Sabrina came from the stray dog shed at the vet’s. She was next up to be put down and when my son bent down to look at her in her cage, she put her paw on the wire. He had to have her. He named her after a song.
She was not yet a year old but full grown, meek and anorexic. That soon changed. A new home and plenty of strokes on the couch transformed her into a joy machine filled with enthusiasm that never let up. She was reliably happy and hungry.
She adapted to my rhythm. She was a lark and my morning company. The cheerfulness of the dog kept me going many times. New studies have come out about how much emotional burden some family members–usually the alpha female–carry for the rest. This dog carried some of my burden by making sure that each day had some measure of spunk. She also worked–she caught mice and kept the squirrels and rabbits at bay.
She was far from perfect. As one person observed, she wore her eyeliner thick and dark. For example, when my daughter baked a cake and put it in a cake stand on the table, this beagle sized dog somehow got it down and ate half of it. She also ate a pound of raw meat and got sick all over, requiring us to get new carpet in the spare bedroom. And when my mom was in the hospital at Christmas and I was trying to serve dinner for the rest of the family to keep tradition going, Sabrina snapped a turkey bone from a child’s generous hand and needed a doggy Heimlich.
Her legs were strong and so are mine. A year ago she was walking miles with me, and six months ago, a mile, and then around the block, and then around the yard, In the end, I carried her. She couldn’t even walk. At first, she struggled to be normal again, but then, we resigned ourselves and I took care of her.
A month ago, when she was sixteen, I woke up to joy, for she was alive to greet me. We’d taken her to the vet the week before. She wasn’t walking, wasn’t eating. Her heart was still strong and we decided not to give up just yet. The vet thought it was something neurological, perhaps inner ear, and prescribed some steroids and antibiotics. They didn’t work. It was hopeless and so each new day when she was still with me, I celebrated. I’d come home from work and there she was, her eyes glistening as she looked up from her pillow. It was as it had been when she was a puppy, sprung from the pound, and each day she couldn’t believe that she had a family. Only now it was me in happy disbelief.
As time dictates, I lost her. This once vibrant creature so filled with joy was released to the universe. I still miss her and her crazy ways. I am trying to tell myself that things are on an even keel for me and the dog I have left. He’s over his mourning–she’d acted as a mother to him. I suspect he’s enjoying being the only dog. There’s far less dog poop to pick up, less expense, and I can sleep in–nobody is eager to start the day with me. I can travel more easily. I have one less thing to worry about. There will never be a beagle, mini pin, corgi mix to replace Sabrina. Why do I keep looking at puppies and telling myself that my next novel needs a puppy and I must get one for research?
One last photo!