Monday, October 29, 2012

A Good Dog Gone

When I go back to the very beginning of my 5FC blog, it's quite evident to me that it's main purpose has always been a recording of our lives.   Many times I have blogged a sweet or funny moment with the family, only to forget, only to then have my blog help me remember.

Then the Haitian Sensations came home, and the entire experience of parenting PTSD/Attachment-challenged kids turned my life upside down, my blog kind of shifted.  I had zero energy for blogging many of the good moments because I was trying to just survive the rest of the time.  My blog was my way to reach out and find a community to help me get through these dark moments.

But now, having found such a community in my real, day-to-day life, I find that my use of my blog is shifting once again, back to a means of recording my family's life and times--our history, if you will.

So, a very sad event for us this past May was the passing of our beloved, 3-legged wonder Ernie.

It was time.  We knew it was coming for some time, and eventually, all too soon, it was very evident that the time was upon us.

I adopted Ernie in 1999, when he was about 7 months old, and when it was just Hatfield and myself.  Ernie made us a family of 3.  Ernie was three-legged even then, having had been beaten by a group of teens as a stray puppy.  He had been at the Humane Society for about 2 months when Hatfield and I went in one day and fell in love with his sweet spirit.

But man, though, was he a pain in the keester, as many good dogs can be.  He was a pain to house train.  He was a pain because he had the escape artistry skills of a canine Houdini.  And he was a pain because his very unique Beagle Bay seemed otherworldly.

But he was ours.  And we loved him.  And even though he had a horrible start to life, and I wouldn't have blamed him one bit never to trust a human again, that dog, he loved us.

He loved his girl Hattie Lou most of all.

A house full of kids and dogs and cats is not everyone's idea of a great life, but it is for me.   For me, it's everything.

I remember winter days when I would load little Hattie Lou up in her sled to for walks with Ernie.  Hatfield and I would stick to the shoveled sidewalks, but not Ernie.

He would bound--fly, really-- through those snow banks.  Floppy beagle ears flapping behind him.  Leaping like a jack rabbit, crazy-eyed with glee.  Those walks were delightful and amazing.

One of our favorite Ernie stories is that he caused us to nearly miss our wedding! Well, not literally our wedding, but I nearly missed the plane I was flying out on to Seattle so I could elope with the Mister.

I had put Ernie in our fenced backyard while I was loading up the car with luggage.  I had to drive Hatfield and I three hours south to Chicago's O'Hare airport, and I needed to get on the road, and quickly.

I went back to the fence to retrieve Ernie when I discovered him missing.  5 minutes he had been gone, tops, but as far as Beagle on the Loose time goes, he could gain a lot of blocks in 5 minutes.

Frantic, I searched the blocks up and down.  No luck there.  I strapped Hatfield into her carseat and drove up and down the streets, window open, because with Ernie I knew it was more likely that I would hear him before I could see him.

Finally, I gave p and headed home.  Sick to my stomach, there was no way that I could leave Green Bay without knowing Ernie was safe at home.

I unloaded Hatfield and went inside the house, picking up the phone to call my stepdad to enlist his help.

About 2 minutes into that call, I saw my neighbor and hero Glen carrying Ernie up the front steps.

Muddy and covered in compost, smiling ear to ear, tongue flopping and panting.

Ernie (not Glen.  Well, Glen was muddy and covered in compost, but I promise you he was neither smiling nor had his tongue flopping about.)

I made that plane, barely, and 12 years later, the Mister and I are still married.
In my mind's eye, he is in our backyard, sprawled through the grass, smiling in the sunshine, sniffing the air.

Man, I loved that dog.  We all did.

For me, this loss compounded my feelings of sadness that time is passing by so quickly.  I adopted Ernie when Hatfield was just a tot, and they grew up together.  Losing Ernie makes me realize all the more at how quickly Hatfield is growing up, and soon enough she'll be leaving and going off into the world.  What I wouldn't give to have my Hattie and Ernie little again.

Like with the passing of so many aged pets, a relief factor is present.  It was a relief to not have to wonder just how much discomfort he was in.  It was a relief to no longer have to worry that he would try getting down off the couch or attempt some stairs by himself when we were not home to help him.  It was a relief not to be woken up 3 times each night by his sharp barks calling us, to help him get off the couch, or go outside, or be carried upstairs to sleep on his doggie pillow next to our bed.

Yet every one of those worries, every one of those discomforts, every one of those times when we had to chase him down from 3 blocks over because he was on a wild squirrel chase. . . every one of those times was worth it.

Several times now since his passing, I have been awoken in the middle of the night by a single, loud, sharp Beagle Bark.  I'm pretty sure his presence is still here with us, and I think it will be for some time.  Not all of his kids are grown, and he spent many hours on the couch, just smiling and watching the busy, crazy life around him.

It hurts so much when we lose our most beloved of beloved pets.  But they make life so much lovelier, so much fuller, and so much more enjoyable.

We love you Ernie, and we miss you terribly.  
Bark and all.


Corey said...

Ernie was a sweet dog. It was his passing that made me (panic about the thought of eventually losing my 11 y/o Lolly and) get our puppy, Meri. Meri has added SO much joy in the few months that we've had her; she is just a doll. I am so sorry that you lost such a good companion.. know that some joy came out of your love for him. xoxo

Nobody said...

It really seemed to me, that I got to know you as you really are, because I got to see you in your home, with your beautiful family, AND all your critters. I'm sorry we came a few months too late, and missed the privilege of meeting Ernie. From one animal lover to another, I heartily agree that they are worth all the hard work, and fill our lives with joy. I secretly am suspicious of people without pets.

Last Mom said...

So very sorry for your loss. We lost our 11-year-old Boston terrier 2 years ago and still miss her like crazy.