On the farm, as in life, if one lives long enough, you will surely see those animals you love die. That is what we experienced this week. Our little dog died. I know its long, but pour your cup of coffee and have a mindful moment with me.
It was twelve years ago that we found LeeLee, our female Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a companion to our first Corgi, Howard. Quite a pair they were. Unlike most puppies we had been around, Corgis liked to growl when they yawned. They laid on their bellies like a rabbit out stretched with their legs behind them. Often times they would be found lying on their backs snoozing with paws in the air. If there was a pillow on the floor, they would use it to rest their heads.
One of their greatest pleasures for our Corgi pair—that eventually “got married and had babies” we told the grandchildren—was riding the four-wheeler with us. At first, as toddler babies, we had to help them up since their little legs are so short and they didn’t know how to climb on. But it didn’t take either of them long to figure out how to bounce from the ground and wiggle themselves up on the seat. Our ritual was to holler as we came out the side door, “Take a ride.” And they would scramble from wherever they were sleeping to get to the four-wheeler before us. Nothing seemed more fun for them than to tootle around the farm with us.
Did you know Corgis originate in Wales as herding dogs? Their low-rider stature allows them to miss the blow from a kicking cow. True. And herding is what they like to do. It’s bred into them.
On one instance, one of the grandchildren started to run around in the yard hollering as they played. I remember it was Howard that started yipping and running after, I believe, Avah, then jumped up to stop her and nipped her back pocket. It left a mark. But we did in fact train that out of him. “No herding the children,” and he got it.
LeeLee was the one, though, to love fetching. I swear I think if you had the stamina to sit on the porch and throw that tennis ball one more time, she’d have the stamina to fetch it and bring it back dropping it at your feet. Waiting for the praise that followed.
She was the one that loved swimming in the pond. She delighted in standing in the water cooling after a hot day of baling hay. They always came to the fields and hung out nearby or rode the wagon until it was too full.
In time, the years stacked up for LeeLee, as it has for Howard and all of us alike. Her mobility was declining. Her territory, became smaller and smaller and she had trouble getting around. Yet, when she could no longer climb the two steps to sit on the porch with us, one of us would pick her up by the barrel and put her there with dogs and humans alike. She was elated to still be part of the pack. She squirmed with delight as she always did just like when she was a puppy.
There were many days I thought, eventually I might need to face the fact that I would need to make the choice to have her put to rest. Then one day, I decided, I would not. As long as she was not in writhing uncontrollable pain, I just wouldn’t consider it. Her quality of life was still pleasant in spite of the mobility issues. It was a delightful moment for all of us when we put her on the porch, pat her head and smile at her and she’d smile back, so to speak, wiggling her whole body with delight. There was still a strong bond between us.
And then one morning, she was nowhere to be found. I called and I searched. “LeeLee, where are you.” I checked the nearby woods, fearing she got there and couldn’t crawl back up the hill. Then, I found her. Not far from the five places she encompassed while still alive.
Sadly, we got the shovel out and buried her near the garden gate. Said a few words of thanksgiving for her endearing life. I plucked some nearby flowers and placed them on her grave and drove a little cross in the ground. I suppose to sum it up she got the call, “Let’s take a ride.” And off she went. I was glad I let go and let God do the deciding when it would be her time to go. I’m glad we just loved her the best we could in her last days. Silly as it may seem to some, I smile through tears remembering the good times we shared. All-in-all, once again, I am reminded that life here on earth does not last forever, and how important it is to shower one another with love, for you just never know the hour or the day as it was for LeeLee, when there will be no tomorrow, and to give and receive love, truly, is the greatest gift of all. Rest in peace LeeLee. You brought us great joy!