up her “waterworks” but it didn’t work. We felt that Averill’s “time” had come so Betsy made the dreaded call. When she described Avie’s situation, the nice vet said “Betsy, she’s just as uncomfortable with this as you are.” We thought of how intimate dogs are with the smell of their urine. They use it for navigation, like we use road maps, and through it they are somehow tied to other animals. They must be terribly confused when it is unintentionally left all over their home.
The vet’s agreement to be at our place that same day kind of “snuck up” on us but, knowing what had to be done, I grabbed a shovel and headed out on our acreage. The digging was tough, through rocks and ledges but I knew Avie needed to be forever on the farm she loved. That was the extent of my participation…At times like that, I melt from a crusty sort to a blubbering idiot in the shake of a dog’s tail. When the vet’s white truck crept out the field road to the grave site, I was outa there. Betsy was with Averill at the end and I returned only to cover her grave.
We’ll never forget our Avie. She was one of our very best friends for a long time. We nurtured her through puppyhood (and she was a real puppy!), on through middle age, and into her dotage. She had a mind of her own, skeptical and ready to mix it up with all other dogs except Fern. For Averill and Fern, it was love at first sight. Oh how they loved the morning’s first sniff and daily exploration.
Fern’s a bit lost without Averill. I suppose time will heal for all of us but right now, grief has us in a death grip. This missive will end with a question just like it began…why do humans live eighty years while our “best friends” only fourteen? Only God holds the answer but, one thing for sure: We packed in eighty years worth of love. RIP Averill.