Smokey playing with Lucy, when Lucy was a pup
This weekend I had to have my 13 year-old dog Smokey put to sleep.... she had cancer and had taken a turn for the worse just hours before I was scheduled to go on a trip to Savannah with my fiance. It was Mother's Day weekend, and my daughter had come up to visit from Virginia.
So she, my son and I were all there with Smokey when the veterinarian injected the needle and put her to sleep. It was peaceful, and she was with the people she loved the most.... and it was one of the saddest things I've ever experienced in my life.
Smokey was born in Tangier, Morocco, a mixed breed dog that looked like she was part German Shepherd, and who knows what else... she was smaller than a German Shepherd -- she only weighed around 35 lbs., and she was a beige brindle color... people would always comment on how pretty she was.
She, along with her 3 female litter mates were abandoned in front of my house when they were about 4 weeks old... possibly by people that knew we were American, and would have a soft spot for abandoned puppies. They were right.... we took them in and found homes for all but Smokey. The kids and their dad talked me into keeping her, although we already had another dog, and I was dead set against it until they wore me down.
Smokey had possibly one of the most annoying barks I've ever heard from a dog, and she did it often -- she would stand at the window and bark at every person, dog, leaf, or molecule of air that went by the house. I was constantly shouting at her to quiet down, and it rarely had any effect.
She shed more than any dog I've ever known.... if you looked at her, you could see a cloud of dog hair floating around whenever she moved. This, compounded by the fact that she would not stay off the furniture, meant that I had to vacuum constantly and never really was able to keep up with the dog hair in the house -- it was just a fact of life.
She loved to go into the wastebaskets and take out paper and tear it into shreds on the carpet. If I used a kleenex, I would just flush it down the toilet rather than throw it away, because I knew Smokey would have it all over the living room if I didn't.
She was a true Alpha dog... our younger dog Lucy would always have to eat her treat right away when they were both given dog treats, or Smokey would take it away from her.
And she was hyper... she would bark and jump on anyone that came into the house, and if they went into another room and came back in, she'd start all over again. She would race throughout the house barking and jumping on all the windows if anyone had the nerve to actually walk their dog down our street.
Those were Smokey's faults... but she had good qualities that way outweighed any of the annoying things she did. From the very beginning, she wanted to please us... when we were trying to housebreak her, she would have the inevitable accidents, but would cry and nudge me until I followed her so that she could show me where the mess was, and I could clean it up.
She was without a doubt the most loyal dog I've ever had. One time when I was sick in bed for 24 hours, she stayed by my side the entire time, only going out for bathroom breaks, and coming in right afterwards to stay by me. She was always on guard, and I always felt safe in my house when I was alone, knowing she would be there to protect me if anyone tried to break in. She would stay by me, moving from room to room to check on me whenever I was home.
She loved going for walks and spending time with me in the backyard if I was grilling or working out there. If I was out front mowing the lawn, she'd sit in the front window watching me until I was done. One time, when we were living on a compound in Sri Lanka, I went to visit a friend of mine that also lived on the compound.... Smokey was playing outside. Then we noticed that she was running around the house... around and around, jumping up to peer in all the windows to see if I was in there. This went on for about 45 minutes, until we finally decided to let her in.
When my son was going off to college, I decided to adopt a Shih-tsu from my sister whose dog had just had a litter of puppies, to keep Smokey company when I was at work (our other dog had gone to my ex-husband a few years earlier). But I wasn't sure how Smokey would react to having another dog around.
So I brought little Lucy home to see if that would work.... Lucy was only about 5 weeks old, and very tiny. Smokey - very interested in this small creature, followed her around sniffing her, and apparently decided that she would adopt her. She became Lucy's mentor, and Lucy took all her cues from Smokey from then on.
Many times both dogs would run into the room looking at me like they wanted something, and I would say "do you want to go outside?" Lucy would look at Smokey expectantly like "is that it? is that what we want?" Then Smokey would look at Lucy, turn around and race for the door, and Lucy would follow.
Smokey taught Lucy to go outside to do her business, and she learned quickly. Smokey would always scold Lucy if she stayed outside and didn't come in when I called her... she would growl at her when she eventually came in, and Lucy would lay on her back until the scolding was over, and then they were friends again
So now, I have no dog hair to vacuum up.... Lucy hardly sheds at all. I have peace and quiet in the house... Lucy hardly ever barks. I can probably start buying the smaller bags of dogfood now, and cut way back on the treats I had to buy... Smokey had a huge appetite for treats, and would beg me for them constantly. Since I'm getting married soon, I won't need a dog to protect me anymore -- I won't be a single woman living alone anymore. When my friends come over, I won't have to be constantly apologizing for my bad-mannered dog. But none of this gives me any relief....
I miss her, and my life will never be the same without her. I know.... She was only a dog. But she was a daily part of my life for 13 years, and she loved me and despite everything I found annoying about her, I loved her.
I still have Lucy, and I have no doubt that she misses Smokey too. I hope that putting this all down in writing will maybe be somehow therapeutic. I know that I will get over this, and someday when I think of Smokey, I will only feel good, thinking about what a special dog she was.
At the very least, this is a memorial to her -- she is most deserving of a memorial. She was the most loyal and loving dog I've ever had.
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