Most dogs do not have their obituary published in the local newspaper. But, Ivy Claire was never “most dogs.”
Most dogs do not have their mug shot printed next to their human’s column, “Pegged Right,” every single week either, but then again - she’s always been the exception. She was the friend of all our gentle readers.
Ivy Claire recently hit eleven and one-half years and she hadn’t been well of late.
First, I noticed that although she still sat on the back of the sofa, listening for the mail carrier to come by, she couldn’t hear the mail dropping into the noisy metal box anymore.
Never much of a barker, it was her religious duty to bark her fool head off at our wonderful carrier (who was just doing her job.) Ivy was the first dog on the route, so after she rang out with the opening chorus, the cacophony of barks of neighbor dogs echoed around the block like a finely tuned canine security system/choral arrangement.
Next, I noticed that she didn’t come when I called - but that was no surprise. She always had a mind of her own. But, what I didn’t want to admit, was that my Wire Hair Fox Terrier had gone deaf.
Even the giant trash trucks that rumbled along, slamming the trash carts and banging doors closed, did not raise a reaction from her. Next, she stopped reacting to her two real fears … the vacuum and the sound of a thunderstorm.
The world of my little Foxie had gone peacefully silent.
Always ready to go for a walk - she would still start out good, but then would turn back for home. Sometimes her back legs would fold up like an old wooden folding chair, I’d have to carry her home.
Then I noticed that when I’d hold a snack right in front of her face, she’d sniff and sniff to find it. Poor dear was going blind. I kept her on a leash and tried to train her where to turn in our house, where to expect to find her water dish and food. I walked behind her to guide her up the stairs. She seemed to use her snout and her scruffy beard like bumpers to let her know there was another step coming or another wall before her.
It was a very poignant sight to see her bump into the cabinets or thump around under the table and not be able to find her way around the chairs or the table legs. Always trying to find me. She’d keep going until she’d nudge my legs and then I’d pick her up and hold her like a baby. For nearly a dozen years, she’d been my baby.
She liked that attention, even after her life had gone stone quiet and ever-darkening. I took as much time as I could to sit with her and scratch her belly and her ears and I do not regret those weeks where chores were put on the back burner, because we both needed to be together to let go. I would talk and talk and she would turn her head and give me “her version of sniffies” which was sniffing around my face, which was her way of remaining in touch.
I’d think of all the adventures we’d had from the time I got her as a small, bit of fur from a family farmer. She was always right next to me. We kayaked together, hiked through the woods, and splashed around at the state park.
She slept every night curled against my spine.
She loved swimming with my grandchildren in their pool. She’d watch them jumping in and before swimming out to “save” them. She’d whimper and whine as she got closer to them as if she was saying, “Don’t worry! I am coming to get you!”
She would run around the concrete deck so many times that the pads of her feet would get so rough that the next day, she could hardly walk. Every time we’d go to their house, she’d make a beeline for the pool - even in the winter.
Dogs have good lives and although there always seem to be some misty years at the end - Ivy never seemed to be in pain. So, I promised her that if she could remain in a comfortable place - I’d give her as much time as she was given.
This dog, this scruffy little dog. She taught me so much about love and joy.
Towards the end, her legs grew weak and I’d have to carry her down the stairs and out into the yard two or three times a night.
I never minded. I would have done anything for Ivy.
Last Sunday night, she slipped peacefully into the big sleep. I woke in the morning and noticed that her body, which had grown so thin, was still.
I laid in my bed and just looked at her for more than an hour. I’d imagine that she was still with me, but when I got up and touched her - I had to accept the painful truth.
My very best friend and dearest companion had gone on before me. I know I’ll meet her someday and I know she’ll be waiting. She would not forget me anymore than I’d forget her. I was so lucky to have her and her snappy, black eyes and stubby little tail beside me whenever I needed her.
I am shattered, but now it’s my turn to be strong and to be honest, I am not doing a very good job of it. Keep a good thought for me gentle readers.