I had planned to write another response to USA Today’s recent article once again eviscerating the General Aviation community.  That article will have to wait.

The Unexamined life is not worth living.  This I believe:  this statement not only applies to ourselves, but those around us.

I lost my little girl  Ladybug yesterday.  Lady was a Golden Retriever who had not met a human who didn’t immediately fall for her.  You hear that sort of thing all the time from doting pet parents, but ask anyone who knew Lady and they’ll just silently nod their head.  With us was her mom and our dear friend Vicki.  A comment on Vicki – she is always the calm in a storm that is life and it has to be an exhausting effort to generate the energy she does to care and love her husband, son, and those who are fortunate enough to be covered by her umbrella of warmth and compassion.

When I was told I needed to get to the facility in Maitland if I wanted to see her before she passes I didn’t allow the internal turmoil to interfere with my outwardly stoic appearance at work – or so I thought.  Thing is, people have been aware of things going on in my life for a while, but I do like most.  I keep the walls high enough and thick enough to keep everyone out.

But this last bit of news would force me to rendezvous with my emotions.

I arrived and told the front desk I was there to see Ladybug.  When I walked in to the room she was on the floor, devouring a huge bowl of a delicious looking pasta dish Vicki made especially for her.  Lady was extremely food motivated, and I believe with enough motivation she would recite the Greek alphabet if there was a worthy enough gastronomic prize waiting.

I sat down and began to rub her coat.  Still so soft and luxurious.  She turned to look and see who was touching her and the recognition and joy was unmistakable.  And then she returned to the task of finishing the pound or so of pasta and vegetables.  She managed well despite the enormous mast cell tumor that had grossly disfigured her beautiful lips and face.

Except for bathroom breaks, I spent several hours touching her or rubbing her mane, or massaging her muscles.  She had a mild stroke a couple of years ago and I had taken to doing deep tissue on her joints every morning before I left for work.  It became a ritual for us just as she would come to me to get a good fifteen minute rub under her chin before going to sleep for the night.

Some things non-pet owners should know about our pets:

We love them.  They keep us.  They are moody, and social, and sometimes anti-social, but never complain.  They comfort us because they know when we are down or ill, and they love us in spite of our treatment of them.  Their Love is selfless and sometimes unrequited.  We recognize that having them in our lives is a lifetime commitment.  And all they ask in return is to be kept safe, because they’ll keep us safe, and to be fed, and most importantly, this one thing:

The last time they close their eyes and go to sleep, they want to be able to see us and hear us, and know that we will be there for them, because it is a difficult and uncertain journey to leave such a life behind.

When the doctor came in my heart began to race.  I looked at Ladybug and saw her chest slowly rising and falling as she lay there as relaxed as royalty being attended to.  The doctor explained the process, and a part of me wanted to say, “no, there has to be another option.  There has to be some other treatment we haven’t tried.”  But I knew that we had tried everything, just as they had.  And her body had become too weak even for the chemo.

Afterwards the doctor hugged us both.

“It never gets easier,” she said, with tears in her eyes.  “But we should be as lucky to pass on surrounded in our final moments by those who love us.”

I continued to rub Lady’s mane.  Her eyes were closed, I had facilitated that partially out of fear of not wanting to stare into lifeless eyes, and partly because I wanted to believe she was still gently asleep.

The trip home I cried like I have not cried in years.

Last night my dreams were filled with her.  She was fine and running and happy.

I awoke much earlier than normal and the first thought that filled my head was of every time I had been impatient with her.

She was never impatient with me.

The thought provided a valuable lesson.  We should aspire to become the people our dogs believe us to be.

Ladybug – We Love You.



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2 Responses to “Ladybug”

  1. Ramish Says:

    Grace & peace. Our condelences to you. C U in a few weeks.

  2. Mary Lee Scott Says:

    I am so sorry. I too lost a dog once that was the love of my life, and I was in the hospital at the time, too ill to even be by her side when she passed. Count those moments you had with Lady as a blessing, and know she is now at peace.

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