We think Cady-dog was born sometime in the summer of 1995, because she was somewhere between 3-6 months when we brought her home. If I remember right (ah, and there's the rub--the remember part), she was to be my Christmas gift. I had no idea at Christmas that year what we would get, just that we would get to choose a puppy. Our choice gave us fourteen years of slobbering, chewing down newly planted trees, bed hogging, panting, patient, loving ball of fur.
The Humane Society was particularly busy ... and stinky. But that goes with the territory, doesn't it? If the place had smelled like anything other than the earthy aroma of dog food, dog-after food, and wet-dog fur, then we would definitely be in the wrong place. There is something wildly damp about that place. Someone is always hosing something down, and even in December, I remember the humidity was like being covered in an iced blanket. Besides the goose bumps and the ability to hold my nose with two frozen fingers, the assault on my ears came hard and sharp. So many yips and yowls and yells that I needed both hands to cover the holes in the sides of my head, but who can decide which was worse: to smell that or to hear those? Nevermind with the whole thing, then. I would not back down and I would let all of those senses invade me all at once. I would get the whole doggy experience, and I did.
We walked down the newly-washed hallway, peering in one caged kennel after another. Some of the dogs rose up and danced on their hind legs, their front paws clawing the chain fencing. We petted so many heads; we bent down and had so many tongue licks--theirs, not ours--that we wondered how we were to ever make a choice. The poor puppies scooted down the length of chain door as we put our heads down and moved to the next one.
All of the dogs were awake, pouncing, bouncing. I think a couple of them actually skated, because the floors of the newly washed-out kennels were a bit cold (I don't know that for sure because we are working on a fourteen-year-old memory here). We moved on and on and on. However, with all of this noise and chaos, there was one puppy who was not moving. In fact, she was completely zonked on her side sound asleep.
"That one," we told a volunteer. "We want to see that one."
That one had been a very black-furred puppy who was a little bit dazed to be awakened, but then snapped out of that. She was taken with us to a room to see if we bonded, and by the time we were done with puppy time, I think The Husband and I had come to the same conclusion: any dog who could sleep through all of that chaos was weird enough to come home with us.
And so it was. Merry Christmas to us! She was a female, mixed SOMEthing. We at first thought lab mix, but as she grew, we changed to perhaps a Chow and German Shepherd mix. I had already picked out a name before we had even met, and so we told her that her new name was Cady or CadyDog. I liked the way the name sounded like "katydid."
CadyDog's first car ride home was directly on The Husband's lap, and there they were bonded forever. He was her mother, and he was the one she went to the most, and I am grateful, because he also dug icky junk out of her mouth when she ate something squishy when she couldn't get it out on her own. Cady liked to sleep on her back and you could count down the exact moment when that sleep position would make her sneeze. Is this common in all dogs? I don't know, but it was a funny quirk that we counted on and expected. In our old house on Pinecrest Street, I taught her how to return a tennis ball, go get it, return it. We thought it was funny when she was tired that she would take the ball, chew it voraciously, then become so engrossed that she would plop her rear end down and be in real business. We didn't think it was so funny when she was tired and she would take the ball, chew it, then go find a tree that we had just planted and tear that down like it was a stick for her amusement. She learned eventually.
Cady learned to not chew down trees, to enjoy walks, to make sure all of her people were where they needed to be before she went to sleep, which was usually at the foot of the bed or between us and not giving us any space to stretch out, and to chase down all evil and malicious small animals that invaded our yard. She loved jumping and snapping at bubbles, and her first snow was very puzzling. Eventually, she pranced in it as if she had created the stuff. Cady patrolled the yard and as a puppy, she barked at leaves. Yes, her people needed protection from those pesky, floaty things. She went On Alert and her people would Be Safe.
Along came a new house, then a new baby, and with everything else, eventually old age. Age settled on her from the inside out of her bones and joints until age finally took over everything else. She stopped giving kisses, she stopped wanting to eat, she stopped wanting to be inside with her people. She stopped being our on-patrol CadyDog. She could barely walk, barely see, barely survive. The veterinarian said that the look in her eyes seemed to make no connection to anything right now.
At the last, I tried to get her to give kisses like we used to do.
There was no connection.
So in that end, we said goodbye to our CadyDog. If we counted right, she'd turn fifteen--a good age for such a large dog. Just a week ago, she barked two times when a much younger dog visited our house, and that was the most frisky she'd been in a good couple of years. I'd like to believe that there is such a thing as Dog Heaven, because if any good girl ("Are you a good girl? Who's the good girl? Yes, you ARE a good girl!") deserves to run again and chase birds and bubbles, then CadyDog is the one.
So, for the fuzzy, black-furred puppy who could sleep through the raucousness of a full dog yip-zone, she sleeps again.