Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A friend remembered

Today I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend.

Almost eight years ago to the day, a colleague delivered a spectacularly beautiful, excitable, affectionate bundle of Australian mongreldom to our front door. Patches' previous owners had decided that they didn't have the time to care for her. We were looking for a dog for our son and there she was. I took one look at those anxious brown eyes and was lost.

She was a funny mix of a dog. Her broad forehead and stocky torso screamed Queensland Heeler, as did her need to protect everything and everyone in the household. That chunky body was perched precariously on delicate Australian Shepherd legs and her coloring was clearly a legacy from the Aussie Shepherd side. She was beautiful, with absurdly large, pointy ears and a kissable pink spot on her muzzle.

Patches also dispelled the myth that mongrels enjoy rude health. Her mixed parentage led to a damaged hind leg, probably from racing like a fool around the backyard. There was the time I was summoned home from work to take her to the vet when she was bitten by something and one side of her face swelled up so much she looked more like a pit-bull. Then, there was the arthritis in her neck and spine. A cruel ailment for such a lively dog. We were lucky there because she only ever had a couple of flare-ups. Our other dog, Otto, kept her young.

I had a host of nicknames for her. Fusspot was one of them, because of her fussy little anxious steps and her worried expression. Plus, if my husband and I ever argued she would push between us and bark at him, warning him to keep away from me. She loved to have her chest rubbed and would rest her paw on my arm to keep me from stopping while she sat there grinning.

Then, there's Otto, a lumbering, good-natured chocolate labrador who was twice her weight. Yet, when it came to rough-housing in the back yard, all Patches had to do to bring him down was dive for one of his legs, pull it out from underneath him and that was the match won. They adored each other. They slept side by side, they cleaned each other, fussed over each other but she was always the boss. Today, Otto is subdued and quiet. He saw his friend get in the car and saw me walk into the house with an empty collar and lead. He knows, somehow, that she's not coming home and his sad resignation breaks my heart.

I'm sitting here watching Otto sprawled on the floor without his fussy little shadow. My eyes are burning a little. The Valley Fever that he seems perfectly able to live with, made his friend cough, killed her appetite and left her lethargic. We're leaving in a few days, we can't take him with us and we're hoping to leave him with a good home. He's young, he has a chance. Patches wouldn't have had that chance. I hated the thought of her spending her last days in a crowded, noisy shelter among strangers. It wasn't right, it wasn't the way I wanted to leave my good friend. Luckily, our vet saw that letting Patches go quietly and peacefully in that special, quiet room in her surgery was the kindest thing to do.

Since I was the one who welcomed Patches into our home, since I was the one she protected and fussed over, it seemed only right that I be there when she left this world. I can barely see as I write this. I know, that somehow, somewhere, I'll see my little Fusspot again.

Love you, Fusspot.


  1. *hugs* I am so sorry. I wish I could help - I've tried and RT'd and talked to people - but I just don't have the room myself and already have a 10yo malamute with hip problems. I truly hope you find a good home for Otto.

    Best of luck and a safe trip!

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry. :( I know how you've fretted about this. Hope you find a good home for Otto. I wish I could help, but I have two enormous lab mixes already.


  3. I feel terrible after reading this. I wish there was something I could do to help, even though you don't know me. I know what it's like to have to give up a pet. And to lose one so soon prior. :( I wish you all the best.

  4. Where is it that you are going that you are unable to take Otto? He doesn't know that patches isn't coming home. Dogs don't understand that their friend has died unless they see them. Otto will be without his friend, and now without you. He will wait forever.

  5. You should post your email address, and approximate location, so that the people who read this blog entry will know if it is even possible to take Otto. We don't know where you are.

  6. I'm so sorry. I wish I could help.

  7. To: Anonymous:

    I realise that when I post a blog anyone can read and comment. It's the nature of the beast, as it were. However, I don't believe that your comments are really necessary or terribly well timed. This is a tribute to a beloved friend not a forum for you to pass judgement on my shortcomings as a pet owner.

    Thank you for reading.

  8. Sue, so sorry for the hard times you're going through. Hugs.

  9. Sue I know how hard this has been for you and as I write this I am in tears as I know how much you adore your pets. I truly believe you did the right thing. For those of you that pass judgement at least have the balls to put your name. Sue you will see Patches again one day but for now he will play at Rainbow Bridge with all the other pets we have all loved and lost xxxx

  10. OH, Sue, I know this must hurt. Hugs to you, friend.

  11. (((Sue))), so very sorry. x0

  12. Sue, I'm in tears, you are so brave. Big virtual hug for now, real one soon xx

  13. Sue, I'd have made the same decision and it's doubly painful, knowing how hard you worked to avoid this moment.

    Hugs to you, you family, and Otto.

  14. Sue, I'm in tears.I am so very, very sorry.
    You are being so strong and I'm proud of how you are managing to cope during such a terrible time.

    Patches didn't suffer...and she would have if you had left her.You did the best thing for her.

  15. Hugs for sweet Otto, Sue, and for you and your family.


  16. Sorry to read your sad news, Sue.

  17. Thanks all, (well almost all) for your kind words.
    Otto went to his new home today. He will be with other dogs, will have chickens to chase and fields to run in. His new owner is going to teach him what he was bred to do, to be a gun dog. I couldn't wish for a better place for him to be. I know he'll be well cared for by someone who knows dogs.
    It's a huge relief for us to know that he's found such a good home.

    Thanks again for stopping by to read and leave your kind words. I really, really appreciate it.