April 16, 2009
The ad in the paper read, “For Sale: Year old female, registered cocker spaniel. $75.00.” I quickly dialed the number listed and with fingers crossed asked if she was still available. My heart skipped a beat when they said yes and I responded by asking if I could come by in the next thirty minutes to take a look at her. I grabbed my keys, told my husband and the children to get in the car and in less than 15 minutes we pulled into the driveway of the dog owners.
They were in the yard watching their three young children playing in a pile of dirt in the lot next door where a new home was being constructed. Then I saw her. A buff colored cocker spaniel romping around in that same pile of dirt. Her fur was dirty and she hadn’t been groomed in some time but I knew from that moment Minnie was going home with me.
The owners gave us a small crate which we put her in for the ride home. We were excited yet a little concerned because we’d had no time to prepare our home for a dog. When we brought her in the house she ran from room to room, sniffing and barking and trying to get away every time one of us opened the front or back door. Soon I heard my six year old son hollering my name. I raced up the stairway to his room and found him standing on his bed, pointing down at Minnie and yelling, “She’s scaring me!”
My son calmed down, Minnie settled in and our family began an adventure that only another dog lover could possibly understand.
In January of this year Minnie turned fourteen. That’s an advanced age for a cocker spaniel, especially one like Minnie who has had an array of health concerns over the years. A month later she had to have an eye removed due to a tumor. The tumor was cancerous. Her time with us is drawing to a close and our family has already begun processing our upcoming loss.
We have decided that instead of dwelling on what our family will be like without Minnie, we are going to focus on remembering all the joy she’s brought to our family in the thirteen years she has been with us. I’ve begun pouring through old photo albums and pulling out every photo of her that I’ve ever saved. My goal is to make a scrapbook. As I lined up the photos on the dining room table I realized they represented a virtual time line of not only Minnie’s life but of my children's lives as well. They’re pictured along side of her in many of the photos.
My son emailed me a dozen of his favorite photos of Minnie that he had taken over the years. My daughter made the five hour drive home to spend some precious time with Minnie.
We're enjoying each day that Minnie is still with us. Her hearing is virtually gone and her remaining eye is clouded with age. She still sits next to me rubbing her head against my leg begging me to scratch her ears. Her tail still wags when someone enters the room.
As we focus on the past we find we are recalling memories of Minnie that we had forgotten. Remembering brings tears but it also brings smiles. We hope it will ease some of the pain when the time comes for us to let go and say good-bye.