Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mailman Alert

"Did the mail come?" is the question routinely asked by my husband when he arrives home for dinner (lunch if you live in other parts of the country). Only in the last six months has my answer routinely  been "I don't know" instead of "It's on the counter."

What happened to change my answer?

Our 14 year old Sheltie, Missy, who every day waited with baited breath staring at the front door waiting for the mailman to come so she could attack the door with barking, jumping, and hopefully biting any shoes that were left in the hallway, died.

Missy came into our life not as a choice we made but as a gift from my mother. Mom had been living in Florida and decided to get a dog. She chose a Sheltie just like other dogs we had when I was growing up. But Mom quickly realized she really didn't like having her and thought my kids needed a dog. Therefore, when she flew to help me after the birth of my fifth child, she brought her puppy and then gave her to us.

The kids were thrilled, I was postpartum. Now I had five kids ages infant to 7, a new dog, and a house to move because my husband had just accepted a call to a new parish in a new state.

But we all survived and grew to love Missy, our constant companion. Throughout the years she provided much enjoyment and frustration.

The barking at the door when the mailman came. Or the FedEx or UPS man came. Or when anyone else came, even when David walked through the front door.

The tug-o-war with her bone, the only toy she ever really liked.

Following me around wherever I went.

The fetching of tennis balls out in the yard we would throw.

The mad barking and rushing attack towards any dog, person, or animal seen on the front sidewalk, or church parking lot. Fortunately we had an underground wire fence for part of her life and then when it broke a leash for the rest.

The constant petting of belly and head she wanted whenever we were sitting.

But through it all we loved her and loved to complain about her. In the last year of her life we began to notice some big changes. Her hearing was deteriorating so she didn't always hear the UPS truck or the mailman or toward the end even the thunderstorms.

Her eyesight was failing because she didn't see food which had dropped off the table as quickly as she always used to.

Her fear increased and she was constantly at my feet. If I sat, she was beside me on the floor at my feet. If I was moving around the kitchen, she was in a spot where she could easily see where I was going.

She loved to be with me so much so that during that last year there were times she would not settle down at night unless I was on the couch  and the blanket covering me was half on the floor for her to lay on. Those were nights I didn't like her all too much. And those nights seemed to be increasing.

At the very end we noticed her having trouble at times with her legs or hips. But each time we took her to the vet, she always got a clean bill of health. The last being just two months before she died.

In September after we got back from a week away at camp, she came home from the family who took care of her while we were on vacation. Since they spoiled her rotten, she often moped after coming home from their house. But this was more than moping, she was lethargic and she was not eating.

I tried buying new food, but even that she didn't care to have. She also wasn't drinking very much water. She just wanted to sleep a lot and be wherever I was.

As those last days progressed we knew she was getting weaker and weaker and it broke our hearts. We weren't sure what to do nor when to do it. The kids loved her and spent many hours just petting her and loving her while she lay down. They were so very tender with her.

One Tuesday morning I awoke early to attend  6:15 am Bible Study. I couldn't find her at first and as I looked I finally found her in the basement where she had fallen down the stairs. She was lethargic, but alive, and barely had the strength to love me with her eyes. I carried her upstairs and laid her on a towel.

The kids petted her all morning till time to leave for piano lessons. I'm glad they did because when we arrived home just before one, she had died. Tears flowed freely.

We covered her and put her in her crate till that evening when David was free. Then we all went out to a church member's farm who graciously let us bury her there alongside their beloved pets.

Sadness remains and we are reminded of Missy's absence at various times. Like when coming home at night she isn't there to greet us at the back door. The vacuum is used more frequently after meals since she isn't here to snatch the bits and pieces dropped from the table.

But none more so than when each day I realize I have to answer "I don't know" to my husband's "Did the mail come?" My barking alert is no longer here to remind me.


Nancy said...

It's so hard when a pet dies. I am sorry.

Cheryl said...

Aw, I'm so sorry. Crying from Oklahoma. Rest in peace, Missy. Good dog.

Glenda said...

Thanks Nancy and Cheryl. It seems odd to miss her so long after she is gone. But we do and in the oddest of times and situations. However, we are thankful for no more yard clean-up and hair-shedding in the house. ;-)