Monday, January 3, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

A new year - time for beginnnings and endings. Unfortunately, yesterday was a very sad day, one of endings. After nearly 13 years, 7 of them spent in our home, our beloved collie, Carrie, left us. In addition to leaving behind a lot of hair (hey, she was a collie, after all,) she has left a hole in our hearts that feels like the size of the Grand Canyon.

Pets bring us complete and unconditional love, along with guaranteed heartbreak (in the words of my grandfather.) Carrie became our dog in 2003, the day after Thanksgiving. Willie had always wanted a collie, and Carrie needed a home after her previous owner passed away. She was born February 24, 1998 with the rather daunting name "Clarion Millcreek Charisma." (Yea, you can kind of see why it got shortened to "Carrie"...) Bred with the intent of being a show dog, she didn't quite make the mark and was relegated to the status of breeder. Sadly, she also failed at that and ultimately became a pet. She had several homes before ours, which may have contributed to her anxieties.

Whatever the case, that day in November she became our very own Carrie - for better or worse, 'til death do us part. We suspect that fate played a hand in bringing this dog to our door at that exact time. She was what some might call a "difficult" dog - her anxieties never left her and frequently manifested in ways that were troublesome, leaving in her wake a host of chewed up cameras, eye glasses, wood paste, chocolate, lemon hummus, and humongous veterinary bills. We suspect that lesser people wouldn't have returned her to the rescue folks. But in spite of her "foibles" (or maybe even becasue of them) she was infinitely lovable and she was ours for "keeps." And, while she loved me, her sun really rose and set with my husband, Willie. Carrie always knew when it was time for him to come home from work and would be there to greet him with crazy barking and a tail that, if it went any faster, would have caused her to become airborn. Those are the memories that I will keep close to my heart.

Carrie has been in failing health for several months and we both knew this day would come, but in spite of what the head knows, the heart is never willing or ready to accept it. At the end, you do what you hope is right by the pet, and you suffer the heartbreak that follows. Her last meal, provided by the vet's assistants, was chocolate and roast beef, two things that were forbidden food, but oh so tasty. On some level I am sure she thought she was getting one over on us, and I suspect she was smiling in the way that only dogs can smile. And, I am also sure that there is lots of chocolate, roast beef, peanut butter and other delectibles in the great beyond ... on the Rainbow Bridge.

Johnny Depp's version of the Irish Blessing seems especially fitting for Carrie...
“May the wind always be on your back and the sun upon your face and may the winds of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars.”

And, by the way, Carrie - Phoebe the cat wants to know if you'll save some food for her...