Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hard Goodbyes.

There is a dog under my desk again this morning. It's her last morning there. In two hours, we have to say goodbye for the last time. It's cancer. A 2 inch by 3 inch tumor pressing against her lung -- she can't breathe... And against her esophogas -- she can't swallow. She is so weak that she can hardly stand. Yet when I got up this morning, she did too. She got out from under the bed and made the slow and unsteady walk to my office to lay down for her last morning at my feet.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 years ago, I got a call from a friend. She said, that she knew someone that was moving and had to get rid of their dog. She believed that it was medium to large sized and brown and thought it was a girl.

We scheduled a time for me to see her, and I drove over to Hillsdale, Michigan in my 1983 Honda Accord. A very spirited little black dog came to the door and barked at me, and I remember wishing that it was her... and not the medium to large brown one that I had signed up for. The owner came and opened the door and I asked to see the dog. The other one. To which she replied, "we only have one -- this is her. Her name is Mindy".

I loaded the car with dog dishes, a bag or two of food, treats and a some chew toys. She has never liked chew toys. Just doesn't care. At 15 now, she doesn't have enough teeth left to try even if she did. She had 14 pulled just last year. And that doesn't leave a lot.

So I carried her out to the car in my arms. She liked me from day one, and maybe just wanted to get out of that house. I don't know what her life was like there, but she had panic attacks for years after. She has been loved though, and she hasn't for many years now.

I think she got sick on that first car ride home. It is a tradition that she has kept for many years now. She has gotten better with time and at certain points of semi-regularity has grown to very much enjoy riding in the car.

Early on I tried to rename her "Hebmuller" after Dr. Ferdinand Porsche's original design for the Volkswagen. I even tried "Heb" for short. She wasn't interested. That wasn't her name.

She has been there through many changes in my life. Distractions. Over a decade of path and career moves. A broken engagement. The most rediculous work-a-holic stretch of my life launching a new firm. With special permission, she was under my desk there for 16, 18 hour days. A 2,000 mile move out west. Another start of another company, 73ideas. When I created, I used her as it's face. Every single customer asked what a dog had to do with web hosting, domains and email. I just said "She's my dog"... but did take her off the site eventually.

One of her classic manuvers was the hug. I would bend down and simply say, "Give me a hug", and she would come running over get up on her hind legs and put a front paw on each shoulder. And she would roll over with vigor -- even into her old age. She hasn't done that for a while. Her hips aren't what they used to be.

She was there with me finding the woman of my dreams -- that I get to share my life with. Visiting the Grand Canyon with us on the day we celebrate as our "when we knew we liked each other" anniversary (and our first kiss). She was there for most dates. At least the shakes and chocolate desserts at the house part of them. She was there when the blender exploded chocolate over the wall, the ceiling, and me... and there was only enough shake left for Tracy.

She has been here through a wedding and a remodel. And through the adoption of our (now 2 year old) Skye Terrier mix, Tess. She came alive when we got Tess. She literally became a puppy again for a little while. They curled up under my desk together. They played, chased, growled and tussled. It was as if she was 2 again and not 13.
She has been here with us through the very long summer of 2008. Tracy's back surgery and all of the challenges leading up to it and my acute case of Valley Fever. She allowed herself to be quarantined in a room with me while I was at my worst, not knowing yet what I had.

She's been close when I've been sick and close when Tracy has been sick or in tears. Under the bed and distant when she herself has been sick. There have been days that her head has been on my foot. If I moved my foot, she got up, spun around, and laid back down on my foot. And there have been days that she wasn't interested in "close", and if I put a foot up against her, she would get up and move.

It's been the hardest thing writing this with her still breathing her shallow, rapid, painful breaths at my feet. But I couldn't write it with her gone. It imortalizes her somehow that I tell her story in the present tense.

She's been a good friend and a constant companion through all that life has offered.

She'll always have a special place in our hearts.