Ok, it's still early in the morning and it's already been an exciting day. Went out for the normal morning walk and Dundee saw a deer. Personally, I find it astounding that deer come anywhere near our place but apparently they aren't the brightest of creatures. Well, being the super hunter he is he took off after it without a glance back to his screaming mother. Let me tell you, a GSP and a deer can travel a lot (and I mean a lot) farther and a lot faster than I can. He had me worried for a bit. I called and called and no sign of him. They'd gone back into the woods so I couldn't even go grab the car and go looking. Just when I'd begun to give in and think I had better start calling the neighbours, he came home. I think he may have scared himself when he realized I was nowhere around. At least that is what I hope. It took me an hour to get the chill out of my bones. I went looking for him in my pyjamas and boots - ie without a coat or anything warmer than a flannel shirt on.
Ziggy continues to have more and more trouble with the stairs. Whenever she has a rough day, I find myself worrying if I will know when the time is right. She'll be 13 in January and she has slowed down significantly this past year. She is now totally deaf. (If you ever want a hard habit to break, see how often you yell out your dog's name when you're trying to persuade them it is time to come back in on a cold day even though you know the dog can't hear a word you're saying.) Chanel too is having the occasionally slow day. They turn 13 within a week of one another as does Spirit, who seems to have failed to realize she's gotten old at all.
It's hard. People often think that with so many you love them less and they are more like livestock. Not true. Mine sleep on the bed with me, cuddle on the couch and spend hours upon hours in my company. I love them all (yes, even Dundee who scared the sh** out of me this morning) very very much. When they have bad days I hold them and whisper that I will understand if it is time to go and that they are not to stay longer just because I wish it could be so.
When we lost Dylan, which is many years ago now, Joanna and I sat down afterwords and said we waited too long. We should have let him go the week before and as a result he suffered. We promised that we would never wait selfishly again for us to be ready. When the dogs are ready, it is time. It's a very very hard promise to keep.
In a house with as many old dogs as ours (more than 50% of the dogs here are over 10 years old), you know that there will be years when you lose several beloved friends. This was one of those years. We said goodbye to my red bastard (his favourite nickname) Maverick (Can Ch Kristari's CodeSign Maverick), Keisha (Janmor Carrieglenn's Da Brat) (both Siberians), Holly (Can Ch Robinhoods Always Forever), and Keats (my old english springer spaniel who was 16 years old). Keats was my first dog and it was probably one of the hardest losses to bear this year. He'd been with me since grad school when we had an apartment together and in many ways he led me down this path. He was never a show dog and bore little resemblance to the beautifully groomed springers you see at shows. He was a typical field-bred spring with little feathering but he had the most beautiful spaniel expression and he loved with all his heart and in return he too was loved with all my heart. He outlived all of his contemporaries - Dylan, Jessie, Tissa, Bonnie and Tess - much to everyone's surprise. He was one in a million and he is deeply missed as are Maverick, Keisha and Holly.
On a more cheerful note - got this photo today of Ryder, Cello's littermate (out of Shiraz and Mac). He shares the family's predilection for stealing various items. With Cello & Shiraz it has always been tea towels???
Merry Christmas everyone!