My dearest friends have lost three dogs in less than three years. Two of the dogs, in less than one year of each other. The first was a shock, they found out that young Sosa was full of cancer the day they had to say goodbye (story here). Shock prevailed and the pain was raw. The second, MollieAnne (story here), she outlived her cancer diagnosis by four years and in the end, it was a full, lovely life that took her.
Beauty crossed the rainbow bridge last week. They rescued Beauty as a senior, they knew their time with her would be short. Beauty’s first family adopted her as a rescue when she was just a pup. One day, that same family showed up at a PetSmart adoption event for Lost Dog Rescue (where they got Beauty) and said they were moving out of the country the next day and couldn’t take Beauty with them. They didn’t call ahead, they just brought Beauty over and dumped her, at age 11. She was in fairly rough shape, it was obvious that she had severe joint issues, her hips were not working right, it took a tremendous amount of effort for her to just lay down, let alone get back up. The reason I know this is that Virginia and I were at PetSmart that very day, doing what we normally do,
stalking visiting with dogs who need some love. It was love at first sight for Virginia (you can read more here) and it was immediately clear that as quickly as Beauty lost her first home, she found her forever.
Virginia and her family didn’t have to change who they were to accommodate Beauty. They are a home of animal loving fools and all the dogs that come into that house get what they need to have the best life they can. Beauty (we are assuming she got her name from Black Beauty) was taken straight to the vet. She was put on medications to help with her mobility. She went to therapy — laser, water, you name it, she got it. She was put on a diet. When she showed up at Petsmart that day, she was 11 going on 20 (from a physical perspective). Within six months with her forever family, she was running and swimming like a 7-year-old.
Beauty was a herder, she shuffled the kids around like Mary Poppins. She didn’t react well to loud noises, especially loud male voices. If things got too active around the kids, she would start nipping bootys to keep the moment in check. Eventually we just started calling her Booty. She chased away nighttime monsters in the kids dreams by going room-to-room throughout every night to watch over them. She did school drop offs, she stepped-up after her elder canine sister MollieAnne left us last year. She loved food more than any dog I have ever encountered. She would jam herself into the pantry to lay down, willing boxes of food to fall down so she could snack.
As suddenly as she arrived in our lives, it was time for her to go. Cancer crept into her bones. It was quick. The vet equated bone cancer to agony. The decision to let her go was clear, but the sadness was intense. The kids said goodbye and during her last minutes on earth, Virginia and her husband, Shane, gave her all the love in their hearts to take with her to heaven.
Taking in an elder dog and then losing that dog is similar to losing any other living creature except for one small thing. When you wish you had you more time with them, it’s not time at the end you crave, it’s that you had gotten them earlier, had more time at the beginning.
I have said this time and time again and Beauty reinforced it, old dogs, are the best dogs. Their capacity to love is unlike anything you will experience. Their soulfulness is piercing. Their gentle existence, well it’s like seeing peace. Sitting with an elder dog instantly makes you a better person, through some sort of magical osmosis.
Farewell thee lovely Beauty. You were loved more in your last years of life than most dogs are loved in a lifetime. Your home feels empty but somehow still full from the memory of you. Your kids carry you in their thoughts and ask about you daily. You leave the world with a lesson taught: you are never too old to find your forever.