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Too Much Dog – Pets Are Wonderful

April 15, 2013

April was designated Pets Are Wonderful Month but it’s something we celebrate on a daily basis. Our dogs, cats and of course “Kitty” (military macaw) are part of daily life here – but the recent standard was set by Gael. Something I wrote last December seems fitting to share, in her memory, and with server issues yesterday it allowed time for catching up, getting some new things ready to share.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt marred Christmas that year. Just a month before a friend was killed in Iraq, and as many times before, Gael sensed a change. She was more attentive. Then she seemed to be struggling to relieve herself, and Xrays showed a blockage was seen but couldn’t determine the source. She had been by my side for 12 1/2 years. As I left the vet clinic, I reasoned, it was a simple surgery to remove whatever it was she’d gotten into. She’d never been sick.

Through working at the RV park, moving cross country, a bout of homelessness, struggling times she was a constant fixture. She was the road buddy that traveled more than some people. There was no reason to think there wouldn’t be several more years of her as a sidekick for trips.

GaelIL2Except it wasn’t to be. A tumor was found, inoperable the veterinarian said. They could bring her out and she’d have a couple of days until her system shut down, or he could put her to sleep right then. I hope to never make a decision again as difficult as that one.

I thought of her racing across the field after the sheep. Sitting with me on horseback, and her game of protecting the vehicle. She was imperfect. I thought of the little pup that had come to me 12 1/2 years earlier, so tiny I questioned if she would thrive. She was on goat milk for the first six weeks, as I wasn’t sure she’d reach her full size.

Gael2006She may have been on the lower end of size for a border collie but she was all heart. It made her day to head to the barn. If I picked up the keys she was by the door ready to go. She didn’t care if it was to town or across country, she’d charge forward to see what life had in store.

And I couldn’t help but feel I’d somehow let her down as I said goodbye. My head knew that she’d prefer it that way, rather than suffering in her last time, but it didn’t make the decision any easier. She’d been my rock. She kept me warm and safe when camping. She’d been there when people turned away.

It’s been 6-1/2  years, and the memories remain. Missing her has not lessened. She was cremated so even if we moved she wouldn’t be left behind. Over 12 years of good memories remain – and her granddaughter. Life moves on, and as she used to run eagerly to the vehicle, now Missy does the same.

Although she’s missed greatly, the biggest honor is in making a difference for other dogs, giving those second chances and imperfect dogs a home. We’ve taken in four of them…they never knew her, but benefit greatly from her lessons of forgiveness and acceptance.

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