(this is sad)
She wouldn't make eye contact but when the shelter worker took her and us to a fenced in pen, she galloped and jumped up like a happy horse. We didn't know until later that for some reason she must have willed herself to do that, her with her broken back and still recovering from Lyme disease.
Stella was found by animal rescue on a rural street in a rural town. Most likely her owner had dropped her off somewhere around there and she had been lost for weeks, maybe several months. Before we took her home, the shelter told us she should be on a ltoeash because she was part hound, but in the seven years she has been part of our family, she has not required a leash at all. She stayed close and she obeyed when we told her to stop. She obeyed when we asked her to lie down. Or come. Or, although a bit reluctantly, to kiss.
She was around seven years old when we brought her home. She was stiff and obedient. For the first year she hid whenever she could, willing herself to be invisible. Slowly she began to let us touch her, to softly sigh when we massaged her body. Slowly she stopped being afraid of the men who came to our house, although with Jessie, our carpenter, she lay outside with him two feet from his buzzing circular saw. Maybe because she was more than likely tied outside most of the time, in her life before us, it was amazing to watch Stella listen and observe. She was quiet and patient, she did not rail against circumstance. She watched and she listened and she accepted. Slowly she came to ask for cookies and chicken and ear rubs. It took her six years, but finally she began to bark.
She perked up when we shook out sheets to fold. She loved nothing better than to be wiped down when she came in from the rain. We had bought her an orthopedic bed because of her back injury, and she settled into that bed with safe comfort. She did not know how to play with toys. She just sat in that bed and watched and listened.
We walked Stella most days in the park behind our house. She never managed the same happy horse gallop but when we reached the gate she came close. We'd walk a long mile and her tail wagged the whole way.
We learned about Stella's history from an animal psychic. She said Stella told her she was a loyal dog and she loved the man who owned her. She said she didn't know how she came to be on the streets alone. She said that was the past and she did not want sympathy. She wanted us to know it would take her some time but she hoped we would be patient because she would be a loving and playful dog.
Stella lost the ability to use her back legs about six months ago. At first she would stumble, later she would fall, and now she cannot walk unless we hold her elegant tail and accompany her outside. She's gone from shorter walks to no walks to room service meals bedside. But not just that. Her eyes are tired. She can't get comfortable. She still eats and loves her cookies and she has great joy when we rub her ears. But none of this is enough.
In a matter of hours her special vet, who will share our grief, will come to our house and we will say goodbye to our sweet Stella with her old soul and tender heart. I can't fathom it, really. All I can really know is how much we all love each other and that it is time.
I have no photo of Stella to offer up here. My laptop has died and I won't question why. I will instead tell you that this brown and black 14 year old dog with honest eyes has had half a wonderful life and she has appreciated all of it.
I want to believe that she, along with Rosie Girl, will be waiting for us in the world beyond worlds.
One more thing: it's Christmas and I am very grateful. I, whose emotions sweep me up like a high powered vacuum cleaner, want to appreciate the next few days, want to celebrate my family and the chances to love that I have been given. I love this dog and I know she loves JB and me. If I'm able, I will hold that fact very very close to my sad thankful heart.