|Nellie her first year home|
Well, not really. It all started when we brought the girls home. They hadn't been here long before we realized every kid really should get to grow up with a dog. I was a vaguely known entity in the local animal rescue community, had helped re-home a few before, so I imagined one would come our way. And one probably would've, but then I saw this ad:
Female black lab mix free to good home. Has shots. Spayed.
Ads like this bother me. First of all, I don't like to think of any creature being rejected. Secondly, "free" animals around here are all too often sacrificed to fights. Combine all that with an early childhood spent with labs, and you can guess what happened next. I made the call, and we haven't looked back since.
Nellie is...was...to my kids what my dog, Misty, was to me. Misty was not a lab, but rather an Australian Shepherd we got when I was young, sometime after Barnaby, who was a lab, was lost to complications of Parvo. Despite her fear of cows (admittedly not a great feature in a herding dog on a beef farm!) and one entirely too-close call with a passing car, Misty lived a long, full life. She was smart, funny, and occasionally brave – at least when it came to defending her red pick-up truck! Most of all, she was my constant companion, a girl's best friend. More than one chapter of my life closed when, during my senior year of college, she finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
My kids had that with Nellie. My son, a high school freshman, has never known family life without her. My oldest is a junior in college, their sister a senior in high school. Like me and Misty, they've literally grown up together.
|Nellie going gray|
I've said before that it is hard enough to lose a pet, that it's a thousand times worse to see your kids losing one too. I imagine most of my readers know such pain entirely too well. So rather than dwell on it, I thought I'd share a few snapshots that reveal Nellie as she
- Whining from inside her crate at our lion-maned cat as, dangling from the top, he taunted her.
- Stealing a bologna sandwich and swallowing it whole.
- Standing at the back door barking, usually around midnight, her hair –and mine!– standing on end.
- Basking in the admiration of friends, strangers, and passers-by: "Look! There's a dog at Niagara Falls, and it's smiling!"
- Taking off hell-bent into the woods, hot on Cooper's and later Roxie's tail, even if we suspect she rarely knew what she was chasing.
Nellie and Roxie
- Sheepishly belly-crawling back into our yard after sneaking off for a bite or two of new-lain horse apple or stinking fresh green cow pie.
- Getting skunked, and good, right smack in the face.
- Looking at me mournfully through yet another round of wormer – she never could quit those pasture snacks!
- Curling by my feet as I slept fitfully on the couch, keeping vigil through another night of illness, usually hers, sometimes the kids' or mine.
- Leaning on my knee, gazing up goofily with her snaggle tooth and her bugged-out eyes.
- Snoring. Clicking toenails. Clandestine crunching of cat food. It's way too quiet now.
I know this post needs some kind of end, but I've had about enough of things coming to an end here in black cat land, so let's just say to be continued. We'll catch the rest when we meet again, somewhere across the Rainbow Bridge.