We’re spending the weekend at our favorite “backyard” state park, primarily because it is convenient and reliable. We know what to expect. Because this is “spring break” for many families, the park is “sold out,” although there are many unoccupied sites. The brilliant orange gerbera daisy, pictured here, adorns our table, a product of “Fresh Flower Friday,” or FFF, as we like to call it. On a gray, gloomy Saturday, it offers a refreshing punch of color and a constant reminder to “think Spring.”
This is our first camp-out without our beloved lab, Gunny. We lost her a week ago, due primarily to kidney failure and dementia, and we’re still trying to adjust in so many ways. We no longer have to accommodate a 60-pound dog in our tiny space. We no longer have to get up several times during the night to take her outside. We no longer have to restrain the other dogs to keep her slow pace.
By now, Baxter and Ranger have sensed that something is different. They are melancholy; clingy. If Gunny’s absence prompts their mood, it certainly prompts our reflection.
Gunny was a sweet old gal. A big, lumbering lab who seemed to have no idea that her powerful tail could sweep away a candle on the corner of the coffee table or that her drool could leave a lasting mark on a chair or ottoman. She had only to gaze at you with her big, brown eyes, and all was forgiven, if not forgotten. Now she’s gone, and our little circle has grown smaller.
In many ways, this marks the end of an era. Cliff brought Gunny with him to our first apartment. I had Buddy at the time, and our little “blended family” soon bonded. Eventually, we added Teacup and Baxter to our pack, and we were a happy family. My Buddy, as the oldest, was the first to go, followed by our sweet little Teacup (due to breast cancer, poor love). We always knew Gunny would be next, but we didn’t know how or when she would leave us. We eventually adopted Ranger, because we knew Gunny would leave us and we wanted Baxter to have a companion. We waited and worried and watched. Finally, when we learned that Gunny had lost 75 percent of her kidney function and nearly 8 pounds in five months, we decided the time had come.
She was a faithful friend. The folks at the SPCA couldn’t have been kinder. But, in the end, it came down to Cliff and me in that small room, lying on the floor with her as she slowly drifted away from us, and we whispered sweet, loving words to her. Finally, I told her to go meet Buddy and Teacup, to give them our love, and to wait for us until we could be a family once again.
It’s all silly and sappy, I know. But those thoughts and sentiments brought us comfort in a time of great sadness.
And now, we’re thinking of Spring. New life awaits.