A few weeks ago we had to make the decision every pet owner dreads:
We had to call the vet for the last visit. Our little girl, Kalalassie’s Cookie Mc Collie, was very sick, and it was time for us to say Good Bye.
She wasn’t really small for a female smooth collie, it’s just that she was Kalalassie’s Be Busy Lizzy’s little sister. And younger siblings always stay the “little” ones. To be fair, Lizzy has always been a bit taller and a bit wider in the chest.
She came to us almost 8 years ago, as an eight week old puppy, and she always felt comfortable with her humans. If we were around, Cookie was well. It hardly ever happened that she wasn’t near me. If you were looking for her it was always a good idea to check with the other family members. Thankfully I work from home, so she really didn’t have to be alone very much. And I am sure she really enjoyed this.
Even though Lizzy and Cookie were half-sisters (they have the same mother), they were pretty different, same as human siblings. While Cookie always wanted to be near her humans, Lizzy is okay on her own. She spends hours by herself, sitting in “her” deck chair and watching our back yard.
Cookie would fetch anything you would throw for her and pick up your glove if you (more or less) accidentally dropped it. Well, most of the time you would not even manage to drop it without her spotting it. For her, this was serious stuff and she would not get tired doing it. She was the dog you could overlook by accident because she would always be close behind you.
Lizzy usually would not pick up things for you. Maybe fetch a ball twice, if you are lucky. But she is a herding dog by nature, that is, she really keeps an eye on her “herd”, no matter how many people are with you.
Cookie would love to play, and I am glad to say there were only a few occasions when we did not end the day with at least five minutes of playing. In a way I sensed that the day would come when I would be so happy to be able to just have one more play time with her.
Luckily I did not realize how soon this day would be here.
Cookie and Lizzy would always play together, as collies or herding dogs play, that is by racing and chasing each other, but never really bumping into each other (unlike, e.g. Golden Retrievers would do). It’s always a pleasure when herding dogs meet and realize they have “play” in common. Most collies I know don’t like to play with dogs who like to play rough.
That was part of why we got a second collie in the first place… So Lizzy would have someone to play with, every day.
Cookie was a very gentle dog. She was a bit shy towards strangers and sometimes a bit timid with other dogs. I do believe that she was happy to have Lizzy with her, who always went ahead and checked out whoever came along. When Cookie wasn’t well, Lizzy would actually guard her from other dogs if necessary. Lizzy can be very convincing when she decides to make a point.
Yes, she did have some annoying traits as well. She could be very noisy, that is she would be barking at people and other dogs when in the back yard, even though she knew most of the people pretty well. She was always pretty excited to go downstairs and usually lots of barking and yelping was involved. And she sometimes harrassed other dogs, that is dogs that were even more timid than her. I really hated this and we worked hard on it. It did get a bit better over the years, and during the past couple of months it actually almost disappeared.
Now I still experience days that are mostly painful. I forget she isn’t with us anymore and expect her to lie right behind my chair, so that I can barely move without hitting her. The bell rings and I expect an outraged dog almost flying down the stairs to see who the intruder might be. But everything stays quiet.
Or being outside and expecting that second dog running along. Having two treats ready, but there is only one dog (who is always happy to take two treats, no problem there, but still…).
But most days allow me to remember in a good, grateful way:
A dog nosing you carefully in the morning, trying to say “I’m up, what about you?”. Or pressing a large fuzzy ball almost into your face, if you did not understand the more gentle waking call.
Hiking with the two of them, happily running along, chasing down mountain slopes and coming back to me again and again to see why I am so slow (hint: two legs instead of four?). Cuddling up after a long day outside, preferably right next to me, getting really close.
And, last but not least, coming home and being enthusiastically welcomed, even if you had only be gone for 10 minutes. And Cookie could be so overjoyed!
Lizzy might look at you, saying “Oh, yes, I knew it was you… No need to get up, right?”.
Most people ask if there is going to be another one. Right now, I can only say there might. But at the moment Cookie is still so present, it would feel like trying to replace her.
Besides, I am not sure what Lizzy would say if I could ask her. Right now I feel she is more stress-relieved than I have seen her in a long time. I am pretty sure they liked each other and each other’s company. They used to play a lot and run side by side. They got along well and we hardly ever had any conflicts, not even about food.
But Lizzy has always been the lead dog; during the past weeks she carefully guarded her and did not allow for any other dog to get too intrusive. I am sure she realized way before us that Cookie was terminally ill. And now she seems relieved.
This kind of helps me to accept that we had to let her go so early. And I suppose it always feels “too early”…
Fare well, my little girl. May you be happy. May you be free.