(Albuqueruqe, May 5, 2014):A Tail for the Dogs: Farewell, Hanna Stella
Sad to report, I think it's time to do 'the right thing' for Hanna Stella. This foto was made 6 or 7 years ago. She's been with me since 2003. You can see how robust she was. But she's a shadow of that now. She's not eating, and has not taken nourishment in any noticeable quantities for several days. She's barely drinking any water. Her excretions are fluid, and it appears bloody. She was so weak this morning I had to lift her onto her hind-quarters, and she has advanced rheumatism in the spine, so she walks only with difficulty. There's none of her former spring there. Her coat's gotten dull, too.
I don't know her exact age as, when she literally followed me home 11 years ago, she was already an adult. Had been spayed, in fact. I was walking other dogs (Mischief and Dixie) along the acequia when Hanna strolled up with about 6 feet of clearly chewed-through of stout, manila rope around her neck and trailing along behind her, while we were crossing a busy thoroughfare (Griegos NW). She met no resistance from the other two when she attached herself to us and followed along back to the casita/perrara.
No leash, no tag, no chip. I tried to find her people, or to find her a home, neither successfully. There's an old adage I've heard all my life: Don't have more dogs than you have hands. She was a dog too far, as it turned out.
Hannah-Stella, I called her: black as pitch, head to toe to tip of tail. She's a Lab mix, with hound proportions. She loved to cavort; she seemed to dance, as she sprang and spun when the dinner pan showed up.
She was not at first aggressive, but eventually she and Dixiebelle (foto#2) didn't get along. I think it's because Hanna grew very possessive of me, but Dixie was "senior" dog. They battled any time they happened to not be separated. Between them, they inflicted a couple dozen puncture wounds to my hands and lower arms. When Dix passed, Hanna transferred her hostility, jealousy and animosity toward Budreaux, the Pink-Nosed-Pittie (see last foto). I had to separate them, too, though not with the loss of so much blood.
She was a very loving girl, though reserved. She didn't seem to need to be close all the time. I named "Walled-In Pond" for her. I had to fence my fish-pond in to keep her out, because she leapt in to chase the fish, if I didn't keep her out. She was assiduous in her subsequent "job": To patrol the edge pond and prevent the escape of any of the fish. She was serious about it, and none ever escaped past her that I know of...
I've called the Vet. She'll be here tomorrow. Hanna's not in pain, or even serious discomfort, that I can tell. But they have their ways of telling you when it's time. And it is.
When consoling others in similar straits, I always refer them to Robinson Jeffer's masterful, haunting elegy: The House Dog's Grave. Here it is:
(Haig, an English bulldog)
I’ve changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.
So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.
I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the nights through
I lie alone.
But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read- and I fear often grieving for me-
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.
You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying.
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dears, that’s too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided….
But to me you were true.
You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.
Robinson Jeffers, 1941
(The Next Day) Yer ol' Perfesser is quite touched and moved by the out-pouring of sympathy from some several hundred of you on the news that I have had to send my good, ol' grrrl- dog, Hanna-Stella, dancing queen of the night, on ahead. Her systems all seem to have failed simultaneously, and she went from robust, vibrant health to so completely debilitated a state, in about a month, so it seemed a kindness, and a necessity to let her go..
Again: I cannot say thank you enough to all those who sent good wishes and sympathies. Yer a great bunch!
Really! No shit...