Abbie, the Wonder Dog has been in my family since 1989. Last week, she was finally put down. This was one of those situations where you’re glad they’re finally at rest. Abbie was arthritic, totally deaf, partially blind, and had tumors under her skin all over her body. (Petting her felt creepy, but obligatory.)
I’ve been braced for the news that the family dog was dead since I went off to college in 1997. Some time after these pictures were taken, she lost sight in one eye, and a single tumor on one leg turned into lumps all over. I figured she wouldn’t last the next winter.
On July 4, 2004, my family became the incidental owners of a beagle (who we named John Edwards – we were feeling optimistic) and Abbie’s quality of life increased dramatically. Until then, she had the humans and the cats to amuse her. Now she had a friend of the same species.
Abbie lived WAY longer than any of us thought, and I think it was because John Edwards was around to keep her company. Finally, though, it became apparent that although she was a wonder dog, she wouldn’t live forever.
When I talked to my mom on the phone, she told me that Abbie had been put down because she had stopped eating and was walking sideways. I think we were all relieved that she was done being an old dog. I’m glad she was put down, rather than accidentally hit by Mom in her car, or Dad in a tractor.
“I think she lived so long because of John Edwards. She was too old to be much fun, but at least there was another butt to sniff,” said my mom, in a most empathetic tone.
In her youth, Abbie had a tendency to bring us “presents”. I’m sure a lot of pets do this, but when you live on a farm near the timber, you end up with really big, smelly presents on your lawn. I can’t tell you how many times I had to remove a cow placenta or deer bone from the front lawn so I could mow.
Abbie’s trademark was barking at vehicles that drove up the lane. It was like a farm-wide doorbell. We knew when someone was driving up, which is really nice when you live on a farm and aren’t used to a lot of random visitors. Plus, she was always friendly to whomever drove up. It was like, “Hey! Someone’s here! I’ll go smell them for you!”
I also remember a period of time when she was younger when she would carry kittens around in her mouth. I think this was a mothering instinct, but that’s not what you think of when you see a cat in a dog’s mouth.
Basically, she was the best farm dog a family could want (outside of actually being able to herd) and as you can tell by my sentimental words, she will be missed.