This, I feel certain, is a story all of you who have lost a beloved pet will ID with. Even with all of the wild things we try around here, Janie & I are actually a pretty conservative thinking people and hang on to tradition a great deal. We have lived in the same (original grove owner “cracker style” wood frame, wood walled house for 25 years and we have had the same black & white Springer Spaniel mutt dog we saved from the pound for over 14 years.
Bridgette (before named “Oreo”) has been the balancing “girl” in our 2 son family, she has always been there meeting me at the door when I came dragging home greeting me with a “Damn glad you’re home” smile excited about the 5 minutes or so I would spend with her before I could enter the threshold of the house. Wether it was hot, cold, wet or windy, Bridgette gave me a reason to come home and a positive encounter when I got there.
Yesterday, Janie & I had to face the proper reality of living in this time based world, it was Bridgettes time to go on to other pursuits.
She was special (probably not unlike the pet you had that was always there for you too). My sons probably can’t conjure up a memory without “the girl” there to add here unique flavor to every situation. I certainly had a very hard time this morning getting up on time without “biddy” gently nudging me first at 4:30 AM too see if there was to be movement then again at 5 with a bit more persistence.
My mornings were choreographed every day I was home by her with a wake up, shower, then the big walk. It would not do that we would not make the couple hundred yard walk to the end of the street and back. It was usually still dark when her & I would crack open the screen door and go out in the dark for our “constitutional” wander. She did her dance back and forth across the street stopping at seemingly the same spots every day. She knew to not go into some yards and to stop short of wandering out into the main road. It was just how we had done it for years and she knew her part well. I would always wait at the head of the street until she pointed her nose back toward the house for the walk back. Sometimes she would sit looking back toward the house with her nose high in the air sniffing the morning smells. She would squint here eyes and you just felt she was doing nothing but enjoying life and having nothing else to do but sit and celebrate being there.
The next door neighbor would usually come out to move his wives car around the front of his house and Bridgette would trot over to say good morning with her usual one quiet snort of his pants leg. By the time I made it back to the screen door, she had beaten me there going a different way every time. She would look at me then put her nose in the crack of the screen door. If I hesitated opening the door on her command, I would get another quick stare and if the door was not cracked open enough for her to get in, a short, tasteful yelp would come which meant that I had better do my job. I had tested her to see what she would do after those warnings and it wasn’t pretty. No matter how dark and quiet it was, she would put up a fuss. She would make a bee line to her bowl because she knew a treat was about to be dispensed. Sometimes I would give her 2 which she gave my a “thank you” glance before she would take that second biscuit.
While I ate my breakfast, Bridgette would curl up under the kitchen table next to my feet and lay there motionless while I watched the morning news. When I got up to do the dishes (my usual morning job), Bridgette would sneak into our bedroom and quietly lay down beside our bed where Janie was still sleeping. Day after day, I would go in to say goodbye to Janie, Bridgette would look up and seemingly nod her head before going back to her resting state.
She watched over us and took care of us in the best way she knew how— every day of her life.
We brought her to the last Sunshine Statesmen rally last week in Panascea where she had some good times. The arthritis in her hind quarters was noticeably limiting her mobility. She was very low in energy although she was ready to go anytime we opened the door to the coach. Her beautiful black and white coat was still shiny although there was pronounced tasteful grey wisps showing her age. She could hardly hear but if you talked loud enough, she would listen and still sit & shake just as she was taught. She could not spring into the coach any more, we had to help her up but hey, she was no trouble. She stood there knowing one of us would help her in. She wore her age well. The cataracts in her eyes always made me wonder how much she could actually see. She never ran into anything and even when there were days it was clearly difficult for her to maneuver, she always figured things out and gracefully made her way.
Janie was her mother and that was no doubt. If we didn’t notice when she needed a bath, Bridgette would nudge Janie and walk over to the back door. When she needed something, she did not look at me, oh no she always went to Janie. She knew full well what our jobs were. She was never a problem in the tub and loved to sit there letting the flea medicine do its job. It was so neat walking out on the porch and see a wet dog sitting quietly in the plastic utility sink looking at you like she was saying “WHAT!”.
Well done, good and faithful servant, Bridgette had lived a long and proud life. She had been loved by and had loved a group of people that had grown up around her. I am sure she looked at my sons as her own. She had played with them, been with them and made them feel special through thick & thin. She had been there whenever Janie or I had needed her without complaint. It was now time for us to give something back to her. She had stayed the course and now it was time for her to reap her reward. Almost seemingly knowing and cheerfully accepting the reward, we had some very special moments before taking her in to the clinic to begin her next journey. Janie & I didn’t think we could stay in the room when the work was going to be done and opened the door as to leave. The girl, gave out her graceful “mini bark” and bounced up and down on her front legs. She did not want us to leave so we did not. She didn’t utter another sound as the table was raised to a working level and as I held her looking full long into her determined eyes, I saw when the twinkle in her eyes started to fade. I said, “She’s going”. Janie & I both teared up, I said in a strong voice as I had tight eye contact “I will always love you” — and then Biddy was gone.
Bridgette Bounds leaves a grieving family of four who are intensely proud of her life and the way she wove our lives into hers. There was not a better, more devoted dog on this planet, everyone probably feels this way about their beloved pet but I really think this true of Bridgette. She was truly one of a kind. There is not much more to say about our previous “girl”. We will never forget those memories, time will pass but the value of her devotion and friendship will never leave us and be strong in our hearts.
Bridgette, I will always be in your debt
Thanks you for honoring Bridgette’s life by coming here, I hope you will have the chance to know & love your pet the way we did with “the girl”. I know Nathan feels this way about his friend and loyal dog “Captain” who kept him together until it was his time to go, if you are in a relationship with a pet, make an extra effort to do something nice for them. Who else will appreciate your attention and affection more. It will be good for them and good for you too– a win-win. If you have had a pet like Bridgette thank God for the experience because, like me, you probably don’t deserve such a favor.