Back in 1997, I had a growing son and I had some health problems, and -- somehow -- these two factors coalesced into the need/desire to add a puppy to our household. I always lament these decisions because it adds an inevitable day like last Thursday to your life.
Briefly, we resolved to rescue a puppy from an animal shelter here in Southern California and made plans to visit no less than five this one day to survey all of the prospects and repair home to analyze and make a measured decision, etc.
Long story short, in THE VERY FIRST PLACE we walked into, there were two young girls who were dropping off someone they found at a swap meet in Pasadena with her brothers and sisters a week ago. (They had managed to give away all but this one.) She was an adorable little black mixed-breed (mostly Greyhound) who melted our hearts from the very start.
Thus ended our search and Alice -- as she was named by my son -- became part of our family.
Since we did not know her official birthday, we backdated her life and ascribed Thanksgiving as the special day. Each year we would have roast beef and she would get the bone as a birthday present. I guess, at first, we eschewed the traditional turkey for a change and then this tradition stuck with us as a coincidental celebration of Alice's birthday.
She was graceful, sleek, could run like the wind (her Greyhound heritage), and spent the better part of her life in good health with a cheerful spirit. Each morning I would wrestle with my son over the necessity of walking and feeding her. Somehow his activities would conspire such that the walking fell to me and the feeding fell to his mom. But it was a duty I undertook, once engaged, with great cheer. And, for the record, when he walked Alice, he did cheerfully for he loved Alice as much as we.
Alice's and my special times were Saturday and Sunday mornings before the others waked up. She and I would go to a local school yard where I would throw a ball to her for a time and then I would sit beneath a tree while she explored the grounds she had staked out many, many times before.
When she reached the absolute farthest point in that yard she could get from me, she would pause from her sniffing and look up. I would wave to her and she would make the maddest dash you would ever see back to me, stopping a few yards short and incessantly barking until I obliged and threw the ball again for her to chase.
When she tired of that, she would come over and quietly sit by me as I read and relaxed. Presently, we would head back home to rejoin the waking family. The picture above is of her on one of those days.
So, after a life that would seemingly go on forever, last Thursday she lay down, coughed a few times and seemingly stretched out to take a nap..
..and was gone.
I took her to a vet to confirm her passing and was assured there was no pain. My son and friends visited her while she was at her final rest and my mom and sisters and sons (who all knew her) all sent their regrets and sorrow, etc. I must conclude that she was loved and will be missed.
But now the loneliness of a Saturday morning without a walk with her closes in and I must write this.
My hope is that when my time comes, I will go to heaven and that there will be sunny days and a schoolyard close by and a nice tree to sit under..
..and a ball to throw to Alice.