Lacy Forever: Surviving the Loss of a Cherished Little Dog

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

For 14 years, my best friend was a spunky little bichon frise named Lacy, a fluffy force of nature whose vibrant presence far outweighed her body mass. She died this summer, leaving a sad, empty space in our home and in our hearts. Although I knew that it was time to let her go, that her little heart was failing and her body could no longer bear the strain, saying goodbye to my doggie soulmate was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. Nearly four months later, I still cry every day.

I miss her so much.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve ventured into this blog space. I’ve been so disoriented by everything that’s happened over the past two years, floating around all these months in a strange kind of reset mode. It’s just been too much. I had no words. The abrupt end of my career. This cruel, never-ending pandemic. My husband, injured in a car accident and unable to work. The 2020 election and its horrifying aftermath. And more bad news every day. I needed time to be still.

Lacy didn’t know about any of that. She was just glad I was home every day. She took her job seriously, my faithful companion, standing by me through every transition. In fact, this is my first blog post ever written without Lacy sitting beside me on the sofa. It’s taking a really long time to finish.

Grief is messy and relentless. Everywhere I look, Lacy’s absence cuts like a knife, because for over 5,000 days, she was my shadow. She guarded the bathroom while I showered, waiting calmly on the bath mat until I emerged from behind the curtain. When I was on my yoga mat, she napped nearby on the meditation cushion. And if I was in the kitchen, so was Lacy, darting underfoot while I cooked (a real trip-and-fall hazard) and persuading me with an elaborate song and dance to share what I was eating. Life feels pathetically hollow without the sound of her toenails tapping down the hall and her extravagant greeting when I walk through the front door. And so, over and over, all day long, my heart aches for her. 

Making Friends

Lacy was six weeks old and weighed less than three pounds when I first brought her home. She almost fit into my cupped palms! Choosing such a tiny puppy was a crazy thing to do at the time since we already had Bear, a magnificent ten-year-old German Shepherd who loved people but was aggressive toward other dogs. But I’d always wanted a dog that was more my size, one I could cuddle like a teddy bear with a heartbeat. Introducing the menacing black dog to the innocent white one was an intensely memorable experience. 

Bear knew something was up when we came home with our new puppy. Cautiously, I approached him with Lacy in my arms while my husband gripped Bear’s collar with one hand and his muzzle with the other. As I inched Lacy closer to allow Bear to smell her, a low growl rumbled in his throat and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. Veins popped out on the arms restraining Bear, and I braced myself to snatch Lacy away from impending danger.

And then…magic. Absolutely fearless in the face of an animal who could tear her to shreds, Lacy leaned toward that big old dog and licked him on the nose! 

Lacy and her big friend, Bear

Just like that, it was over. Perplexed at first, Bear shook his head and considered this fluff ball with new eyes. Then he fell in love with her. How could he not? They were inseparable, the big dog and the little dog. Lacy’s boundless joie de vivre inspired Bear to rise up off the rug with his arthritic hips and play again. He protected her fiercely and lavished her with affection, covering her with slobbery kisses that left her soft coat so slimy we had to towel her off before we could pet her. Lacy didn’t mind. She adored him too. Bear lived to be almost 15 years old, and I think Lacy deserves credit for that gift to us all. Her friendship in his golden years restored his mojo.

Lacy’s friendship in my middle years restored my mojo too. She delighted me every single day with her spontaneous, happy nature. My mom called her the little cheerleader, and that was the perfect description — she was always bouncy and effervescent! Even on the crappiest days, it was impossible to not laugh at her antics. And she taught this chronically overthinking worrywart how to live in the moment once in a while.

Life with Lacy

I was lucky to have a little dog who loved me so much for all these years. No one else on earth will ever respond to the sound of my voice the way she did, running to me from the far corner of the backyard, an expression of pure joy on her face. In her younger days, her Bichon Blitz was a dizzying burst of high energy as she raced in circles around the house, barking in excitement, leaping on furniture and flinging rugs upside down and sideways. And watch out if she wanted to wrestle with you! She’d flip onto her back and wrap her hind legs around your forearm so you couldn’t escape, growling playfully while she clutched your hand between her little front paws and nibbled on it.

Yep, this angelic-looking little dog had a naughty side. It was absolutely part of her charm. My husband Ret said she had a Cute License, credentials she’d whip out when you tried to scold her.

Always a tomboy, Lacy wouldn’t tolerate the grooming necessary to maintain her chic Bichon style, something I learned the first time I took her to the doggie salon. Fresh from a bath and looking like a movie star in a red hair bow, she immediately rolled around on a dead frog in the grass to rid herself of that girly scent. And everything got tangled in her coat. One dash under the azalea bush, usually after I’d just finished brushing her soft, fine hair, and she’d come out looking like this:

Miss Velcro

Lacy was a brave little dog, except for her extreme separation anxiety. She was also an excellent judge of character. Wary of strangers, she would usually stay close to me until she had time to check out new people. But once she’d completed her evaluation, she’d let me know. Most people passed inspection. But once, years ago, a young man came by offering to cut down a large, dying oak tree in our yard. He seemed a little shady to me, but I didn’t want to rush to judgement, so I opened the gate to let him have a closer look. Lacy sized him up from the patio for a moment or two. Then she raced up behind him and bit the back of his leg!

I was shocked to pieces. Lacy had never bitten anyone in her life. Startled, the guy couldn’t get away fast enough, which turned out to be pretty fortunate. A few days later, we learned he’d been arrested. He was doing some work at a neighbor’s house when the tree he was removing crashed down on a gate — and on the car of the police officer who’d picked that very moment to check out his non-existent credentials! You can’t make this stuff up. After that, I never doubted Lacy’s verdict on anyone.

But Lacy’s soft side was heart-meltingly perfect too. She wasn’t exactly a lap dog because she didn’t like being confined to anyone’s lap, but she’d lie as close to you as possible and place one little paw on your leg in the most endearing way. Her favorite place to snuggle when we napped together was in the crook of my bent knees as I lay on my side — unless she had a chance to steal my pillow. Little dog beds were scattered all over the house for her: in front of the bookcase, next to the bed, under my easel. They gave her a secure space to hang out as she followed me from room to room, especially in her later years.

The little beds aren’t there anymore; Ret picked them up and packed them away quickly so we wouldn’t have to face their emptiness. At first I thought I’d donate them to the Humane Society, but I decided to keep them. One day I hope there will be another little white dog in my life.

In my mind’s eye, I see my Lacy everywhere. Darting out from under the azalea bush, mischief in her eyes. Peering into the pantry, looking for a snack. Rushing to me across the backyard, her little feet flying over the grass. Tap dancing and tossing her head to get one of my French fries. Napping contentedly on my zafu. Forever snuggling with one little paw on my heart.

Let me show you my Cute License

Learning to Take It Easy

This is Lacy Larue, my sweet little bichon frise. Don’t let the creampuff looks fool you. She’s all dog.

Right now, Lacy is recovering from ACL surgery so she hasn’t been quite her animated self. How, you may ask, does a ten-pound cutie like Lacy wind up with a football injury? Our veterinarian thinks her being very bowlegged put undue strain on the ligament, but he’s never seen her fly off the sofa in a frenzy to menace the UPS man. So I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s been darned near impossible to keep her still and quiet while her knee heals.

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Hiding Klondike bar wrappers in her bed

Little dog, big personality

Like most small dogs, Lacy’s personality is larger than life. My mom calls her the little cheerleader because of her infectious buoyancy. She’s a few months away from her tenth birthday; while she naps a lot these days, she still embodies the youthful exuberance of her puppyhood. A fluffy white ball of kisses and willfulness, one minute she’s snuggled up next to you to watch TV (she’s a football fan) and the next she’s prancing on hind legs, insisting you share your ice cream. She has an uncanny ability to communicate without words, using little grunts, squeaks and a sound I can only describe as a snort to let you know exactly what she wants, and she’s quick to give you the side-eye if she doesn’t like something you’ve said.

Did I mention that it’s been a challenge to moderate all this craziness? The first few days after her surgery, she was a curled-up, pitiful little thing, but as the days went by and the effects of the anesthesia faded, Lacy regained her happy vigor. She was born with an anomaly called luxating patella, which causes her kneecap to shift out of position at times. Luxating patella is a fairly common problem with small breed dogs and both of Lacy’s back legs are affected. It doesn’t seem to bother her much. She can be happily dashing across the yard, and then suddenly she’ll raise a back leg and continue on without breaking stride. Thanks to a lifetime of three-legged running experience, this knee surgery is just no big deal. She can tear off behind Tanner the border collie in pursuit of a squirrel without a second thought.

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Sweet baby, just home from the hospital

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Biker dog? No! She’s having laser therapy treatment to help heal her little knee.

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The cone of shame…

Except, of course, I can’t allow her do that right now, because sometimes she forgets herself and puts that leg down as she runs. Lacy disregards her knee to jump up and down like a pogo stick when she wants something, like my dinner. And if we’re sitting on the sofa together and the doorbell rings, it’s all I can do to catch her before she launches herself to the floor to bark at the intruder. So it’s my job to protect my little buddy from herself, to somehow contain all this wildness so she doesn’t wreck. Dr. Bink’s good work.

Don’t push too hard

Do you know any people like that? People who push too hard, who rush headlong into every experience? There’s nothing inherently wrong with striving, obviously. But sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between challenging yourself and abusing yourself.

This tendency to overdo it shows up in so many areas of life, like being consumed with your job to the exclusion of everything else, or depriving your body with a crash diet. Why is moderation so hard for many of us to achieve?

I note this tendency in some of my yoga students, and sometimes myself, right on the mat. Adopting a yoga practice is one of the most nourishing gifts you can give yourself, but as in everything else in life, there’s a balance. The Sanskrit word asana, which is the name for the physical poses in yoga, loosely translated means “steady and comfortable seat.” According to Sri Swami Satchidananda, the goal of Integral Yoga®, the style of yoga I teach, is to develop an easeful body, peaceful mind and useful life. This means practicing the poses with a relaxed body, smooth breath and calm mind. But when you’re panting, straining or otherwise in a state of unease, you may be exercising, but it’s not yoga anymore.

This doesn’t mean we should show up on our sticky mats in sloppy apathy. One of my teachers likes to caution her students to “take it easy, but don’t be lazy.” So muscling your way into an arm balance, a headstand, a deep backbend, etc. when you’re fatigued, injured or new to the practice is not a good idea. However, challenging yourself to hold a pose for a few more breaths, or to attempt something new with caution and full awareness develops greater strength, flexibility and resilience. It’s a balance of effort and ease that fosters growth in our yoga practice — and everywhere else, too. It makes me cringe to see people in a seated forward bend gripping their feet with white-knuckled intensity and clenched teeth instead of allowing their hamstrings to lengthen gradually, safely and naturally. We benefit most when we choose the right action, reach for our limit, and allow the rest to unfold.

Back to Lacy, who is relaxing happily next to me on the sofa as I peck out these closing words. Yes, in her zest for life, she gets carried away sometimes. She doesn’t understand anatomical principles or the healing process, so that’s why she needs me. But she’s always known there’s a time to snuggle and a time to bark. A time to play and a time to rest. And we need to enjoy it all.

lacy-relaxing

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Not What I Wanted

Sometimes not getting what you want is a great boon.

It’s a cloudy winter afternoon in the waning days of 2016. I’m sitting comfortably on my sofa, reflecting on all the blessings in my life and thinking about how unexpected most of them are.

I could tell you about all the twists and turns my life has taken – I never thought I’d leave New Orleans, didn’t expect to have a career or find myself divorced and then remarried in my forties. Very little went according to plan, but somehow it all turned out… beautiful. It proves I don’t always know what’s good for me.

Meet Tanner

This gorgeous red and white dog is one example. His name is Tanner, aka Tan-Tan. Three years ago, Ret and I rescued him from the pound just days before his time ran out. According to the staff at Animal Control, he was a year-old border collie mix, housebroken and recently neutered. (I know, poor guy!) At the time he weighed 42 pounds and was a bundle of joyful energy. He’d been found as a stray several weeks before and no one had come to claim him. The staff named him Victor, a name too stuffy for this happy-go-lucky fellow.

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Victor, the pound puppy

Victor wasn’t what I wanted. I was looking for a small, older female dog to be a companion for Lacy, my little bichon frise. We’d lost our three elderly pets, and for the first time in her 6 years, Lacy was an only dog. (She and Louie the parrot have never really hit it off.)

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Louie, don’t come any closer…

Anyway, once we learned that poor Victor was in danger, we couldn’t bear it. We adopted him and changed his name to Tanner.

From pound puppy to family dog

Lacy wasn’t crazy about our choice. Tanner was energetic and goofy and had no concept of personal space, especially hers. He chased tennis balls all over the house, skidding across the wood floors and around corners, and his big fan tail knocked things over. Taking his cue from Lacy, who is an outstanding companion animal, Tanner wanted to sit in our laps even though he didn’t fit.

Tanner was (and still is) fascinated by socks: empty socks, socks with feet in them and especially socks while a foot is in the process of slipping into it. He was particularly enthralled with Ret’s black work socks and couldn’t leave Ret’s feet alone while he was wearing them. Most of our dinnertimes were spent laughing at Tanner’s sock-loving antics as he rolled around under the kitchen table at Ret’s feet with an expression of loony determination on his face.

This dog did everything with the gusto befitting someone who narrowly escaped death and appreciates every single moment. When we gave him a chew rope he’d lie on his back, paws in the air, dangling the rope to his mouth. He banged into furniture chasing his own tail, something he did with regular and delightful abandon.

And he grew. And grew. In six months’ time, Tanner morphed from a wiry 42-pound youngster to a 75-pound protector with a thick, wavy coat and a fierce intelligence behind the comic demeanor. No way was he a year old when we adopted him. More likely, he was a 6-month old puppy.

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A little too big for Lacy’s bed

So much for my small, older female companion for Lacy.

Ret and I often find ourselves marveling over Tanner’s place in our lives. How’d we get so lucky? It’s heartbreaking to think of all the special dogs that aren’t fortunate enough to find a forever home, but I am so grateful we found this one before it was too late for him. He’s such a bright, loyal creature, even if he is a little spooked by the new washer and dryer.

Good boy

For all his slapstick ways, Tanner is a remarkably perceptive, compassionate dog. He seems to know when I’m feeling blue or under the weather; he’ll appear by my side like a sympathetic friend, with no advice to give, but lots of warmth and affection.

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Today Tan-Tan is a beloved, full-fledged member of our family. He is always ready for fun, but he knows when it’s time to stretch out and watch TV. We count on him to remind us when it’s bedtime – around 10 p.m. he’ll stroll into the living room and beckon us to pull out his mattress. He’s also really good about announcing every visitor. Sometimes I feel sorry for the UPS man. Oh, and Lacy has come around. She’s right there beside Tanner when he sounds the intruder alert.

Living in the moment

One of the biggest gifts dogs give us is a renewed appreciation for the present moment. Dogs are great that way. The most important walk is the one we’re having now. The best cookie is this one. The best day? Today!

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Yoga dog: Tanner practicing viparita karani, or legs-up-the-wall.

If I’d known Tanner would grow to be such a big dog, I might have passed him by. And I would have never even realized my loss. Like so many other people, events and circumstances in my life, he wasn’t what I planned at all. But he was exactly what I needed.

The Story of Penny

Sometimes selfishness comes gift-wrapped.

— Ret Taylor

You may have surmised, based on my previous posts, that I’m an unapologetic dog lover. Perhaps because I was deprived of pets as a child (except for a short-lived relationship with a miniature Schnauzer – the original Greta), I’ve had at least one dog under my roof most of my adult life. Currently my husband and I share our home with an eight-year-old bichon frisé named Lacy, and Tanner, the crazy border collie mix who surprised us by doubling his weight in the first six months after we rescued him from the pound two years ago.

The story of Tanner is best told in a separate post, but I’ll admit that I become embarrassingly emotional in animal shelters. I cry the whole time and contemplate ways I could free all those poor, unwanted dogs and bring them with me to a magical meadow somewhere so they can frolic, eat and be loved all the days of their lives. The magnitude of the world’s suffering is more than my heart can contain, but there’s a special, fragile place there for homeless dogs.

This is the story of Penny.

I’ll spare you the long version, but a few weeks ago, at my urgent insistence, my husband and I adopted an adorable, seven-year-old Pomeranian mix (older dogs steal my heart) that had been pulled from the animal shelter. With a pointy little face and equally pointy ears, she looked like a miniature fox. The sweet little thing was in a loving foster home recovering from bladder surgery.

This was thIMG_1768e most affectionate dog I’ve ever met. Even though she’d been very ill and almost died, little Penny was more emotionally resilient than most people I know. You’d think an animal that had been neglected and allowed to suffer like this would never trust a human again, but time and again I meet dogs that are eager to give away their hearts one more time, hoping to have their love returned.

Confident that my two dogs would welcome this new little addition to the pack, we scheduled a meet-and-greet to allow the pups to get acquainted. While there were a few skirmishes, there was no outright aggression, and Lacy actually seemed to enjoy walking through the neighborhood with Penny by her side. The signs were good that Penny would be a nice fit in our family.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Penny was a well-behaved dog with the most charming habit of executing ballet steps after doing her business in the grass. She was friendly, smart and completely lovable, but she hadn’t fully recovered from her surgery and was having some difficulty. She needed to be taken outside to potty every couple of hours or she would have an accident. I live just a few minutes away from my job, so I’m fortunate enough to be able to come home at midday to let the dogs out and share my lunch with Louie the parrot. Still, leaving Penny alone for four or five hours at a time was just too long. Her bedding was always wet and this was causing skin problems on top of everything else. Her lower abdomen was painful. She needed more care than I was able to provide.

The worst part, though, was the reaction of my two dogs. Initially they seemed to be mixing well, but after a few days, it became clear: Lacy and Tanner didn’t want to accept Penny into our pack. Following the butt-sniffing protocol, they would simply walk away from her. It was especially heartbreaking to me because little Penny wanted so much to be included. She tried to romp with Lacy, but Lacy’s reaction was to stop romping. If Lacy were napping on the sofa, Penny would lie down as close as Lacy would allow, but if Lacy noticed the intrusion, she moved to another piece of furniture.

 

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I don’t know if my dogs sensed that Penny was sick and thus kept their distance from her, as dogs sometimes do. But after a week of this, Penny’s health situation seemed to be getting worse, not better. Maybe she was suffering because she felt their rejection. Maybe she missed her foster mom, the angel who nursed her back to health when she was so very ill.

I didn’t want to do the right thing. There’s a part of me that has always sided with the underdog and feels compelled to rescue the lost. I learned a long time ago, in the most painful way possible, that most people just don’t want to be rescued. But dogs do. They tell you with their eyes. I’d grown to love this funny little fox-dog and desperately wanted to keep her with me.

But that was selfish.

Penny had been enjoying a good recovery in her foster home. Her foster family included three small dogs that were friendly to her. Although I loved her and lavished her with affection and attention, I couldn’t give her what her foster family provided. And so Ret, my husband, gently led me to the realization that it was wrong to keep Penny – wrong for Penny and wrong for our two dogs. And so tearfully, I returned Penny to the woman who’d really been her mommy. I pray that she will adopt Penny and give her a secure, forever home.

There’s always a yoga lesson waiting for me, and this time is no exception. The one that springs to my mind here is aparigraha, which is the fifth principle of yama, yoga’s ethical foundation. Aparigraha is usually translated as not coveting or non-greed, a concept that can be expanded to include cultivating gratitude for what one already has and to cease grasping for what one does not have. I’ve heard this all my Catholic girl life: Thou shall not covet.

What began as a desire to make the world a better place for another sentient being became a struggle as I attempted to force a situation that wasn’t right. All the signs were there, beginning with the urgency I felt to adopt another pet when, for many reasons, it was not the best time for us to do so. Add to that the restless feeling that comes from that small place inside that tells me I’m not doing enough, I don’t have enough, I don’t belong. By rescuing someone else, I must be OK.

Ouch. That was hard to say.

Another principle for me to remember is non-attachment. The Bhagavad Gita, a classic scripture of the East, discusses doing one’s duty without concern for what others may say or what reward one may receive, to perform the work joyfully, for its own sake and with no expectation. I struggle with this. I want my good deeds to be recognized and appreciated. I think we all do, at least to some degree.

As it happened, I received not one, but two, rewards for my actions. Little Penny reacted joyfully to the sight of her foster mom, running to her and showering her with puppy kisses – what a comfort that was to me! Upon returning home without Penny, I was greeted with another happy sight. During the time that Penny lived with us, Lacy and Tanner had lost their usual zest and became strangely moody and withdrawn. Now, for the first time in days, they were jumping up and down and barking excitedly, unable to contain themselves. Why did I think they weren’t enough? I am so lucky to be surrounded by all this furry love.

I’ll sign off for now. My dogs want to go for a walk.

Remembering Greta

Four years ago today, I kissed this sweet, elderly little schnauzer goodbye and released her to chase butterflies in heaven. I’ve been thinking about her all day.

This is Greta, also known as Greta Garbanzo Bean, Honey Girl and my little Fräulein. She became my dog unexpectedly seven years ago: one Saturday afternoon, I went to Pet Supermarket to buy food for my parrot right in the middle of an adoption event. Overlooked by the crowd of people interested in the puppies and kittens, Greta was alone in a small gated area, sitting quietly, almost willing me to walk over to her. Without considering the consequences, that’s just what I did. And I fell in love.

Falling in Love with a Shelter Dog

I was not looking for a dog that day. My house was already pretty full with two other dogs, two sons and a parrot. But when I looked into the soft eyes beneath those bushy eyebrows, I saw something there – I saw a soul. I don’t know how else to describe it. This dog looked back at me with eyes that knew me. She didn’t jump up and down or bark excitedly. She just gazed at me with love in her eyes. I returned the gaze and took her home. I thought, foolishly, that I would foster her until I could find another home for her. I mean, how many sane people do you know with three dogs and a noisy bird? I just couldn’t let her go back to the animal shelter.

I named her Greta, after my very first childhood dog, another salt-and-pepper schnauzer just like her.

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Doggie laughter

Getting to Know Greta

I learned Greta had been rescued from a high-kill shelter in Atlanta, but that’s all that was known about her. After I took her to my veterinarian I learned much more. My new dog was at least seven or eight years old (I think she was closer to ten), had a peculiar heart condition and was missing several teeth. It didn’t matter. I adored Greta and so did my boys. She had a strong, solid body and moved around the house like a little tank. She made the strangest puppy noises when she was happy, bossed the other dogs around and loved nothing better than to hang out in the bonus room with the kids and their friends. It was clear she’d been someone’s beloved pet at one time in her life; she walked beautifully on a leash and knew how to behave in the car. And every time Greta looked in my eyes, she seemed to be saying, “I love you so much. Thank you.”

Rescue dogs are such a mystery. They come to you with all their past hurts and fears, experiences about which you know nothing. Every time I walked Greta, if a child was anywhere in the vicinity, she would literally drag me over to the child. Then she’d sit patiently, just like the day I met her, graciously accepting the little one’s clumsy affection. Once we were back on our way, she always seemed to have a little spring in her step. Obviously there had been children in Greta’s past life. What was the rest of her story? She’d lie on her back some days and just wave her paws delightedly in the air, grateful to be alive and have a home. I’d ask her, “What happened to you, Honey Girl? How did anyone ever give you up?” I’ll never know.

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Greta preparing for meditation

During the time Greta graced my life, lots of things changed. My marriage ended. My kids moved out on their own. I made a new life. In the midst of the uncertainty (and sometimes chaos), Greta was unflappable. She helped me pack. She sat with me while I cried. She watched football with me. And when I met Ret, the man I would later marry, she loved him too.

Greta’s Illness

It was during the flurry of our wedding plans that Greta’s health began to fail. She was losing her vision, her body was bloated and she was becoming incontinent. Sometimes she seemed disoriented. I was overwhelmed with a monster project at work. My elder son had just joined the Navy, moving a thousand miles away, and the pain of missing him was acute.  To say I was preoccupied would be an understatement.

Ret and I agonized over what to do for Greta. I didn’t want to torture her with treatments that wouldn’t save her life. So we decided to just keep her comfortable for as long as possible and prayed that it would be a long time. And then, I made a decision that I regret to this day.

At the time, I held a service position in an organization and it was time for an important assembly. Members of the group were depending on me to travel to the meeting to represent them and I didn’t want to let them down. I felt so conflicted; I knew my garbanzo bean was struggling, but I told myself she would be fine. Ret would be with her. I went to the meeting, did my duty and came home the next afternoon.

A Painful Decision

Greta had not done well in my absence. Ret cared for her in the most loving fashion but it was becoming hard to pretend that she would be all right. She wouldn’t eat. She was confused by her water bowl and unable to move around much on her own. The next day, when I came home for lunch, I found her lying unconscious in her own puddle.

My heart broke. This proud, feisty little dog didn’t deserve to be left in that state. And she didn’t deserve to be alone when she died. We decided to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge. She’s resting now beneath a tree in our back yard. Four years later, I still miss my Greta terribly.

Which brings me to the point – actually two points – of this post, besides sharing this wonderful dog with you. I will always regret that I wasn’t home with Greta during her last weekend. I knew how ill she was but I let other people’s expectations of me get in the way of what I believed in my heart was right. Looking back, I wish I’d stayed home from work on her last day, too. Because although the group and the job were high priorities, life and love always matter more. My heart knows this. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to it.

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Greta and Me, 2011

I will never have a regret like this again.

And the second point is this: I knew when I adopted this aging dog that I would not have her for long. But still I did it. And I’d do it again. How often does a regular citizen get to save a life?

Actually, I did do it again. I’ll introduce you to Tanner, our newest pup, in another post.

I miss you, my little Fräulein. You are forever in my heart.