It isn’t often I step out of character but today I wanted to pay a tribute to a beautiful soul. While everyone else was giving thanks this Thursday for everything they hold dear, our thanks were for having 13 years of unconditional love and being able to spend the last holiday as a family we have been for so long before we said our goodbyes to Lady Abigail, My nickname for our black lab Abby.
If you’re not an animal lover, you will want to skip this post as I am going to get all sappy and talk about My beloved fur baby on a phonesex blog. Over the years, many of My callers have heard My 3 dogs barking in the background at the most inappropriate times, have worried with Me when My darlings were sick, shared with Me the laughs and swapped stories of the antics our pets have gotten into. Today’s post is for them as much as it is for Me.
Some people are unable to understand how you can love an animal so much that they become one of your children. They steal into your heart and then you create such a bond with them that just like in long steady marriages you understand each other without words. That was My Abby. I fell in love with her from the moment I saw that clumsy little black fur ball, watched her grow into a graceful Lady Abigail and basked in the knowledge that nobody can compete with love and devotion that I received from her. Letting her go was one of the hardest decisions we all had to make.
Abby was always My problem child; if you have kids of any kind you know what I’m talking about. This girl had more things happening to her than any other of My pets. If it wasn’t one infection, it was another one. If her and her sister yellow lab Suzy had the same type of surgery or procedure, you could bet Abby would be the one with complications. You could count on her to be the loudest, the most hyper, the most needy for attention. Yet, even though we have already been through some of the toughest moments with her health and knew that we’d have to watch her leave us due to her age, this Wednesday was the hardest of all diagnosis I’ve heard for Abby in all her 13 years: she had a tumor.
The vet pretty much told us that any kind of medical intervention at this point would be nothing more but buying time and even then there were no guarantees. We decided to spend our last Thanksgiving together at home, instead of leaving Abby at the clinic, and put her to sleep on Friday morning. Suffering is the last thing we wanted for someone we care so much about no matter how hard it is to let go. We spent the holiday sharing memories (and turkey with all of the pets) and laughing at some of the silliest things that happened over the years with our zoo. Once in a while Abby’s ears would perk up when she heard her name and I could have sworn I saw a gleam of smug satisfaction in her eyes: once again she brought us all together and closer.
Oh that girl was a smart one and manipulative as well. I have never known any other dog who had a Master’s in guilt trips. The reason I nicknamed her Lady Abigail was because her hoity-toity attitude reminded Me of a spoiled aristocratic Lady of the Manor. If anyone had the bad manners to hurt Abby’s feelings, she would literally turn her nose up at you and turn away. Doesn’t matter how much you pet her, offer her a treat, tell her you love the stuffings out of her, if you royally screwed up, she would even get up and walk away from you. Ordinarily, Abby would talk back to anyone talking to her. It was funny to carry on a conversation with her and have her answer at the most appropriate times with moans and whine. Even the pitch of her whine changed depending on the nature of conversation. But, if she was mad at you… no matter how much Abby loved to talk, Lady Abigail would give you a cold shoulder. Until you’ve groveled sufficiently, of course. Talk about sucking up to a dog!
Of course you could never mention to Abby that she was a dog either. In fact, the “d” word was not allowed in her presence. She’d either look at you like you are the dog or she’d be looking around the room as if saying “there is a dog in here? Where? Where???” Lady Abigail was a human as far as she considered it and nobody could tell her differently, especially when you found yourself sleeping on the edge of the bed while she took up the rest.
She was also too delicate and above the station of us lowly peasants to so much as dip her paw in a body of water. Some water dog she was with us having to talk her into going swimming. We always laugh about her being a lab and her indignant attitude when her tennis ball would land in the pool. Yeah, guess who always had to jump in and get it. Straight face.
I miss that old girl already and it’s finally hitting Me that a chapter of My life is slowly fading away. Abby and Suzy were the remnants of our family’s old life and in many crucial ways, they held our family together until we can become stronger and tighter as a unit. Without everyone’s fear of Lady Abigail’s snobby attitude, we would have all gone our separate ways years ago. Because none of us could bear to part with her and didn’t want anyone else (friend or foe) to have her, we stayed together. Abby’s job was done now and even in her last days she made sure we stand as one again, trust each other, and remind us how much we all love and care about each other.
Abby’s paw prints will be forever imprinted on our hearts, she was one extraordinary Lady. I know she’s happy and that My problem child is taken care of; in her own special way Abby was able to send Me assurance mere hours after we said our goodbyes. But that’s a story for another day…