There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Monday, July 31, 2006

Pennys in the fountain

My first pet as a child was a copper colored Cocker Spaniel named Penny. Not a very inventive name, but she was a beautiful puppy and I loved her. At the time, my family lived in a rear house that was once a garage. It had been converted into a one bedroom home with another garage added on that my parents made into their bedroom. The house was surrounded by cement. There wasn't one plant, flower, patch of dead grass or a weed; just cement. Not the best place for a growing puppy that pottied every hour. I played with Penny and tried to clean up after her, but I was five and not interested in the potty part of a puppy, just the playing, running, having fun parts of a puppy.

Eventually Penny became a dog and the clean up had been taken over by my mother. Since my mom wasn't even a good housekeeper, dog clean up was not a favorite pastime of hers. The "word" came from my dad. Penny had to go, mommy isn't happy and Penny wants to run in the grass and have lots of space to go potty. Penny was going to live on Uncle Bill's farm. Who was Uncle Bill and since when did he become a relative? While Uncle Bill was not related, he did have a farm and my dad and I took Penny there on a Saturday that was warm and clear as only California could be in the early 50's.

Penny was out of the car in a flash and she was happy. There were other dogs there and I had a child's vision of her herding sheep for some reason......no there wasn't a bahhhh to be heard. So, Penny became a farm dog and I never had another childhood pet.

My husband and I adpoted an older shelter dog named Charlie in late November of 1998. He is a beautiful chocolate Lab, and he has been the pet love of my life. Charlie has been my companion, my friend, listened to me bitch and moan and never once complained about late breakfasts, too few walks in the forest or going to the groomer to get detailed. He was the best boy when he was in the kennel when we vacationed and faithfully went to sleep beside our bed every night, trading sides so my husband and I felt equally loved. Charlie had a neurological catastrophe that almost paralyzed him two years ago. We had two choices..... we could do surgery, but the recouperation was hard and given his unknown age (old, we were told) he had a poor outlook. We went with option two which was steroids and quality of life. Charlie has tried his best to go back to the day before his neck hurt, but it has been hard. He has slowly lost his sight, lost his hearing, can't walk a straight line, won't lay down for hours but paces and pants instead because once down he can't get up. He pottied in the house last week and has every day since. In essence he has lost his personality and his dignity.

We purchased our current property in 1989. We built a shop and an apartment to stay in when we vacationed here. Several years before we moved here permanently (1998), a golden retreiver/husky/shepherd mix dog became our official greeter. When we pulled into the driveway, there she was tail wagging and glad to see us. She lived across the road and she became Charlie's girlfriend. She was the only living creature that could entice him to leave us for a while to go on forest adventures. I could count on her being in the drive every morning after we moved here, waiting for a cookie or a pig ear, walking with us to get the paper and not going home until she was sure Charlie and I were inside. If it was 20 below, she was there, 103 degrees at 7 AM, she was there. Faithful. Her family had their own catastrophe a few months ago and they shattered and went in different directions all over the state. My husband and I were talking to the mother of the family as she was moving out, giving her our best wishes for a better future when she told us their dog was an unwanted comodity. Not a beat was missed as my husband and I both said "We'll take her."

God knew we needed that dog. Charlie will be put down tomorrow, and we will bury him in the yard where he ran and walked with us on all of those wonderful days. The neighbor dog that was expendable, but had a special place in our hearts, was named Penelope by her first family......I call her Penny.

1 comment:

gina said...

I had a Penny when I was the same age. She was an Irish Setter. I think she was old when we got her, and she didn't last long. There are snapshots of us crawling all over her as she dozed. Then we got Rusty, a golden retriever mixed with a cocker. We had him for several years. He had epilipsy. He would have seizures when he'd get too excited. He would just go stiff, as if in a trance. I would sit with him, calming him, gently stroking his head with a wet cloth (I thought that would help for some reason) until he came out of his trance-like state. Every time he appeared to be getting too excited, I would call him, try to calm him down. I remember him getting sick. Some sort of urinary tract obstruction that we didn't discover until it was too late. I was in high school and on my way to a dance at school. He was on his way to be put to sleep. I cried during every slow song.