The downside of love is loss.
We are dog people.
Nothing against cat people, but due to allergies of the Husbandly Unit, we are dog people.
When we got back from our vacation, our Murphy was sick. So we took him to the emergency clinic, then to the vet, then back to the emergency clinic so he could be monitored overnight, then back to the vet. Yesterday, although we had stabilized the immediate problem making Murphy sick, the ultrasounds showed all kinds of bad things, and rather than have him continue to suffer away from his family on the off chance that he might get better for a few days or weeks, we had to let him go.
He was the best baby-shower present I ever got.
He endured three babies pulling up on his fur onto tottering little fat legs, and bore without complaint ear pulls and tail pulls and sticky handfulls of fur entwined in starfish-shaped hands as he was loved almost to distraction. He endured being used as a pony with the dignity and regal bearing of Prince Philip, but with the warmth of a best friend.
When he was four months old, a strange man jumped the fence from our neighbor's yard into our yard, and I was home by myself with a newborn. He flew like an arrow to the door and when I opened it, all I saw a tan blur as he set the land-speed record for collies. I heard a yelp, and a "Holy Christ!" and as I went to get a softball bat, the next thing you know, our backyard was intruder free. He was very proud of himself that day.
Of course, when he chewed the living hell out of our deck and our brand new coffee table with his tiny puppy teeth, that was not so nice. Well, I thought it was funny, but the Husbandly Unit did not. I was afraid for awhile that the puppy would think "Yewsonofabitch" was his name. But we recovered, and, hey, wood can be sanded.
He proudly laid the remains of moles, birds, and rabbits at our feet. I was honored, because I know they would have been delicious and juicy and crunchy, but he generously chose to give them to us, instead. My three year old had a harder time with this, of course.
Once, when the kids were playing on the back deck, and technicians from the electric company invaded our backyard without so much as a howdedo, he and his brother Max and sister Shiny maneuvered those bozos back out of the yard with the precision of a marching band, but one with sharp teeth and loud barking-- kind of like the Stanford Marching Band. He never actually touched those two interloping strangers, but he let them know he would if they didn't move. When I walked out and saw my gate open and these strange men being alternately charged by two insistent collies, Redneck Number One said to me, "I ain't skeered," and I said, "You should be, Jack," because I think that Murphy would have done whatever needed to be done to protect those babies, although he was really the most gentle heart.
Once when two big men banged on my door late at night while my husband was out of town, he sounded meaner than a Rottweiler, and they practically broke their necks getting away.
Even later in life, when his frisbee-catching, ball-chasing days were a distant memory, and he could barely see and barely hear and sometimes needed a little help getting up in the morning, once he got going he would sashay around the yard: "Aren't I handsome? Aren't I smart? Aren't I a good boy?"
And he was. He was the prince of our house. Yesterday, as they said goodbye, my son said, "I love you Murphy. Have fun in heaven. Say hi to Grandpa and Max," and I believe that he is, right now.