Friday, August 06, 2010


The baby robins have flown the nest and the newborn bunnies grew at such a fast pace that they too have left their hole and are now hopping around the garden and munching on greens. The yard is quiet in their absence as is our house in the absence of our dog Stella. I have finally washed her last bowl of food and water dish and tucked them away neatly in the cabinet. Dog sounds echo around me; the creak of the stairs, and the jingle of dog collars outside the window. Tennis balls lay in the corner, food crumbs stay beneath the table until I sweep them into small piles. Little grey and white dog hairs appear on our clothes and in dusty corners. Her ashes are contained in a white box sitting on the shelf waiting for a burial ceremony that has yet to be dreamt up.

She died almost six weeks ago, shortly after Maia and I found her laying by the back door with her tongue hanging out and tremors shaking her little head. A seizure, perhaps a stoke. Perhaps a series of small strokes.

She had been moping a few days earlier, lazing around the house, not thrilled when I took her out, but I chalked it up to the boys being away. Once though, she refused to go out. I called the Vet and he said to call back the next day to figure out a time to come, if she was still the same. Well, she wasn't. She was fine, or so it appeared. She had recovered from whatever it was and was bounding down the block with Maia.

So we were completely shocked when we found her that day. I picked her up and wrapped her in towel thinking I could rush her to the animal hospital 3 blocks away. Maia was crying and scared and didn't want to sit in the back seat with her still jerking her head. I put Maia in the front seat, belted her in and put on our make-believe ambulance siren. When we got there, I discovered that the hospital has just closed. The receptionist was unlocking her bike and I darted over to her to ask where the closest animals hospital was that might be open in the evening. She gave a name and street, but my eyes glazed over as I though about Stella in the back seat. I thanked her and ran back to the car, not knowing what to do. I ended up driving back home and calling the Vet as I could see she had stopped seizing and was no longer moving.

I sat in the back seat with our little dog and cried. The Vet would come by the next day to pick her up. So we held a little dog wake that evening, with family coming by to say their last goodbyes. It was comforting to have her home while we could process what had happened so suddenly. And the next day Dr. Tom picked her up in a blanket and took her away.

Stella was a force of nature. Stella was a dominant dog. She didn't care for other dogs and would not back down if barked at, which made dog parks impossible and walks not so relaxing until she wore herself out. She was a herding dog, a blue heeler, and would nudge my ankle when she wanted to go out. She would run in circle 8's in the yard when she was really riled up. And she never really got the hang of giving up the ball in fetch.

But she was a real good people dog. She though she was, in fact, a person. She loved to socialize at parties and take advantage of someone's unattended food plate. She greeted everyone with a friendly licks and would force her muzzle into your hands. She'd lay her head on your lap until she got some good petting time in. She slept with Julian for many years until Maia was born and then she lay in the hall between the two sleeping kids.

We'll miss you Stella Luna! Even the licking and the shedding and the moping and whining. You were a good dog, Stella. And we loved you very much.

1 comment:

Jamie Ponto said...

"The jingle of a dog's collar would be good right now; the jingle of a dog's collar would be fine..."

Or a cat's.

Of course you have all of the empathy I own.