And now we are three. Yesterday was a gut wrenching day for our family. No matter how much preparing you do: visits with the vet, medications to halt physical symptoms--you are never, ever really ready. The crying and heaving and wondering if this or that might have made life "better"--it doesn't ease any of the pain. All you can do is let the grief wash over you and carry you further and further away from the moment when the last breath is taken. And we were there. Holding her. Well, Dr. Thyme did the holding, I was hunched over, my head in my lap, sobbing out loud. The pain is still sharp. Crying again now.
Mystique was a beagle mix we found on my birthday fifteen years ago.
Dr. Thyme and I were on a date. We were at a winery listening to a band, noshing on bread and cheese samples. It was a beautiful night. Then here comes this adorable little ball of a beagle mix, up on her hind legs, begging for food right at our feet. We both looked around. Where's her owner, we asked each other. No one in the crowd seemed to be "missing" her. She had made the rounds with other patrons because a few other folks were holding out chunks of bread to feed her--asking her to do a trick (stupid drunks). And she did do "tricks". She sat, rolled over and sat back up--with very little prompting. I remember wandering over to one of the owner's/managers of the place asking where she came from, who'd she belong to? "Dunno. She's been here about a year--just wanders in and out . . . no one seems to know." Oh Christ, I thought. You have got to be kidding me. No one's claimed her!? It was getting late. We needed to get on the road (sober), we had a bit of a drive ahead of us. Dr. Thyme and I were smitten with her. I was a little leary of temperment issues. I had never picked up a stray off the streets. (And I won't ever again.) Yes, she seemed sweet as pie, but we had four other dogs at home. How were we going to manage this? He just scooped her up and we walked to the car. On the way home, she sat on my lap. Tail wagging the whole time. Then she got car sick and I was covered in cheese and bread. Ew. Plus, she was, of course, covered in fleas. And had worms. Obviously she'd be visiting the vet first thing the next morning. And that was how Mystique came into our lives. (We named her after the band that was playing that night--but shortened her to "Stinky" later in life because she became quite the stinker the older she got.)
She hated picture taking. We were constantly trying. We were able to capture a few precious moments. Dr. Thyme better at it than me.
And then one evening we learned something about our girl that changed our world forever. She had formed a "pack" with her best friend in our group of dogs--a lab mix. (Our family had grown a bit since she'd been integrated.) She seemed to fit in, but, sort of bossy. Not much for hugging and snuggling. I attributed this to the fact that she may have just not been around many people who showed her affection. She seemed happier around her tribe of canines than her tribe of humans. And for the rest of her fifteen years with us, she had a safe and secure environment shared with the one dog she'd bonded with. (*There is much more to this story of course, the story of their "pack" behavior and consequences of such, but it is still too painful for me to write about. I'll just tell you that Dr. Thyme and I decided that the right thing to do was to allow them both to exist with us as an entity of their own--separated from the other dogs, but still very much loved and cared for.) It has not been easy--these last fifteen years. And no, I never fully bonded with her. Dr. Thyme, with his big heart, saw her as a special dog for whom the world had dealt a bad hand. She was, therefore, a daddy's girl. And her companion--well, she was mommy's girl.
As for her best friend, she has moved on with nary a wimper. Dare I say a sense of relief, perhaps? It's as if she were the only dog all along. She is a bundle of lab-breed happiness and eternal juvenile behavior: stuck in the terrible twos forever. Tail wags non-stop, always willing to please, a tad on the hyper-drive mode. She can be a handful sometimes. But secretly, I think she knows darn well how lucky she was to have found a home with us. (She had been returned to the rescue group she came from twice before landing with our family. Which really should have told me something before my hormones kicked in and I felt I had to be mother to all things great and small during my most maternal-feeling years.)
See you on the other side, Stinky. We love you!