Abby, born in 2007, was taken from her mother at six weeks, because her mother had mastitis. She was tiny and full of beans, and our existing cat, Piggy, kind of moaned and resigned himself to raising this… this… thing.

Blondie and Abby as youngsters

Piggster was a large tuxedo cat with extensive experience around dogs, having belonged to Beloved’s parents prior to their passing in 2000. Piggy taught the puppy as best he could: Abby never got the hang of burying her poop, but she learned to sit as soon as she met other dogs. She’d go and try to politely touch noses as she’d been taught by a cat initially twice her size, and would be horrified when they were more interested in the other end. NICE animals Eskimo-kissed. They did NOT sniff each other’s butts.

Piggy would also sit and flick his tail while baby Abby chased it.

She started a lot smaller than Piggy, but never understood she grew bigger than he was.

I was traveling full time for work, out on Monday, home most Fridays, sometimes away over the weekend as well. We’d decided we were going to crate train this dog, so we could easily leave her at home and know she wasn’t going to get into trouble.

A few weeks later, I got home late one evening and found a lump in my side of the bed.

What the hell, Beloved? I thought we’d agreed…?

“You weren’t here. She was lonely. So was I.”

Baby Abby
She was little but mighty.

I’ve never seen a dog blow a raspberry before, but that was one extraordinary hound. For the past 14 years, whenever I’ve been fortunate enough to sleep in my own bed, the dog has resented it. She’d sit at the base of my pillow and grumble as she was moved.

The other thing she did while a puppy was grab an uncapped sharpie in her mouth and run around the house, thinking it was excellent everyone was paying attention to her.

She LOVED to eat, but as a puggle she had a rather oddly shaped bod: barrel body, broad shoulders, and spindly legs. Having her stand on you while riding in the car was extraordinarily painful as all that weight concentrated into little paws. Ergo, jumping/climbing was difficult, but if there was food at the end of it, by god, she’d levitate if she had to.

We were gathered for a birthday dinner at my folks’ house – I’d made the cake and put it (safely, I thought) on the dining table and went out to join everyone on the patio.

“SHIT!” My sister said, and pointed.

The window to the dining room overlooked the patio, and through it eleven people gazed as the dog, standing on all fours on the table, happily chowed down on chocolate cake. She’d pushed a chair far enough that she could jump on it then get up.

These weekly dinners provided all manner of food for yon hound. Over the years, a large scoop of ice cream went flying… I tried to pry it from her maw but her neck and jaw muscles were too strong for me. Teeth clamped shut, she visibly swallowed a few times, slacked her jaw and belched. Damn dog.

The chicken breast Mummy dropped also did not survive. In fact, it didn’t hit the floor. A blur of blonde fur shot past as, in slow motion, the meat slipped off the fork and descended. There was no retrieving that as the dog disappeared into the office – we just had a glimpse of her ass in the distance as she ran for cover.

My dad’s favorite trick with Abby was to open the sliding glass door to the patio, scream “SQUIRREL!” and watch her streak out after the offending rodent (real or not), back legs moving in identical rotation (she sure ran weird), howling her fury.

Given there’s a two story drey in a giant pine in the back garden, there’s a lotta squirrels running around. When the wind blows hard, they must cling on for dear life.

My dad, who died in 2015, adored Abby, and she right back at him. Abby was never a licker, unless you were sweaty and she wanted the salt, but Daddy loved it when she gave kisses. As he got older and less mobile, I’d lift her up and hold her face to his cheek and croon “kisses for Grandfather, kisses for Grandfather”. She would dutifully give his cheek a slurp, he’d giggle like a little boy, and we’d be on our way. He was the only person who got that kind of attention; after he passed, no more kisses for anyone.

Abby sitting on a chair behind my dad
She loved hanging out with Grandfather

Every afternoon was Granny’s Doggy Day Care from the time she was a pup. My parents, and then just my mother, would arrive without fail at 2pm, and off they would walk for a nap and tea at her house.

For years it was standard tea mixed into watery milk. Recently, though, she discovered the dog thought the peach tea offered to her was rubbish, but chamomile was acceptable. Tea was always accompanied with biscuits, my mother is the ultimate hostess. Then they’d wander around the garden, and come home for dinner.

My sister fosters kittens, and while Abby was so food motivated, cats didn’t interest her much at all. Kitten food = primo eating. Baby cats… something to walk around.

With that kind of attitude, she was perfect as an introduction to dogs for these fosters. We try to return them for adoption with as many advantages as possible, so if the kitties are already dog-acclimated, so much the better.

The kittens would start out hissing and spitting, but Abbs ignored them, going for whatever spilled kitty kibble was around.

Except for once, she started to lose it. I had my hand on her collar, trying to restrain her barking fury, while a kitten was on a chair fluffed to twice his five-week-old size.

What the hell, dog?

BOWWOWWOWWOW! Roughly translated as “I’m going to kill you, evil object!”

The kitten, rightfully terrified, tried to stand his ground.

Abby! What are you… I followed her line of sight, past the kitten, to the window.

Where a squirrel was mooning the dog, dancing with two middle fingers extended. The f*ck-you attitude could not have been more clear.

Oh, hell no. We both moved as one to the door and she was almost through it before I had it open.

Inevitably, she didn’t catch it, and I’m not sure that cat was able to flatten his tail before he went off to get adopted.

She loved to travel with us. Whenever we packed up the car, she’d get anxious to the point that we’d just put her in the car and pack around her so she knew she was going. We also learned to pack for trips without her when she wasn’t around.

Beloved, my mom and I drove her up to Blondie’s house in Northern California a few years ago after she’d had one of her knees replaced. She had to ride around in her “Purple Princess Carriage”, a pet buggy, which was fine with her. We found when she was in it, we were able to go places we weren’t normally allowed to go… including restaurants. She got to love having meals sitting in the carriage while everyone ate, especially since she usually got a sliced chicken breast or something.

Abby in her princess carriage
At a restaurant waiting for lunch.

However, on the way home, we did our usual stop at the Gorman McDonald’s. It’s at the top of the Grapevine (the Santa Susana mountains north of Los Angeles), and we’ve always joked the car knows to stop there, we don’t control it.

Well, we ordered three McFlurrys, those 600 calorie wonders with M&Ms swirled into them. I figured Abby would eat whatever I didn’t, and I’d dig out the chocolate before she got it.

Beloved passed them over to me, and I distributed them to Granny, to Beloved, and dropped the tray on the floor as I took mine.

The barking howl about took off the roof. No one needed a translator to understand that dog was shouting “where the fuck is MINE?!!”

Abby and Granny in the back seat of the car
We’d ride in the front and these two in the back…

There weren’t many things she wouldn’t eat. Tomatoes were one of them. When I first started growing cherry tomatoes, I proudly set a bowl on the picnic table outside in preparation for dinner.

And came back to a pile of soggy, smelly mess. That ducking fog picked up every one, bit into it, exploding seeds everywhere, then spit each out in disgust. I’m not sure why she thought any would taste differently from the one before, but dammit, she popped every last one.

She could open zippers with her mouth. She understood enough to stand on the bag, grab the zipper in her mouth, and pull. Freaking dog, she decided to keep this talent a secret until I arrived home with a suitcase full of food. We didn’t notice when she quietly hopped off the bed in the night… then slipped downstairs where the bag silently sat.

The next morning… Honey? Did you open my bag…?

“No. Why?”

I coulda sworn I brought more home than this…

Then the dog shat shiny protein bar wrappers.

But all wonderful, wacky things must end eventually. In the past week, she’d been doing incessant coughing and panting. She spent a night in hospital then came home, then went back again with the same problem. Turned out she’d stopped making platelets; the vet thought she was bleeding into her lungs.

Given she was by now deaf, blind and got confused easily, with the bleeding issue, continuing to keep our brave little girl going would have been cruel, despite how she always tried to be happy and ready for anything. True to the end, she was eating dried chicken treats up until the time the vet came in with the meds.

She went with a full belly and her pack holding her (she was convinced Beloved was the alpha and she the beta… I didn’t rate).

She’s now with Daddy; he’s feeding her scrambled eggs made with lots of butter and heavy cream. She’s at his feet as he sits in a big old leather chair, reading the paper and muttering about how it’s taking my mother so long to get there. Maybe there is a rainbow bridge there – I don’t know – but I do know my dad is taking care of my baby until Beloved and I get there. I hope she doesn’t get really overweight before then.

Asleep in the Yosemite sunshine

One thought on “Requiem

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