Monday, April 14, 2008
It started out like a normal year.
The summer before we had gone to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and enjoyed the beautiful weather, warm sunny days and cool nights. We saw lots of elk and got close up and personal with a moose. He was a full grown bull moose that had been orphaned as a baby. The people at the lodge raised him and he hung around greeting tourists. This time he had his mate and young with him, but they kept their distance.
My Mom taught me to knit when I was five years old. I found myself with lots of yarn leftover from various projects. Sometimes there's enough to make another project, but if not, I make blankets for a local animal shelter. The dogs don't mind strange color combinations and it uses up the odds and ends. They can be made in any size. Lots of times the little dogs get a blanket, but the big boys would like something to make into a comfy nest, so I try to make nice roomy blankets for them, too. Here are a few ready for delivery.
One day in July my neighbor called. She was getting ready for a party and a Golden Retriever and her pup showed up in her yard. The mother dog was obviously sick. She appeared to be weak from starvation, but the pup was in good condition. I went over to help and the pup ran up to me. As soon as the mother saw that we were taking care of her pup, she ran off, possibly to die. We looked around the neighborhood, but never saw her again.
The pup was about three months old and part German Shepard from his appearance. He was too thin, and covered with fleas, but over all in pretty good shape. We took him to our yard, fed him, treated him for fleas, then took him to our Vet. We checked for a microchip or tatoo, but there was none. We started him on his vaccines and wormed him. We checked with neighbors and the local shelter, but nobody seemed to be looking for him. They may have been dropped off.
We called him Winston and he was a sweet pup. That is not a halo in the picture, just a well placed chew toy. He fit right into the household. Monty accepted him and Morgan thought it was great to have another playmate. Bentley didn't really care anymore and Lucy was annoyed that we would bring another big dog into the house. She would like to have someone smaller than she to boss around.
My Aunt and Uncle had lost their dog in the spring. He was a very old Border Collie and they were without a dog for the first time in many years. I thought Winston might be the perfect dog for them. We would foster him until October, then they would come for a weekend and if they all liked each other, he would go live with them.
Morgan was growing fast but would level out around 36 pounds. She could sure grow hair, and it had a twisty curl that made it very hard to brush. We had her groomed, but for a dog that liked to play in the water and roll in the dirt, it wasn't a practical hairdo.
The morning of September 11, 2001, Rob left for work around 6AM. I decided to go back to bed. The phone woke me. It was our friend in Boston calling to tell me to turn on the television, New York was under attack. I tuned in just in time to see the second plane fly into the World Trade Center. I tried to call Rob, but he was in class and had his phone turned off. A friend that I had worked with in Syracuse now lived in Manhattan and worked in the World Trade Center. Two of Rob's cousins were NYC police.
Then a plane hit the Pentagon. Our next door neighbor and friend in Maryland worked in the Pentagon. I kept trying Rob, but no answer. Then a plane went down in Western Pennsylvania, not far from where we had lived when we were first married. I was scared, worried about our friends and I wanted my husband home. I kept dialing, but no answer. I called my family in New York to make sure everyone was accounted for. They were all safe, but I couldn't get through to Rob's family in the city.Finally, Rob called. They had made an announcement in school and he had gone to the office and was watching the news. He agreed to come right home.
It took us days to find out if our family and friends were safe. They all were. We received many wonderful e-mails from people around the world who knew we were from New York and wanted to share our grief. I've kept them in a book.
Bentley was getting worse. He struggled to get up and down and if I saw him trying, I'd give him a hand. He couldn't do steps without help and when walking in the yard he would fall. He never complained and would just try to get up again. We walked very slowly with him and kept the younger dogs away so they wouldn't knock him over. His tail wagged constantly, even though he must have been in terrible pain most of the time. He still had a good appetite and was interested in what was going on around him. We would harness him in the car so he didn't fall and take him out for an ice cream cone, one of his favorite things.
October came and the weekend with my Aunt and Uncle was coming up. I realized I didn't want to part with Winston. I was prepared to keep him, but when I saw how pleased my Aunt was with him and how well he accepted them, I let him go. It was over a year before I saw Winston again. We were visiting them and I was sitting on the sofa when they let him in from the back yard. He vaulted over the back of the sofa into my lap and covered me with doggy kisses. I guess he remembered me. I think he was thanking me for giving him this opportunity for a good life. Winston spends the winter in Myrtle Beach, the summer here in Missouri on a goat farm and the autumn in New York visiting the rest of my family. It's a good life. I see him each summer when he comes here for a goat show. He still resembles a German Shepard in the face, but he has the long coat of a Golden Retriever. He's a very handsome fellow.
Boo continued to get worse. By the middle of November, he needed help standing up. When he wanted to get up I would lift him to his feet and walk with him wherever he needed to go. He couldn't do stairs at all and I carried him up and downstairs. He began to have accidents in the house because it took him so long to stand and walk to the door. Bentley had always had a great deal of dignity and it was so sad to see his struggle to move around.
Outside Bentley could manage only a few steps, then his legs would give way and he would fall. He always tried to get back up, even though he needed help. Then, on December 17, he wanted to go out. I carried him down the steps and stood him on the lawn. He took three steps and fell, but this time he didn't try to get back up. He looked at me and whimpered. I knew what it meant. The tail had stopped wagging and he made no attempt to stand, he began to moan, the first time he had ever complained. I carried him inside and called the Vet.
We put pillows in the back of the car and laid Boo on them, then we drove to the ice cream shop and bought him a chocolate cone with nuts and sprinkles. We sat in the Vet's parking lot and held the cone while he devoured it. Then we walked into the clinic. Our Vet came to meet us at the door and offered to carry Boo in, but he wanted to walk, so we all walked very slowly into the exam room. Rob couldn't stand it and left the room, but I told Boo how much I loved him ad held him while the Doctor administered the injection. Then the Doctor cut off a lock of Boo's curly hair for me, I went to the car and cried all the way home. My heart was broken.