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Annie Stayed

Grieving. Grieving heavily. It was Annie. Annie who has been with me through it all, quiet, loving, never complaining, always in the background as if to say, “I’m here if you need me but I’ll just let you get through it until you do.” Annie, who let me use her for a pillow, drape my legs over her to take a nap, who stepped aside when Boone came in and just let him be the number one dog, knowing that she would just BE THERE hanging out waiting for when I needed her. Annie, who let me cry into her fur and hold her and just sat patiently while I did. Annie, who was scared of everyone else but Tom, Kaity and me, but knew, completely knew, that we would protect her and never let anyone hurt her again.

Annie appeared about ten years ago. We were living on a farm in Richmond, Ky. I went outside to see Kaity petting this furry red puppy, a true redhead, who had come up the driveway. She sat by Kaity, but wouldn’t let me near her. She was scared, scared to death. 

“Can I keep her Mommy?”

“You’ll have to ask your Dad, and you know how that will go.” He wasn’t a dog person. Never was. Never would be.

Kaity named her Annie. “Because she has red hair and she’s an orphan.”

He came home from work that day and true to form demanded that Annie be taken to the pound. I have such a vivid picture of little Kaity sitting out by the fire pit, puppy Annie by her side, sobbing. But Annie stayed. Annie stayed through it all.

Annie was shy. Not by nature, half-Chow, but by life, abused before we got her. It was obvious immediately. For the first several months, she would only let Kaity near her. She jumped, ran and hid at the slightest noise. To get her to go through a door you had to stand way back and hold it wide open (Did they kick her going out of doors?). She would easily let any of the other dogs take anything away from her. Nothing was worth arguing about to Annie. She was a puppy but never played. Toys were just an excuse for another dog to come near her and she wanted no part of that.  I promised her, as long as I had breath in my body, no one would ever hurt her again. Annie just stayed.

She flourished at the farm, running through fields and through woods, with Zoey, then Izzabel. Never the leader, always the follower, always careful, they chased cows, brought home an array of dead animals, caught frogs, swam in the pond and smiled, always smiled—happy dogs.

Annie stayed through a succession of other dogs. Toby, who lived a long wonderful life, whose life was prolonged by moving to the farm, died an old man of 15 in my arms of congestive heart failure. And while I grieved, it was Toby’s time.

Zoey... I went to the store, I was only gone an hour, and when I came back my first words to Annie were, “Annie, why are you here and Zoey isn’t?” That launched a several month search for Zoey, heartrending, only to finally find her decomposing on the railroad tracks. We think she was poisoned or got into poison somewhere. Annie was there.

Jenny Lynn, who was mean, who locked her jaws on Annie’s back over a bone and I had to pry away. Jenny Lynn DID go to the pound. I hope they put her down. We loved her, but she was mean and would eventually hurt someone. Rocky, the Dalmation from down the road. His owner, a young guy, was beating him so badly that Rocky came up the driveway one day just dragging his hips behind him. I found a Dalmation rescue for Rocky. He went to live on the beach in North Carolina. The woman sent me one picture, of Rocky in a fire truck in a parade. We did good by Rocky. And Izzabel, who, when I fled Richmond, got thrown into the backseat of a car to go live with new owners, a horrible thing to do to her, but something we thought we had to do at the time. And through all of that, there was Annie, quiet, shy and scared. But Annie stayed.

The first time Tom met Annie, he quietly crouched down and just looked at her. He didn’t reach out to her, he didn’t try to pet her, he didn’t say anything to her, he just looked at her on her level. She immediately trusted him. From his past owning wolves, he said. She saw the wolf spirit in him and trusted him. Immediately, Annie decided he was okay, he would never hurt her, and she loved him.

When I left Richmond for Fort Wayne, Annie had to stay behind. Kaity wasn’t coming with me, I thought she would need Annie in my absence and our landlady didn’t allow dogs. Izzabel had a new home. Annie couldn’t go anywhere.  Annie would be too scared. She’d never trust new people. It would terrify her. So Tom and I left Annie there. A few months later, Kaity called and said Rich once again wanted Annie to go to the pound. Annie couldn’t go to the pound, she was too shy and scared. They’d put her down. People adopt the cute puppies who lick their faces and bound into their laps. Not a middle-aged Chow mix who cowers in a corner scared half to death. We talked the landlady into letting us have her. Annie came home. And Annie stayed.

She was scared in that house. We had a lot of company there, Tom’s kids, their friends, other friends. She spent months in that house lying on the floor behind our bed. It was safe there. But when no one was there, Annie for the first time was TOP DOG. For the first time there were no other dogs for her to stay behind for, just Annie. As my bond with Tom grew, so did our bond as a family, Tom, me and Annie, and Kaity when she came to visit. Annie was safe. And she stayed.

We moved to Bloomington and got Boone there. Annie needed a friend. Boone was her baby. He’d sleep cuddled up by her. They’ve been inseparable. Even though Boone is now twice Annie’s size he was her boy. But still, true to form for Annie, she took a back seat to Boone. When we’d pet her and big lug Boone would push her out of the way, Annie just went and lay down. There was nothing worth arguing about to Annie. If you got them each a bone and Boone took both of them—that was fine with Annie. Not worth arguing about. Annie was so safe with us. She’d lie in the hallway and just let you step over her to get by. No worries. Tom and I would never hurt Annie. Annie stayed.

She blossomed when we came back to Kentucky and moved into this house. She had a nice yard. There are three other dogs here who came to visit every day. She had horses to watch and make friends with, she had Boone. She had Kaity back who visits often. She started doing things that she’d never done!!! Things that most people take for granted out of their dogs. Annie barked at us! Annie barked because she wanted something! That was amazing. Annie never did that. We even called our friend Kerry to tell him, “Hey! Guess what! Annie barked at us!” Annie and Boone had a wrestling match every night in the floor. Annie played? Annie had never played. I caught her one night with one of Boone’s toys tearing the stuffing out of it. Annie never touched a toy. We weren’t sure what it was but Annie felt safe here. For the first time in her life, she felt completely safe and started to relax.

When I would come in the door after work, Boone would always come to greet me.  Annie would be somewhere else in the house. I’d say, “Where’s Annie, Boone? Did you eat her?” And Annie would come walking out.

Last weekend, I saw Annie squatting in the yard to potty. I thought she was constipated. I fed her some fat off of a roast, thinking it would help her. On Monday, I asked Tom to just kind of keep an eye out and see if she went potty. She was walking with her tail tucked between her legs, obviously she wasn’t herself. On Tuesday, she still didn’t seem like Annie. By Thursday, she started running a temperature. I put her on the couch, covered her up, watched her, hugged her and loved her. We decided come hell or high water, whether we had the money for it or not, she would go to the vet on Friday to see what was going on. Was it possibly a urinary tract infection? On Thursday night, Annie kept going back in the back bedroom and hallway to lie down. She never, ever goes back there. I told her, “If you’re looking for a place to die, don’t do it. I need you. You’ll go to the vet tomorrow. Don’t you die on me.”

Tom got up Friday to take Annie to the vet. She was in extreme pain. He called me at work and told me to get there as fast as I could. I flew. I was texting people, calling people on the way. Annie is dying. I’m on my way.

Annie’s bladder was full of calcium stones. Sometime Thursday night, while we slept Annie’s bladder exploded in her body. There were paths of blood where she walked the house and looked for a place to die. She wouldn’t get us up and tell us, that’s not Annie. I held Annie in my arms, with Tom, while they put a needle in her and stopped her pain. I paid money, good money, to kill my Annie.

We took her to the farm in Richmond. That’s where Annie belonged. I was ready to find out who lived there and beg them to let us bury Annie there with Zoey and Toby. She needs to run the fields, chase the cows, play in waterfalls and swim in the pond. Kaity was rushing to meet us there. When we got to the farm, it was for sale and vacant. Tom dug a heart shaped hole for our Annie. And there she rests. There Annie will stay, because Annie always stayed.

I listen for the sound of her nails on the floor. I look for her around the house. Boone is lost. Tom is heartbroken, as is Kaity. We are tearing ourselves apart wondering if we could have saved her if we’d done something sooner.

Annie always stayed. What will we do without our Annie?

News: Guest Posts
Where to Bury a Good Dog
An 86-year-old poem that rings true today
cherry tree blossom

A friend sent this poem to me, knowing how much I miss my beloved Desoto and Shelby. I had been holding onto their ashes, unsure of where to bury my good dogs. Shall I scatter them into the Louisiana swamps that Desoto loved to explore? Would Shelby be happiest under the big tree, watching for squirrels? This poem tells me they're already in the right place. —Julia Kamysz Lane

 

 

Where To Bury A Dog
By Ben Hur Lampman

There are various places within which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.

For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost—if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call—come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there.

People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

Culture: Tributes
Toby’s Way [Video]
Scenes from the life of a Chesapeake Bay retriever/therapy dog

Toby, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, lived life big and left paw prints on hearts around the world. He was also the star of the book On Toby’s Terms and Toby the Pet Therapy Dog. This video capture’s some of his finest moments—loving life!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Brick Memorials
Loving reminders of dogs

The brick says “Remembering Kiwi: 125 Pounds of Love” and it’s part of a wall of bricks outside DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Ore. My brother-in-law and my sister purchased the brick in 2007 to honor their Newfoundland who passed away at age 11½ in April of that year. Kiwi was a great dog and I loved her, so the sight of her brick brought me both joy and sadness.

There are benefits of physical memorials to the dogs who remain in our hearts but no longer walk beside us every day, at least not in the literal sense. The tangible reminder of a loved one has great value, which is why gravestones as well as notices in the paper and even decals on cars mention those who have left us. In the case of Kiwi’s brick and others like it, a charitable contribution to buy the memorial goes to DoveLewis. Though a pet may be gone, honoring them with a contribution is a way to know that the love they inspired continues to give hope and lifesaving help to other pets.

Whether it required a contribution or not, do you have a tangible reminder of your deceased dog?

Culture: Tributes
Eulogy for Sandy

It was the day after Christmas, and I came running outside to feed Sandy our nine-month-old Beagle, on a cold morning.

Usually, Sandy came out by her kennel door eager to greet me, but today it was different. She slowly walked over to me.

Knowing something was wrong; I came in her kennel and started petting her and looking her over. She looked up into my face. Poor girl, I thought. Then Sandy started coughing. Great, I thought. Sandy has kennel cough.

Of the few dogs I have had in my life I never had one sick, but from doing dog research in the past I figured that was what it was. Just kennel cough. Little did I know how wrong I was.

Two days later Sandy was worse. She ate little food—and for Beagles that is very rare—and was not active at all. She would just watch as a ball rolled by her nose and lay down when we tried to get her into a game of dog tag.

My mom said to bring her in my room, where it was warmer and away from the Washington cold and wind.

I was glad to have Sandy inside where I could keep my eye on her, and I think she was too. Instead of exploring my room, she just lay on her dog bed and followed me with her eyes. I figured Sandy would get better, but later that evening Sandy coughed up blood. Immediately, I knew something was seriously wrong. This was not kennel cough. Doing some research, I found Sandy had all the symptoms of rat poisoning.

Sandy had gotten into some rat poisoning somehow, and now she was sick, and possibly dying.

I immediately prayed to God, “Lord, don’t take her away.” Please let her get better. There was nothing more we could do until morning, when we would take her in to Kulshan Veterinarian Hospital.

That evening I didn’t sleep much. I was too worried about Sandy and afraid that she would die while I was asleep. She was breathing hard and I wished I could do something to help her, but I could do nothing.

Later that night, I stayed up and held her in my lap. “Don’t die Sandy,” I gently whispered to her. “Don’t.”

Eventually, I did go to sleep and I woke up early the next morning. I quickly got dressed and then to make Sandy more comfortable I slipped her red collar off.

Waiting for my mom in the van I prayed, and hoped that Sandy would get better.

“Maybe it’s not as serious as we think,” my mom encouraged as we drove to the vets. I hoped she was right.

However after the vet looked her over, she said that Sandy’s condition was very serious and that they could do surgery, but it wouldn’t guarantee if she would make it. I knew we didn’t have the money for that, and I knew that she would have to be put to sleep.

“Good-bye, Sandy,” I said quietly as the vet took Sandy out of the room. A lump began to form in my throat.

As we left the building the lump in my throat grew, knowing I would not see my beloved Beagle again. At home, I cried as I saw Sandy’s red collar on my desk, never to be worn again by our beloved dog.

Even though Sandy is gone, she has left with me some great memories. How she use to run away from us on a trail of a squirrel, how she use to bark until we let her out of her kennel. They were happy memories she has left.

Yes, Sandy is gone, but she was a fun dog to have. Sandy loved everyone and brought a smile to anyone. In the spring, when the weather is warm, I will again be searching for another dog to love and care for, and I look forward to it.

News: Guest Posts
The Gift of Dreams
When our departed dogs return to us for a night

The other night as I drifted off to sleep, I thought about how much I’d love to dream about my dog Lulu, who died in August. I’ve only had one dream about her since then, and it felt like she was back, which means it felt wonderful. But when I woke the following morning, I didn’t have any memory that I’d been successful in my efforts to conjure her.

Later in the day, while my husband and I were out walking our dog Renzo, Charlie mentioned that he’d dreamed about Lulu that night. He said, she had come to the back door and barked to be let in. When he opened the door, she pranced in with a couple packages of Jello mix in her mouth. Then, she produced another package of sausages and danced around her treasures. That’s all he could remember, but it was more than enough to feel right and make us laugh.

Next time, I hope I’m at the door when she stops by.

Culture: Tributes
Sidehill’s Mab
Queen of the Celtic Fairies and Beguiler of Men

“If there are no dogs in Heaven,
then when I die I want to go
where they went.”

Will Rogers, 1897-1935

  Sidehill’s Mab, Queen of the Celtic Fairies and Beguiler of Men, is now gossiping with Dancer Dawg, Roscoe the Ratador, and Buck(le) Bear about the challenges of living with me. They are talking of misplaced leashes, late dinners, damned cats (and more damned cats), hours in the back of the vehicle of the day and walks promised but not taken. I hope they talk about the good times of meeting and greeting at market, gossipy strolls in the ’hood, playing in the lake and at the river and the great snow marches. No doubt they are comparing notes on the numerous beds, mats and comforters they were each given. Since they all ended up on my bed—they can match stories about my snoring, weird sleep habits and my own marathon naps. Mab can flaunt her trips to the beach (she went to both Nag’s Head and Virginia Beach). She can describe chasing the sea gulls to her heart’s delight at both places and winning admirers with her good looks and gracious ways. She came to me a beautifully trained field English Setter and I ruined her, letting her forget most of her training. I spoiled her rotten and she returned the favor. She was my good good dog.

 

Culture: Tributes
In Tribute to Maggie Mae
Maggie Mae is buried – there just beyond my kitchen window

 

Maggie Mae is buried – there just beyond my kitchen window under the summer canopy of ancient apple trees   Appropriate don’t you think? Her round head, round eyes framed in apples, her greeting a dizzying  round go round.               Today the wind picked up             and a dozen apples fell             one split in two revealing             A chambered heart--necessary dark seeds.               At dusk deer will tiptoe hushed             into the palpable shadows             and I will hear her bark bark             at their trespass, will see her run                                     run again, run wily and whole                         first into the tall grasses                         before the sweet turning back                         toward the light of home.

 

Culture: Tributes
Machisma
Doing life on her own terms

“She doesn’t have much time,” my mother said over the phone one April morning, “you should come down this weekend.” My dog, an almost 17-year-old white, coal-eyed Bichon Frise, who had been part of the family since she was four months old, was dying. Whether it was a recently-found tumor or a long-hidden hormonal imbalance, the problem was neurological, and Dr. Cohen told us there was little he could do for her. “If she were my dog,” he said, “I would take her home to be with the  family.” And so my mother did.

Machi started life at my parents’ home, where I still lived as I began my career as a lawyer, saving money to buy my own home. When I moved into a Los Angeles apartment 60 miles away, I took her with me. I was rarely home; the long hours I worked meant she spent most of her time alone. She became flea-bitten and confused by apartment living.

When, two years later, I bought a home a few minutes from my parents’, she hid behind couches and ate an entire bowl of foil-wrapped chocolates, prompting an emergency call to the vet. I was in a troubled relationship and navigating my way through the politics of law firm life. Machi absorbed the stress. Once I yelled at her as I lay crying on my bed and, contrary to my house rules, she tried to climb up to see me. She never forgot that yell, no matter how tightly I held her or how much I apologized afterward. Whoever said dogs live in the moment never knew Machi, whose memory and intelligence were deep.  

Once, on a visit to my parents’ house, as the time to leave came, I looked over at Machi. She was sitting up, looking out the window from beside the chair in which I was sitting. I called her to go home. As I did, she suddenly thrust her head down and pretended to be asleep. I took her home that night but, within the week, I returned her to my parents. It was clear she preferred her childhood home to mine.    

Machi was always her own woman. She loved all of us (my father in particular), but she did what she wanted, when she wanted, on her own terms. She did not, as my mother liked to say, “pander” to anyone. That quality was in fact why I chose her. She was the only one of the litter to squirm off my lap when I tried to hold her. That quality was also how she got her name. Machi was short for Machisma, the female version of machismo.

Machi, sick, lay flat like a rug on my parents’ hardwood floor or the cool limestone of the bathroom. Her remaining joy was to sit outside, with a light breeze ruffling her hair, her body slowly and softly being stroked. It seemed to remind her of her middle years, when she would sit outside alone after dinner, sniffing the breeze. My father used to call it her after-dinner “smoke.”

Machi was a fighter. For years she lived with crippling arthritis and never complained; she just took shorter and slower walks. She accepted what was and kept going. She would never give up, no matter how wracked her body became.

And so, after a particularly painful night, the decision was unanimous. My father, who typically avoided  illness or death, drove us to Dr. Cohen’s. Machi cried out when the needle entered her paw. She looked surprised and perhaps a bit betrayed that we had taken the last thing she had—the fight itself—away from her. All three of us held her.   

The next day, I ran the treadmill, pushing through intense bursts of interval training. On the third interval, I wanted to give up. Then I thought of what Machi would do, and I pressed on.
 

Culture: Tributes
A Short, Sweet Remembrance
Rhea with her favorite

Rhea, happiest with her favorite person! Rhea passed one a week after this picture from cancer. She was almost 13.

--Ernie and Jerry Eppinga, Providence Forge, Va.

 

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