She was born in early spring of 1982, along the back ways of the big city, and grew up
knowing only the lonely existence of a street dog. Her only human contacts
packed drugs and guns. She became pregnant the first time in heat, and sought
refuge inside the fenced yard of a chemical storage depot. When her pups were
born, the kind employees were able to find them good homes - but this big,
sweet, lovable animal was content to remain put. She staked out a place in the
corner of the scale house, and was given the name of the Company where she now
lived -- "Ethyl."
For five years, she lived as the "company dog" - seeking only
love and companionship from the employees and the truck drivers that visited
with her as they waited for their loads. But when the yard was slated for
closing, her future seemed dim. Tough to place a five year old shepherd/husky
mix in a city with so many unwanted dogs.
Fate allowed our paths to cross shortly before the yard closed. I was
at the plant office on business, and when told of her predicament, offered to
give her a home in the country.
She would have nothing to do with it at first. She bolted from my truck, and sought solace in the only home she really knew -
- the old scale house. After much coercing , and many dog bones later, she seemed
to realize that a new adventure was about to begin, and somewhat reluctantly
accepted the ride. During the two hour drive to her new home, I talked to her
constantly, telling her about her soon to be new friend, George, and all the
exciting and wonderful things that lay ahead. By the time we arrived home, she
had become my shadow.
George was at first, a little put out at me for bring home this big
woolly creature. After all, he had been the top and only dog in the family for
ten years. But Ethyl's early days on the street had taught her well about pack
life, and she was only to happy to be number two. Much to my relief, these two
American Breed mutts became best of friends.
George always longed for adventure, he would accompany me on my many
travels - but Ethyl wanted nothing to do with this. She was perfectly content
to stay at home, and seemed to be the happiest when napping under the cottonwood
trees or rolling around the bare dirt. A wonderful neighbor would watch out for
her when I was away, replenishing her food and water, and bring her treats every
night. Sometimes she seemed disappointed when I returned - darn, no more good
George and Ethyl were together for five years. When we left for the vet
that final time, Ethyl seemed to sense that her friend would not be returning.
She seemed somewhat sad and confused by all the fuss I was making, but her eyes
showed the trust she had placed in me.
I returned home several hours with someone new. At first, I think she
thought it was George, but no this dog didn't smell like George - in fact it
didn't have the same parts as George - it was more like herself. If dogs could
talk, I'm sure that Callie was telling her about the dreaded dog pound where she had just been rescued. And Ethyl would respond with tales of the big scary city. Soon, Ethyl was taking Callie on a tour of the back yard, stopping at favorite trees and flowers, and introducing her to the neighboring dogs which could be seen through the fence.
Overnight, Ethyl had changed. From the shy, timid dog who allowed George to run things, she had been transformed into one with new confidence, a leader of the pack so to speak. She now had a following. She was now responsible for seeing that things ran well. The first one up each morning, she made sure that I didn't forget the breakfast cookies, or the daily walks. At night, if I was spending too much time on the computer, she would gently nudge my arm as a reminder that supper time had long passed.
When a stray dog showed up on the doorstep one night, Ethyl was all too happy to welcome this newcomer into the family. I wasn't so sure that a three dog family was such a good idea, but after a couple of weeks, it was obvious Charlie Brown, a white terrier/lab mix, would become a permanent member of Ethyl's pack.
Toward the end of 1995, age started to catch up with Ethyl's body but not her ever loving spirit.
Her walking became labored and at times she struggled just to stand. Benign tumors began growing on her stomach and legs, which she picked at constantly. In May 1996, I fitted her with an "E" collar to keep her from licking the sores. She loved life to much to let these disabilities affect her. Well meaning people began to talk about her "quality of life" or lack of it. To them, it seemed that a dog who could not run, jump and play was . . . well, suffering, and that I should seriously consider putting her down. What I came to realize, and what apparently they failed to understand, is that to Ethyl, "quality of life" was not measured in physical agility. She seemed perfectly willing to accept the physical discomforts of her existence in exchange for that one thing that had eluded her during her early life - LOVE.
By early summer however, it became obvious that her love was not going to conquer the growing pain that was racking her body. On Saturday, July 6, she collapsed, her rear legs paralyzed. She refused her dinner, something she had never done before. The vet was gone for the weekend, so I made her as comfortable as possible in the living room. Sunday, Callie, Charlie Brown and I stayed with her, talked to her, reminisced with her . . . said good-bye to her. Yet her eyes showed a defiance to her fate . . . even in all this pain, she still was not ready to go.
Monday morning, I telephoned the vet to let him know what had happened. After a final good-bye from Callie and Charlie Brown, I put them both out back. As I turned back toward Ethyl, I saw her WALKING toward me . . . toward the back door and the yard she loved so much. This dog, who five minutes before, couldn't move her back legs, was now up and about, and headed for her favorite cottonwood tree. The vet said that although somewhat rare, animals do have the ability to heal in what one would call a miracle. And what a miracle it was!
We were blessed with ten more weeks together. They were not easy ones, especially toward the end, but I would not trade them for anything. Throughout her final ordeal, Ethyl never complained; she would just carry on, with the knowledge that the only really important thing in life is love. Some wise person once said that love knows no boundaries - they must have been thinking of Ethyl. She taught me a lesson in unconditional and unquestioned love, which surly has enriched my life and the lives of others who knew her and her brave struggle.
Sadly, on Monday, Sept. 16, 1996 at 2:37 p.m. she closed her eyes for the last time. Although her big heart had been silenced, she never lost her fight for the love she so craved. She is with George now at Rainbow Bridge, along with so many other wonderful friends, awaiting the day we can be all reunited.
My dear sweet Eth, my Smiley Face, I love you and miss you so much. Your memory and your spirit will live in my heart always. Take care of George until we can all be together again.
Two months after Ethyl passed to Rainbow Bridge, I adopted Daisy Mae - a
4 1/2 year old brindle colored retired racing greyhound. Many have expressed concern that perhaps I am somehow dishonoring Ethyl's memory by adopting another dog so soon after her death. But Daisy Mae is NOT a replacement, but rather a continuation of that special love I shared with Ethyl for so many years. I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to share that love with a new generation of furkids. Ethly's spirit will always live in that special place in my heart reserved for the best of the best.
One of the most moving and heartfelt sites anywhere is Misty Blue - Portrait Of An Angel.
Misty Blue is a retired racing greyhound, and made the journey to Rainbow Bridge a month before Ethyl. I had originally planned to honor Eth's memory by giving a home to a Golden Retriever, however Misty's inspirational poetry from the Bridge convinced me to look for a greyhound. When Daisy Mae and I found each other, I had no idea that she and Misty shared a common bond. Daisy was born June 19, 1992, the same day that Misty Blue was adopted into her new home. I know that Ethyl was pleased.
If you would like to talk about the loss of a beloved pet, please feel free to write me at email@example.com
All guest book entries were lost on Sept. 23, 1997 due to a technical problem.
If you have signed her guest book previously, Ethyl and I would appriciate very much if you would do so again. Thanks.
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