Sunday, February 8, 2015

on Sandi, the best dog

Ok, let's be honest. Sandi was not an easy dog to have. As long as Homer was around she would walk right beside him. When he would look for her she would already be there, under his feet, her 9 pounds just out of sight range for a moment.

She was not happy when we added additional dogs. Homer is holding her in this video, as we tried to take a photo with all the dogs, she is quietly growling and occasionally snapping louder. She never, ever was a member of the pack. She belonged to Homer and that was that. A one person dog.

I knew that only when he was off farm would she pretend to tolerate me. If he was here she paid me no mind. She ended up on our sheets I had removed from the bed, I took this picture to send to Homer, asking him to get her back off of them. So the sheets could go into the wash. She would snarl and snap at me...she bit me more than once. I needed his help to move her when she had claimed a spot.

This was when she was mad at me. Would not make eye contact, or get up from her cushion for a treat.

And other times she was amazing to witness. A pure athlete, all muscle. Never in her life was there an ounce of fat on her. She would run like the wind. Jump higher than waist high, on the hunt for a critter or for Homer. We saw her pull a groundhog out of its hole and kill it. Mice, moles, voles never stood a chance next to her. 

She would parade the farm with what she had caught. She had a specific, proud yip that she made, and she would show what she had caught to every other animal and person here. Puffed up with pride. The first time I witnessed her dispatch a mouse I needed a cold drink and a paper bag to breathe into. It was so intense.

In October she was looking a little feeble. For years she knew Homer's morning routine, and would wait until he kissed me goodbye before she would hop out of her basket to go out with him. When it got cold last fall she would not go with him, snapped at him. "Ok, you sleep in now" he said to her. She never left early with him again, after years of a daily routine.

She came to us at age 9 in February of 2010. Her previous owners were so surprised that anyone would take an old dog. She was perfect for Homer, as she taught him well to care for dogs. She changed him and helped him see the value of a constant, loyal, dedicated companion. She was that for him.

When her previous owners dropped her off they both cried. Big, ugly cries. They could not have her anymore. And the woman told me Sandi would never be my dog, that she would take Homer as her person. And to never allow anyone to touch the dog unless she initiated the contact. That Sandi would bite them, go into full on attack, snarling, snapping, scary dog mode. 

We warned everyone. Most listened. Some had to test it because, well, some people hate to be told what to do, or think they have a way with dogs. Or, what happened most times: "she's so cute, I just forgot that she was mean".

She did her own nails. She bit them, kept them short and neat. I knew she was on the decline when I could hear her nails clicking on the floors.

She passed away today, quietly, in her favorite basket. We had considered taking her to be put down. But we knew a trip to the vets office would upset her, and she was little enough to carry her around, she made small messes and, truth be told, we had no desire to cause her any trauma. She was just shy of 13, which is a good life for a dog that was a stranger to us for most of her life. Her passing was quiet. She had us both well trained in how to treat her with respect, and we did our best to do so.

A year ago we attended a party at the home of the vet. They had a handful of dogs. One was an old dog, barely walking, tufts of hair missing, spine kinked up, cataract eyes, almost deaf. It was so reassuring to see that even the vets dog gets a chance to hobble around, we decided right then we would do that with our dogs. Age out gracefully. Go peacefully, here on the farm. We expect Sandi is at the pearly gates, schooling everyone in how and when to touch her, informing all she will not, no how, be a member of any dog pack. And today it was our turn to cry big ugly cries over losing her. 


  1. Very poignant! Sorry to hear about your loss. Be extra good to yourselves as your hearts heal. <3



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