Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Our Pet Losses Make Us Wiser: Goodbye Billie

Can anything good come from the pain of a death? 

I believe wisdom is one dividend of our goodbyes. Going through the processes of aging, illness, and end-of-life planning exposes you to new concepts, new systems...and new feelings. The shock and angst of a first close death sends us to depths of sadness, loneliness and sometimes, regrets over what wasn't done or said. 

Several years ago, I had that first experience with a canine companion's death. This winter, wisdom gave me the courage to support Billie in a humane farewell.

Billie, Winter 2015
Middle-aged when we adopted her, Billie's Collie-Sheltie mix drove her love of keeping an eye on the household and the property. 
No better kingdom existed
Every day is a great day
Kibble with yam on the side:  oh yeah!
She took everything as it came: skunks and squirrels, bees on clover, wildflowers and weeds.  We fed her premium food, but a little home cooking always made it to her dish.
She loved a plush green spot
 I called Billie "bravehearted" because she made me feel safe; she defended her family, greeted visitors, and announced her presence at her grandma's assisted living home WITH DEEP AND RESONATING BARKS. More than likely, her bushy "coyote's" tail was swishing with excitement. People often misunderstood her bark, and expected her to have a taste-for-flesh, but that was not the case.
My boss, Dick, didn't hold it against me when, coming over to cut a downed tree into firewood, he was greeted by Billie: she stood on hind legs, paws on his chest...sniffed him and said hello. "Down, Billie!" I cried in disbelief. To his credit, Dick didn't bat an eye.

Returning home with an empty collar and leash (which still rest under the driver's seat of my vehicle,) I thought a walk in the bright cold sun would help my sadness. But fifteen feet down the lane, there were the tracks of Billie's last walk with her Daddy. My heart was pounding; I wondered if I'd done the right thing. I took a couple of phone pictures-- final mementos of a friendship I will never forget.

A painful discovery

Pet owners often hear of 'The Rainbow Bridge' as a place of reunion with faithful companions. When my loving menagerie greet me, I'm sure to be smothered.

Thank you for caring!

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