“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”
-Charles M. Schulz
For all the times that I cursed her endless fur and her general Pigpen tendencies, our dog, Madeline, was as good as they get. She had enough hair for two dogs her size - that seemed to gather mulch and dirt and grass - and she was generally a little stinky. She was the sloppiest water drinker ever, and I often thought she was barely domesticated because she would eat anything not pinned down; we had the vet bills to prove it. In her day she was a stellar rabbit hunter, and even in old age she could sleuth out a piece of trash or dead animal with amazing speed. She had a sensitive stomach, which is a poor match for a dog that eats like a goat, and she spent more than a few nights of her 15 years on probation sleeping in the garage or a bathroom. And, yet...
She was loyal in a way that only a dog knows. She only went upstairs to the boys’ rooms a handful of times in her 12 years in this house. They were all when Mark was out-of-town and I was putting the kids to bed. She clearly felt like it was her job, in his absence, to help me keep watch.
She also had the patience of a saint. Sometimes two boys provide love in a way that’s less than gentle and she never once complained. Occasionally the look on her face divulged that she wasn’t totally digging her situation, but she sat and took it every single time.
Mark’s first dog, Cody, was her first love, but in the end she loved Mark best of all. That’s partly because he usually fed her and walked her, but it’s also no doubt because she had some doggy gratitude for being rescued oh, so many years ago.
She was an old girl whose chassis was pretty long for her wheels, and the back two had been slowly failing her for months. Stairs were increasingly difficult and some days just getting up off the floor proved to be a struggle. When she fell last night and couldn’t get up I knew that we were likely at a crossroads. I was home alone with all 80 pounds of her and I couldn’t do much to help. Twelve hours later she still couldn’t move and was visibly, and audibly, in pain. This morning we made the heartbreaking decision to free her of her arthritic back and hips and put her down.
We loved her so very much and she loved us too, without doubt. She was gentle beyond words and was a constant companion in a quiet way that I'm certain no other dog could rival for this family. I hope that in her heaven she and Cody are rollicking and she’ll be eating freshly-caught rabbit by dinner.
We’ll miss her terribly.