(Celebrating the life of our Chocolate Lab Mabel, who passed over July 16, 2011)
I think I pay attention to the various messages that come my way since I know I have friends in high places who “help me” with my life. Sometimes it is the words of a friend or an article in the newspaper or book, a segment on television, or a song on the radio that gives me needed information. And sometimes one plus one doesn’t equal two.
Last Saturday, July 16, we sent a friend home. Mabel is a chocolate Lab. She was twelve years old. She suffered from many of the ailments that are common to the elderly: arthritis, cataracts and hip problems. She survived breast cancer but had trouble walking up the stairs and her breathing had become labored. The heat of the summer, the eighties, had become hard for her. She had to rest after her walks before climbing the stairs. Then the weather service predicted five days in the 90’s. It didn’t seem fair to let her suffer through the heat.
Our family was without a dog for two weeks when Mabel came to join us as a six week old puppy. The house was too quiet without Cuyler. He was a very expressive dog, but timid. We had decided to let him be king of the house when we sent his mate home. We weren’t prepared for the energy of a puppy. And Mabel had plenty of energy. One of her favorite games was to let me chase her as she ran with a favorite toy around the dining room table into the front of the house and back again. She thought she was a lap dog and didn’t realize that she out grew the lap. We shared her with Sue, our youngest daughter.
Mabel was very smart but she flunked obedience school. She knew what we wanted her to do but she didn’t see a reason to do it. And I sent her to time out in the kitchen. She had her own pillow to sit on and think about what she did wrong. She spent a lot of time on that pillow.
When Sue got married we continued to share Mabel. Some weeks she lived with us, others were spent with Sue and her husband. When Sue got pregnant, and was unable to clean up after Mabel, she stayed with us most of the time.
Mabel loved Christmas. She knew there was a present for her under the tree and waited patiently for us to give it to her, then unwrapped it all by herself.
She loved car rides, playmates, water games, ice cream and going camping. Our grandchildren sat on her. She wasn’t bothered by thunder until a blast went off above her head. From then on thunder and fireworks were not her friends. She climbed the stairs and lay on the floor by my husband’s side of the bed whenever it was noisy.
We didn’t think she would ever calm down. When she was three years old she started to show some sense. Then this winter we realized she was having trouble with her hip.
I was hoping she would spend the summer and fall with us but the hot weather changed our plans. After a picnic in the park, Sue and her husband took her to the vet in their SUV.
ONE: Friday, July 15th, the heat had arrived when I received word that Marion, a friend at our campground, had passed. It was a surprise but I knew she had heart problems.
TWO: Saturday, July 16, Sue’s husband is a doctor and he commented that Mabel’s heavy breathing was an indication of heart problems.
THREE: Wednesday, July 20, the morning news concentrated on the heat, precautions to take and the warning that the excessive heat caused a person’s heart to work 30% more.
I was scheduled to have lunch with an 85-year-old friend, who had problems with her heart. Dorothy wanted to go out but I was concerned for her safety and managed to persuade her to have lunch delivered and we would eat in the comfort of her home. When I drove home from her house the outside temperature of our car was 104.
I kept telling myself that sending Mabel home was for the best. And I really believe it but I miss our girl.
Friday, July 22, my husband and I had breakfast at our neighborhood restaurant before running some errands. He keeps his feeling to himself but mentioned that he misses Mabel too.
Our last errand took us to Costco. I was happy to see that their gas station had opened and I walked over to investigate. When I approached the pumps, I recognized our neighbor, Ava. As she pumped gas, I told her about our decision to send Mabel home. She had seen us out for morning walks and was aware of her labored breathing. Ava is a doctor and mentioned that Mabel could have had a heart attack when we were walking her.
One plus one = four, this time I got the message.