Today I went up
to our old house on the hill, parked in the parking place reserved
for the renter of the cottage we built years ago for Pear's mom. I
did what I felt the need to do, I walked into the little field
behind the house of the folks who had lived beside us and who now
also owned the little cottage I was now walking by. Nobody yelled at
me or asked what I was doing and I’m glad of that, I was going to
I first met her on a Friday night, I had just arrived from
Petersburg, Virginia for the weekend. Pearl and Robert introduced me
to her. The sweetest little black and brown and white puppy, who
immediately wanted to lick my face, I don’t think in her life she
ever saw a stranger. Pearl and Robert had visited the Animal Shelter
and they had been adopted by Mandy. She was a shepherd-collie mix
and had a beautiful face.
In the following years she was spoiled rotten by us and the
neighbors. Our neighbor Bill would take her walking with him around
and around his house, each trip around the house Bill would have a
sip or so from his dark drink sitting on the back steps and, each
time he’d give Mandy her treat! A hotdog wiener, after a little of
that Mandy was almost stuffed and Bill was almost stiff.
Her friendship with our cats became legends in the neighborhood, the
cat would lie in wait between the boxwoods and when Mandy came by,
would ambush her and jump on her back, Mandy would just keep walking
until the cat got comfortable and would then walk under a low bush
and brush her off.
The years came too fast, arthritis bothered her, especially in the
cold weather, she had always had a bed on the closed back porch, now
we brought her bed into the back hallway by the radiator, increased
her medicine and laughed when we would come down in the morning and
surprise her sleeping in the living room on one of the couches, she was
so embarrassed to have us catch her before she could get back to her
bed where she was supposed to be.
She became incontinent and then her hips just gave up. Someone would
have to carry her into the back yard, let her do her business and
then clean her up and carry he back to her bed. She would lick our
hands in love and gratitude and we’d give her a few Kibbles and
Bits, She always shoved the Bits aside until after she ate the
It was summertime and we already knew we could not keep her when the
weather got cold. We discussed it, but by mutual consent, we didn’t
talk much of the day rapidly approaching. Fourteen years was a long
time for her but it was all to short for us.
I called the Doctor, he said, “you know it’s time John. You and
Pearl bring her up’, I told him, “No you come to her please. We want
her here on the carport she loves so much.” He said I’ll be there
tomorrow at noon if you think it’s OK.” I thanked him and Pearl and
I embraced and thought of Robert, now at Great Lakes in training,
how would we tell him?
I went to town and found someone to dig her grave under the big old
Oak near the McThenia fence. I had a large piece of stone from
Howard Fields quarry that I was saving to use as a chimney cap, I
could get another!
That evening was one of tears and petting, I’m sure Mandy wondered
what the heck was going on with us, but she enjoyed the good piece
of meat we treated her to.
All too soon the Doctor arrived, he wasted no time shaving her front
ankle. We had lain her on a white sheet we had taken from our bed of
the night before, it smelled like us. We petted and told her how
much we loved her and what a great friend she had been, the Doctor
said, “Pearl and John, it’s over”. We could only nod.
We sat with our arms around each other, crying for a part of our
life now gone. Pearl helped me load Mandy into garden wagon and
behind the Mower she absolutely hated, we began her last ride. We
left her there wrapped in a sheet that smelled of those she loved
and in her blanket and under the stone that would protect her when
I hurry on eager to speak to her under the Oak Tree.