Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Last Ride

Beryl was hiding under the deck again this morning. Still not eating. She has always loved riding in the car, though, so when I came out and said, "Let's go for a ride!", she hustled her arthritic booty over to the car looking livelier than she has in months.

Beryl came to us by serendipity - the way most of our animals come. My husband had taken one of our cats to the vet for its shots and he heard puppy-cries from the back area. He asked to see and fell in love with the whole box. Apparently someone had left a box full of newborn puppies in the forest. A jogger came upon them and brought the box to the vet's office. They were so little! Their eyes weren't even open yet. The vet estimated them to be 7 to 10 days old. My husband came home to see if we could have another dog (we just had Niki at that point). I said I'd look when I took the next cat for its shots the next day. Well, I fell in love too and had to pick one. One puppy was all dark brown except for white toes and a little white goatee. Susie at the vet's office called her "Tippy-Sue". Tippy-Sue came home with me in the second week of November 1995 and was promptly renamed Beryl.

Hubby and I had gotten married in April of '95, moved into our mobile home in the woods in August, and hosted our first family Thanksgiving that year. My mother-in-law sat in the rocking chair with Beryl on her shoulder, rocking and crooning most of the afternoon. I asked - was this a hint for grandchildren? She closed her eyes and rocked... maybe, maybe.

Beryl was a most excellent dog. She loved to play and never really outgrew being a puppy at heart. Frisbee was her favorite and she would chase and jump after the thing for hours - until we would have to hose her down to cool her off. Her love of frisbee resulted in an ACL injury that ended her frisbee days, but she didn't care - as long as we'd still throw the ball! She was terrified of thunderstorms. Before she was a year old, she and Niki were our bike dogs. It used to irritate us no end when they would be running along behind us in the forest then take off after a deer. We'd be standing around yelling and yelling for them, and when they finally showed up looking so happy and smiley, we couldn't really be mad at them. On trip to the woods, Beryl didn't come back. My husband looked for her for hours, trailed by Niki who would occasionally woof. She stayed lost for 4 days, during which there was a severe thunderstorm that really pounded the forest she was in. We'd papered all the houses in the area, and on the 4th day, a retired preacher called to say our puppy had wandered up to his dogs and eaten their food. Our baby was home.

She was also a cat hero. She's alerted us numerous times to sick cats, cats in danger, cats stuck up a tree. I happened to be working at home one day when French was fairly new and Beryl started barking in the front yard. She would NOT shut up. I looked out the window - nothing. More barking. I went to the front door to yell at her to shut up, but as soon as I opened the door, Beryl went quiet and I heard a strangled-sounding meow. French had fallen in the inflatable pool and couldn't get out. In fact, that meow was the last one before he went under. I grabbed him off the bottom of the pool and wrapped him in a towel, massaging him until he got back to normal.

Beryl had a long, wonderful life. She was loving and sweet and I had to respect her when she told me she was ready to go. The last thing I wanted was to have my girl suffering, so today, we took her to the vet. Z-boy's first witness to death. Hubby came too. He scratched her ears, I held her massive head and talked to her. Z started sobbing and said he couldn't take it and went out. Then he came back. Dr. Saunders gave the shot and Beryl relaxed into my hands. Z said that her eyes looked weird and I told him that it was because she wasn't there anymore. We all cried and said our goodbyes.

One our way back to get my husband's truck from work, we were stopped by a train. The guys got out to get a closer view of the train going by. It was a nice breather from life. This was about three blocks from the vet's office and we were still reeling.

I ran to the store after dropping Z-boy off at home with his dad, and when I came back, there was a new baby horse that had just been born a block away. It was still on the ground, and Momma horse was just getting up. I went home and got Z and brought him to see. By then the baby was on its feet and wobbling around its mother. Amazing how fast they go from helpless to walking. The baby is the same color as Beryl.

Circle of life.


Alice in Wonderbread said...

yup, circle of life.
no one escapes death and it's all natural and nothing to be afraid of or avoid.

When I was 18 I didn't hold my dog when he died- the rest of the family did. Like Z I couldn't take it. I wanted to not see the shell that was my Rusty, the thought was unbearable.

Sayre said...

I have always been comfortable with putting my animals to sleep. When I was 12 and thinking that I wanted to be a vet, I volunteered at the vet's office near our house. I participated in surgeries, cleaned cages, fed animals and held many, many animals as they were put to sleep. I saw how peaceful it was and what a blessing it is when an animal is old and in pain.

The vet I got to now is the same one I worked for that summer. He has already offered Z-boy a place if he ever wants to do this. He's been with me and my animals forever and I am not looking forward to the day he decides to retire.