Saturday, November 25, 2006

Lady: ???? - 2006















"Okay, let's go before the sun sets." I set off for the southwest corner as the sun touched the tops of the oaks. He followed and we walked past the old firewood crib and through the spindly pines until we came to a faded green, crooked wooden cross set between two longleaf pines.

I scratched an outline in the sandy pinestraw covered soil on the east side of the cross.

"This is big enough, but make sure it's good and deep."

I pointed to his hips, " At least that deep."

He nodded, " Are you sure Ranger is on the other side of the cross?" He didn't want to disturb the final resting place of our best dog.

"Yes, I'm sure. I buried him." It may have been hard to see that day, but I remember where I put him.

"How long ago did Ranger die?" He was looking at the crooked cross now.

" About six years ago ..."

"Six years, I guess I'm a pretty good cross maker." He leaned on the shovel and gazed at the battered little wooden cross.

"Yes, you are." He was only nine at the time. The crudely nailed cross with the dog collar draped across it had stopped me in my tracks the first time I came across it. I had planned for just the two longleaf pines to be Ranger's monument, hoping to avoid the creation of a "pet cemetary". The kids had other ideas.

Now, here we were again.

" I'm sorry you have to do this, but I have got to leave, in fact, I'm late."
My brother and I had switched vehicles for the day so I could use his truck to bring a showpig home from Georgia. It had been a long day. I'd been on the road since 4:30 am, driven to Tifton and back and now, I had to drive halfway across the peninsula. My brother was even now leaving his house and driving towards me. I was supposed to be on the road driving towards him. We would meet in the middle.

"I'm okay."

"Are you sure you're okay with this?"

"I'm okay, I want to do this for her."

I loved him for that.

" You know she was a lucky dog. Whoever dumped her here in 1997 missed out on a very sweet dog."

"I know."

She seemed old back in "97 and now, 9 years later, she had become blind, deaf, and riddled with cancer. You could actually see her winding down over the last month. I found myself torn between letting her wind down on her schedule, or letting the vet help her go. What if she was in pain? Was I being selfish?

The abdominal tumor had grown rapidly and looked painful, yet she went about her daily doggy business without any whining or sign of suffering. She was doing all her usual old dog business ... only slower.
So I waited, indecisive ...

In the end, she made the decision for me. A teary-eyed Mrs. FC found her curled up on the porch, only she wasn't there anymore. We wrapped her in the old blanket she liked to sleep on.
Now I was handing off a traditional "Dad duty" to my son and somehow it didn't feel right.

"Thank you for taking care of this."

"It's okay Dad."

I had to get on the road.

I left him in the falling light with a shovel and the blanket wrapped body of a good dog.




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28 comments:

SophieMae said...

You have such a gift for writing. You brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry y'all lost Lady. It was obviously a blessing for her to have had those years with your family. {{{{{{{Cracker family}}}}}}}}}

Wayne said...

I am sorry, FC and family. We do love our companions and it's so hard to see them go. Please accept a little warmth from Georgia.

threecollie said...

FC, I am so, so sorry. There are tears in New York for your wonderful dog...and you have surely raised more than just a good cross builder down there in the wild of Florida.

John Cowart said...

I identify with this post so much. You brought back memories of Sheba, our black lab who lived with us for 17 years.

Are there dogs in Heaven? Of course. Where else could they be?

Deb said...

Sending hugs to you and the family. It's so hard when the time finally comes.

roger said...

we would expect young fc to be a mensch, as you are, and we would be correct. you both did well with responsibility. i didn't expect tears this early in the day, but it was a balance of sadness and respect.

Juli said...

Oh FC... I'm so sorry to read this. Lady couldn't have lived a more loved life. I am sorry for your family's loss.

robin andrea said...

Lady definitely was a lucky girl when she found your family. I have tears in my eyes for Lady's passing and for Junior's loving ministrations. Rest in peace, Lady.

vicki said...

Ah, FC, this is bittersweet. The high price of animal companionship comes at times like these but who would trade it? And for your son, I think it is as much an honor as a hardship that this duty falls to him. I'm sorry that the FC family has had to say goodbye to such a good friend.

"Heaven is by favor; if it were by merit our dogs would go in and we would stay out." Mark Twain

ImagineMel said...

Now Lady can really fly free on those night time journeys R and J have shared with me. He is indeed a special young man. We're blessed to have him as a part of our family. Blessings to you all!

Rurality said...

Aw. Sorry to hear this. She definitely looks like she's had a nice long life.

debbie said...

Your post brought back so many memories of departed beloved pets. And that brought the tears. Pets give us so much and ask for so little in return. A few years ago one of our dogs was in such pain from cancer that the vet recommended "helping" her go. Our kids insisted on being with Maggie when it was time to go to the vet. When I signed them out of school I listed the reason as "death in the family". It's a very sad memory but the kids have always been grateful that they were there for Maggie. You did right by allowing your son the honor of digging her resting place. It was the last thing that he could do for her. I am so sorry for your loss.

swamp4me said...

Here's to Lady, a good dog.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks all. They do leave an empty spot when they go. I appreciate your kind words. The long goodbye of her illness allowed everyone to accept and prepare for her going so it was not as sharply painful as the unexpected death of a good pet.

Mrs. S said...

*hugs* for you and anyone else around who might need them.

kathy a said...

lady was a terrific friend. so sorry to hear her days came to an end.

i know it was hard to leave that last task to your son, but it sounds like he was ready to take up the shovel. ya done good, FC, and junior is a prince.

pissed off patricia said...

The tears are making it tough to see the screen right now because in the, hopefully far distant future, I'll be writing a similar story about my dog, Murphy.

I give Lady special memories for freeing herself rather than making you make that decision.

Laura said...

I couldn't comment before because I'm not good at things like this. That is one of the hardest things to do, saying goodbye.
But I want you to know I am sorry. I am so sorry. :(

Cathys said...

I am late with my condolences, but just returned from Thanksgiving holiday to find your post. If the words are mispelled it is because I am crying along with you. Such a hard, hard thing to do. My sympathies.

Likes2mtnbike said...

So sorry, FC. I have that chore ahead x2 with our two old guys. Wish I had a son (a good one like yours) to help me out when the time comes.
Good boy, Son of FC, good boy.

Missourimadness said...

Oh my...bless you for loving a creature so much; and I know you thank your lucky stars that the precious dog ended up as part of your family. I am so sorry for your loss.

Mark said...

Poor old thing. I hate to see them go; so many of them are better people than lots of us are. If you're a dog lover and live long enough, you help send far, far too many of them along. I guess it's the price we pay for their companionship. Would any other price be too little?

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Towards the end of your post the tears were making it hard for me to read on, but I did and I am SO SORRY. I know how hard it is too lose a family pet. We lost our last doggy to cancer after 15 years and, it was just like losing a family member.

Floridacracker said...

Thank you for the kind words. I feel a bunch of kindred spirits out there.

I am spending lots of time hugging and scratching Flounder and Feather. They seemed a little depressed yesterday, part of their pack is missing and they know it.

Hurricane Teen said...

awww, I'm very sorry. It must be one of the toughest things losing a loved pet. I dread the day my pets die...But, obviously, she was a very happy and lucky dog being with such a good family. Great story, FC.

doubleknot said...

So sorry for your lose. I posted 'A Dog's Prayer' on my blog not too long ago. It is hard to make that decision.

Anonymous said...

i'm so sorry. we helped our Lady on her way this summer. losing them is hell, isn't it?

sounds like your son took another step closer to being a man that day. i'm glad he's got a good guide.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

My belated condolences to you and your clan.