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Monday, June 11, 2012

Gratitude #40

To say that I am grateful for having Abby in my life is a ginormous understatement.

It wasn't always this way. My lab before Abby was Lizzie and she left large paws to fill. As Sylvia, my vet. put it, "Lizzie was a star."

She died too soon - bone cancer. And it was awful. I held her in my arms as she sighed out her last breath. The pain was expected - but unexpected in its immediacy and intensity.

I didn't wait to get another puppy. Within six weeks I brought Abby home - seven weeks old. And as a puppy she was nothing like Lizzie. Lizzie had been a calm, sweet, dependent puppy who wanted to do nothing more than be where I was and cuddle up. Abby, on the other hand, saw the entire world as her chew toy. And she had a huge streak of independence. On the first night, I expected the usual - puppy whimpers, needing to go out - etc. etc. I was prepared for several nights of interrupted sleep. I placed Abby in her crate and put the crate right beside my bed where I could reach out my hand to reassure her of my presence whenever she woke up.

Abby settled in and went to sleep. The next time she woke was when I did at about 6.30 a.m. And she slept through the night every time thereafter - well, expect for that one time a few weeks later when she'd eaten something in the field that she shouldn't have. When I heard a whimper in the middle of the night I knew it was something serious. I pulled on a robe, opened the crate and grabbed her. Of course, Abby was hugely relieved - she wouldn't have to mess her bed - but as I rushed her to the door to let her out, she left a trail all the way from the crate......

Yeah, I know - too much information.

Abby and I went to puppy classes and then the next two levels of classes. Her chewing and biting were awful. She threw temper tantrums when she didn't get her way. She fought me. There was one time when I was about ready to give up. This is the wrong pup for me, I thought.

But I didn't give up. I kept loving her and then - she started loving me back.

Today, four years later, I can't imagine a life without my girl. We walk for about two hours every day. On weekends she comes hiking with me - no matter how high or hard or long she walks with her tail wagging. She is my best friend. We take road trips together and she is an awesome road dog.

In other words, she's my dog. There are many like her, but Abby is mine. And no, she's still not perfect. She never did get over the habit of stealing things - anything. If we come across a group of picnickers when we hike, they are bound to lose something - food, hats, gloves, cameras, mugs - it's all the same to Abby. She has stolen fish bait and an entire freshly caught fish, which she swallowed complete with the plastic bag it was wrapped in. She has stolen countless gloves, empty beer cans and take-out coffee containers. She has run off with tools and cleaning rags, bits of horse harness and dressage hats. She has stolen baby blankets. The list is obviously a long one.

But she's still my dog and I love her - I am her forever home.

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