Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

In Memory of Hannah Nov 1997-Feb 2010

Posted on | February 6, 2010 | 4 Comments

There isn’t much that stops me in my tracks.  I have too many things on my to-do list and too many mouths begging for food, attention, and more TV time.  So, when a dog gets old, I just start feeding her in the house, let her sleep upstairs away from the kids and daily commotion, and go on with my chores.  When she can’t manage the stairs, I move her bed in front of the wood stove and just pat her head as I pass by unloading groceries and mopping up muddy boot tracks.  And when the morning comes that she can’t get up and I have to lift her back legs to help her outside, I call the vet and still go on with checking homework, hauling feed bags, and putting dinner in the crock pot.

But the day that the vet comes is never a busy one.  On that day there is time for the kids to gather for one long last hug.  They will eat their breakfast sitting on the dog bed and treating her to bits of egg and bacon.  When their tears are dry and they have been delivered to school, there are no more chores to be done.  The dishes will wait in the sink and the chickens will wait in their coop.  For now, the only thing to do is to lay by her side in front of the wood stove, stroking her fur, and reminding her that she is a good dog.

I cannot remember everything she chewed or how many times she had the nerve to go to the bathroom in her crate at night.  I just remember that she would rise early as a young dog and play with her dog toy against our bedroom wall.  We woke each morning to the sound of it thumping and rolling and her nails clicking as she chased it around.  I remember that we could meet any of our friends and their dogs and she was content to be the dog on the bottom rung of the social ladder.  No growling or posturing for her, just tail wagging and a lowered head.  I remember that all my babies were greeted with licks and a high tolerance for ear-pulling.  And now that they are children, she can be walked by even the youngest of them because she never pulls on the leash.  Now she is the only dog that will reliably drop the tennis ball, without a chase, for another throw.  Now she snores so loudly at the foot of our bed that my husband and I wake and laugh (and sometimes, cuss) and toss a pillow at her to get her to roll over.  How will we sleep without those snores?

In the end it is not just their presence that dogs take with them.  It is all that time we had together.  The single years and the early days of marriage.  When we were building a house and expecting a baby.  When the children arrived and we started the farm.  All those beginnings, all that time is gone and we can never have it back.  When I weep into the soft fur on her head I am not just crying for her.  I am crying for the parts of our lives that are over and behind us.  How did we get to these final moments by the wood stove and the vet’s truck in the driveway?  How does our life just go on without hers?

She sighs and thumps her tail.  She never worries over what is over.  No dogs do.  Today’s tummy rub by the warmth of the fire is just as good as yesterday’s scratch behind the ears.  If dogs yearn for the years of youth and vigor it is only in their deepest dreams, when they whimper and bark and run in place while sprawled at the base of the couch.  But they always wake contented, happy to see you and satisfied with their station in life.   As if arthritic hips and fatty tumors are the prefect way to start another beautiful day.  And that’s why our house has always been filled with barks and dog hair.  Because dogs don’t have a to-do list.  Because dogs fill their years with sloppy kisses, not regrets.  Because dogs love you even when you yell for no reason or sleep late instead of getting their breakfast or forget they are outside when it starts to rain.  They love you even when you call the vet, and believe you when you tell them the needle is OK, and don’t even mind when your tears tickle their ears.

Goodbye, Hannah.  Thank you for you time with us.  We have no regrets, either, and we hope to see you on the other side.  With good hips and no more tumors.  Go in peace.

© Stevie Taylor 2010. All Rights Reserved.


4 Responses to “In Memory of Hannah Nov 1997-Feb 2010”

  1. liz knapp naone
    February 16th, 2010 @ 7:27 am

    Thank you. Reading this made me both laugh and cry. I recently lost my beloved Harley dog, and you expressed the whole experience very beautifully.


  2. UdderMost Farm Girl
    February 24th, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

    I have enjoyed reading so many of your posts, but I had to comment on this one. A shared grief, a bittersweet joy. You write beautifully … keep doing it, please.

  3. Scottie Jones
    March 6th, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    What a wonderful memorial to Hannah and also an eloquent piece about our lives, our families, and the completeness that the furrier members add to our experience. Thank you.

  4. Pet Writers Blog Carnival | PETS -N- THINGS ONLINE
    March 24th, 2010 @ 9:34 am

    […] Taylor presents In Memory of Hannah Nov 1997-Feb 2010 posted at Ruffled Feathers and Spilled […]

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