I’ve always said that when my dog Wonder dies, she’ll just keel over. She is full force or nothing at all. We were a pair from the start.
I saw an ad in the paper (Yes, an actual printed paper.) for Weimaraner/Labrador puppies at a rescue home in Clackamas, OR. I’d always wanted a Weimaraner but had heard they were a handful, high-strung and hard to deal with. I knew Labs were sweet and not very stressed. The combination sounded perfect.
When I arrived in Clackamas, the woman that owned the rescue talked to me about her program. She had a small number of animals and only took on animals that were in danger of being euthanized. The two Lab/Weim puppies she had were from somewhere in Washington, a litter of ten that had found homes for eight. The last two were going to the shelter and they didn’t seem to have much hope.
She explained that at 10 weeks old, both puppies were crate trained and with command could – sit, lay down and shake. They were also free feeders, they ate when they wanted to and never gobbled down food. “All that at ten weeks?” I said – she replied “I work hard to train the dogs I bring in so they are guaranteed not to be returned for bad behavior.”
She opened the door of the crate and the two sweet black pups with bright brown eyes came tumbling out. Their giant heads and large paws leading their tiny bodies end-over-end. I laughed as they circled me nudging my legs with their heads, paws and all their other parts they couldn’t yet control. I sat down. Both ran around me. The male had a larger head with a labrador shape and a hard ridged brow, the female had a softer brow and longer ears like the Weims I loved so much. The male pushed his way under my hands for pets and then wandered off. The female circled me and then climbed into my lap and laid down. My heart melted. Story over. She was the ONE.
It took me three days to name her. I called her everything I could think of but the one thing she always tilted her head to was Wonder. Little Wonder Girl. and we began.
Over the years she’s seen me through a whole mess of things that were all about me learning to take care of myself first, finding my own voice, and finding my way to run my own business. Through hours and hours and hours of writing and reading – she waited patiently for me.
She mirrored my emotions always, when we were leaving the only home she ever knew and I was super stressed she barfed on the floor right before every real estate showing. Just as I wanted to barf over the whole thing. Sometimes when I get stressed I get dandruff and so does Wonder.
She never chewed on things I didn’t want her to chew on, she never ran away, she never expected much of anything at all, just me and love. She was a funny dog, intense and curious. always. She once picked up a Scottish Terrier and shook it so hard I thought it was dead – but it wasn’t – thankfully. She also thought inanimate statues of animals were real. We once saw a rabbit figurine in someone’s lawn. She stalked it, walking slowly, slowly up to it and then slammed her head into it and was startled that it didn’t move. She circled a giant art installation that looked like a bear at a park in terror, until she got close enough to see it had no fur.
She saw me to this place – where I know myself. I have a life full of love and am grateful for every SINGLE day. Wonder was there through it all.
The last 13.5 years of transition and change has not been easy and just when I thought things were near perfect the universe looks down and says – REALLY? How about this? Wonder dog dies. Story over again.
In the end she did keel over. She seemed 100% normal right up until that day – running and galloping after pooping – her favorite past time. Ten minutes later, she collapsed, unable to move. I rushed her to the vet and they brought her back. And then again, a week later she collapsed, rushed to the vet. Her heart – filled with fluid and burst – she had to break her own heart to go.
I was lucky to have time to say goodbye, to spoil her, to love her every minute of the day. I’m heartbroken too but so VERY grateful to have spent 13.5 years with devotion and love and companionship that never faltered, even when I did. She taught me to stay curious. She always showed up. She taught me to GO! or don’t go at all. She always smiled when she ran. She snuggled up to me when I was sad. She held my hand through it all, her paw always reaching out for me.
Wonder dog – you’ll always be my first dog – my best dog. We got through it. We carry on even if it’s dragging ass until we feel better. I know how to do this now. Grateful.
Amy I just read your article GRATEFUL, AND i GUESS YOU KNOW THAT i CRIED. How lucky to have a love like that in your life. Thank you for the posts that you write. I enjoy them so much.Keep on writing please, you are so good at it.
Thank you Mary – it gets me through. I can only write my way out of it or as I say – right my way out of it.
Thank you for sharing your friend’s trip to the Bridge. Hope that soon you will have more happy memories of the good times ya’ll had togeather. Mary G
Thank you Mary.
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Hi – I just read this and having just had to put my 8 year old chocolate lab down a few weeks ago – he too had an on/off switch, the tears all came back. Thank you for sharing the story of your Wonder, and the wonder that she and all great dogs bring to our lives.
Hi Amy, I am in tears. So sorry for your loss; yet, so in awe at your gratefulness. My dog is the best thing I have right now. She’s there for me in so many ways. That your dog had to break its own heart to leave, well, that broke my heart. You are an amazing person, and an amazing writer. May Wonder rest in loving peace within all our hearts – yet just that more deeper within yours.
Hi Miche. Sorry to put you in tears, it makes me cry every time. She was the best. Thank you for the kind, kind words. I miss her every minute.
It’s okay. My connection with dogs runs deep, and it’s bound to happen.
Not sure if you find this interesting but my dog has been put on Prozac for her behaviour, she is a real scooby doo, was the runt of the litter, and is even scared of the wind. She’s a boxer, so that is unusual for them. Her fear comes across as aggression, and I have to watch her so carefully, but she has improved in the last year. She had some behavioural training, and I’m now looking for a better trainer. I’ve just moved to a beach house, and I’m feeling so much better, so I think with me being more relaxed, that has helped her as well. I heard the expression ‘fur kid’ used recently, and I think that sums up ‘our’ relationships with them well. I’d love for you to post more photos of Wonder. (It’s a beautiful name too.)
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