Monday, November 28, 2011

Skye's Dip

Skye, November 2011

As children, we read of “happy endings” and “happily ever after”, and our youthful hearts are full of joy and faith.  As adults, we’ve suffered loss, and that leaves us cynical. Skye was thirteen, old for a Scotty.  We’d raised her from a pup, one of many pups born here on the place, and one of our favorites, always happy and constantly under foot. Early one morning during the week of Thanksgiving, I set out to do my chores. The familiar rattle of the dry dog food hitting their bowls immediately brought Elli and Wallace on the run, ravenous as usual. There was no sign of skye.  I called and searched, expecting to find her napping in the sunshine. She is old after all; still no Skye!  Growing concerned, I called more loudly and began searching with a sense of urgency. Eventually I found her behind the whelping house. Her head was cocked strangely to one side, her pale eyes glazed, and she was struggling to stay on her feet.  She was partially paralyzed on the right side, evidently by a stroke.  Scotties rarely live beyond thirteen. I gently picked her up and carried her back to the house. The next day she was slightly improved.  She still walked with some difficulty, but her eyes were bright and she was able to get around. But we knew in our hearts Skye’s time was growing short. Suffice it to say, over the next several days, old Skye was mighty pampered! Following dinner, my wife frequently goes for a walk and generally several of the Scotties accompany her.  Skye rarely passes our back pond without wading out belly deep and taking a long, refreshing drink.  She’s our only dog who enjoys getting wet. Following Skye’s stroke, I’d remarked to my wife that it was sad to think that old Skye would no longer accompany us on our walks.  The next evening, I was watching the evening news when my cell phone announced I’d just received a photo. It was Skye, belly deep in the pond, enjoying her dip.  Several days later, my wife returned hurriedly from another stroll with the dogs, and announced it was raining and Skye had fallen behind. We expected her to arrive momentarily, and I was to bring her in when I fed the others. Soon after, the sun set, the wind came up, and it began raining harder. And I suddenly realized Skye hadn’t gotten home. Over the next several hours, it rained harder and harder, the temperature dropped below freezing, and my wife and I searched frantically for our dog. Eventually all our flashlight batteries were dead, and we came home soaked and gave up our search for the night. We spent a long, sleepless, guilt filled night, imagining poor Skye, lost, confused, and freezing to death in the rain. It was a long, difficult night. The next day was Sunday.  I searched briefly before leaving for church, and once home, I continued the search, slowly reconciling myself to the inevitable. It was highly unlikely that Skye had survived the night. That evening our son came for a visit, and following dinner, we took advantage of the last thirty minutes of daylight to stretch our legs. As we walked, I watched for the rain soaked remains of Skye. We eventually crossed the pond bank, and as we passed the spot where Skye always enjoyed her dip, I spotted a crumpled, black form, some distance away, across the meadow. I pointed this out to my wife and son and we walked in that direction, prepared for the worst, and already fighting back tears. Approaching the scene, two ears perked up, a tail began wagging frantically, and old Skye struggled to her feet. She’d been waiting for us for twenty-four hours, and she sure seemed glad to see us! We carried her home and warmed her up, and brushed out all her stickers. “Happily ever after” is a tall order, and little dogs don’t live forever, but hold tight to your faith, life’s full of happy endings.
S. T. C.

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