Monday, August 25, 2008

In Memory of LadyBug, 12/4/98 - 8/11/08

I got lucky the day I asked about fostering a dog for Pet Haven. After answering a lot of questions about what kind of dog I was looking for (large, older okay, housetrained a huge plus), what my household was like (it included me, a bunch of cats and a bossy German Shepherd Dog), how much time I would be able to spend with the dog (a lot – I work from home), a couple of weeks passed.

One afternoon, I got a call from one of the volunteers. They had a dog in mind for me. Would I take a seven year old Collie/Samoyed mix who was being surrendered because her family was moving to a place that did not allow dogs? “She’s a 90 pound female” and "a very nice dog". Big dog? Good dog. We needed a dog big enough not to be pushed around by Daisy, the crabby Shepherd.

A few days later, a Pet Haven volunteer delivered my foster dog. I opened the door to that December night and in walked a pure white dog who was not fazed by the hysterical German Shepherd. The volunteer didn’t stay long, as Daisy can be quite loud and unpleasant when someone comes to the door. And, she’d never had a new D.O.G. come to the door before.

My foster dog, named Lady, was polite and quiet. After Daisy barked her head off for an hour while poor Lady stayed in the kennel, I let the new girl out. Daisy seemed so proud – she had a new friend, someone to follow around, someone to herd! After that relatively easy introduction, Lady fit companionably into the routine of our household. She tolerated being second in command, was grateful for her meals and showed almost no interest in the resident cats.

I truly was planning to foster. I thought perhaps I would have several dogs come through my house and eventually one would stay. This big white dog was so easy to have around, though, and being seven years old and overweight did not make her a sought-after adoptee. We went to a couple of adoption events together and I was inching towards adopting her.

The clincher was when I brought her home from a vet appointment. Daisy greeted us at the door and for the first time in her two years paid no attention to me. She was so excited to see Lady that there was no way I was letting that dog leave my household.

Once the papers were signed and Lady was in her forever home, things changed. Like her name. It became LadyBug or simply Bug. And she did chase cats and she barked. She and Daisy had a pattern to their barking. They would alternate barks. Rather than a hysterical, out-of-control dog barking, it was a controlled, almost musical, barking.

At my vet’s insistence, and against LadyBug's better judgment, she went on a diet and lost weight. A lot of weight. Thirty five pounds. From a sedentary dog who had trouble getting up on her feet to a lively girl who leapt with all four feet off the ground when encouraging me to get her food ready more quickly, LadyBug seemed to have taken years off her life.

She chased squirrels, caught a mouse, a rabbit, a squirrel. My big white girl a large hole in my garden so she could lay comfortably in the summer heat. Her heavy coat made her a winter dog, who loved to be outside in nearly any snowy or cold weather.

The best times were late in the evenings when everyone was tired from a long, happy day. Bug would be on the couch next to me, content with her place in the world. And I was delighted to have such a pretty, sweet dog in my life.

It wasn’t all perfect. There were problems, some annoying, for example a six-month period where she decided that the basement was as good a place as the backyard to eliminate; and some frightening, when she and Daisy had a couple of confrontations over wild animals who foolishly came into our fenced yard.

Sometimes it was just plain silly, like when I decided that my nine year old dog was a good candidate for obedience training. LadyBug’s interest in heeling, coming when called and sitting on command were minimal. She did a great ‘down’, though, and probably would have been happy to maintain that ‘down’ through the whole class….until she smelled treats.

A couple of weeks ago, LadyBug got sick very suddenly. We had spent a couple of fun hours at my friend’s lake home, Daisy, LadyBug, Rusty and me. Bug coughed up some blood. In the next couple of hours, it got worse. At the U of M’s emergency room, I learned that she had cancer and her prognosis was poor. I made the decision to euthanize my Pretty Bug to spare her any further agony. It was a matter of hours, literally, from thinking we had all the time in the world to realizing that the good times were over for good.

Life goes on. Daisy and Rusty have adjusted. Daisy no longer looks around expectantly when I open the door to the backyard, wondering where her friend is, but I still think LadyBug should be laying on the couch when I come in, or barking at me for a treat.

I miss the big white dog who came to me by chance. I miss her dance when she wanted her dinner. I miss her barking at nothing. I even miss the big white dust bunnies that I used to find all over the house.

Life goes on. There will be other dogs in my life, maybe even a big, gentle, stubborn white dog with long, coarse fur, but there will never be another LadyBug.

1 comment:

Bernie Berlin said...

There are never replacements for the dogs that come into our life..
Only more who are just as special with their own qualities and traits that touch our hearts and we are never the same when they leave their marks on our hearts and lives....

Just found your blog:)