Emmy, our 13 year-old Weimeraner, had reached the point where quality of life was exhausted. She was, physically, worn out. What made this decision so difficult was that, mentally, she was still so vibrant.
I could see it in her eyes.
When you have a dog that has been a constant companion for 13 years, the eyes are as much a communicator as a wagging tail – or, in her case, stub. Up to the very end, she was with us. She had the desire. She had the heart. She just didn’t have the body.
I told Michelle and my two boys, Griffin and Penn, that it’s certainly okay to grieve, to hurt, to be sorrowful. But, more than anything, it was best to honor her with the memories of 13 years of companionship, faithfulness, and unconditional love.
…getting her as a pup and her eyes were white blue. She had gangling legs that hinted she would one day be a big runner, never tiring of pursuing a ball or a boy.
…wherever I went, she was there. We belonged to each other, and she was a faithful, committed friend.
…seeing her trail two boys as they pedaled down the street on their bikes. She wanted to play for sure, but I’m positive she went along to protect.
…her sitting behind me, looking over my right shoulder at Griffin and Penn as they pitched to me sitting on a 5 gallon bucket. She was as good an umpire as I’ve ever seen, and when a pitch flew awry, she was off to get it for us. If spitballs were legal, my boys would be masters.
…her waiting intensely in the outfield grass, head down, one leg raised, waiting for me to throw another pitch to Griffin and Penn as they took their swings. Batted balls would fly by her at Mach-speed, and off she would go to fetch the ball and return it to the infield.
…telling some ball players that Emmy could catch a grounder better than any of them. She would sometimes block it with her chest, and sometimes even catch it with her mouth. It was something that hurt when you saw it, yet she never quit, never let the hurt stop her from what she loved doing.
…her looking at us with those same eyes when Michelle brought home a dog sweater for Emmy to wear. Those eyes pleaded with us not to put it on her, but she always consented. Our happiness was more important than the silliness she felt wearing that sweater.
…her chasing the 4-wheeler as we enjoyed a rare ground-covering snow.
…her eating a whole box of rice krispie treats – except for three. They were gently placed on each bed in the house as if to say, “I ate them all, but I saved one for each of you.”
…her sulking whenever we loaded the car with our luggage to go on a trip. She knew we were going somewhere, and she knew she wasn’t.
…her raising the roof with her loud, long bark whenever the doorbell rang or someone knocked on the door.
…her dropping a rock on my foot, then diving into the river behind our house to retrieve it. Her wagging, stubby tail was all we could see as she bobbed and searched the bottom for the rock. And, she did this over and over and over.
…her loving everyone who came into our house.
Emmy was the best dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. She was, simply put, a good dog. Faithful. Protector. Tireless. Committed. Loving. And, she was all those things and more – in spite of me. Whenever I was impatient or scolding, she was faithful. When I’d really messed up my day, she was committed. When I was confused, she was a great listener. Regardless of me, she was…Emmy.
Her Ultimate Accomplishment
Of all the things Emmy was, her greatest feat was being part of the times we all shared together – for 13 years. That’s a majority of the years my boys have lived, so to them, she has always been family. She was a bond that Michelle and Griffin and Penn and I will always remember and hold in that special place. It was as if she had orchestrated the last 13 years to create unforgettable memories that we will cherish. It is my hope that my boys will tell their children stories of their grandad and grandmother and that special dog.
Perhaps the ultimate way to describe Emmy is the way my friend Mike Lee described her to me in my sorrow – “a grace-gift from God” given to enjoy this life, to make it richer, to be a helper. I agree. As Reverend Maclean said to his sons in the movie “A River Runs Through It”
The Lord has blessed us all today. He’s just been especially good to me.