Dolly chose us. When she greeted us by gently placing her head in my wife’s lap and then later placing her head in mine that first day, we knew she was ours. Since the day we took Dolly home from Beagle Paws in early 2006, we also knew her time with us could be short. That did not deter us. Dolly was already a senior dog and while she lacked the desire to fetch Frisbees and play catch at that stage of her life, nothing made her happier than cuddling with us on the couch or taking a leisurely stroll down the street to smell the smells, roll in the grass or snow and heckle the neighbourhood cats. For Dolly, it was always about who she was with.
I have affectionately referred to her as my beagle-shaped shadow these past four and half years, a title she acquired by following me everywhere I went and patiently waiting for me when I was away. As my wife has said many times, Dolly was our furry baby. Her head was high; her tail would wag in pride and joy. She had certainly found her forever home. Every high, every low that we went through in our lives these past years, Dolly was there. Dolly was comfort; Dolly brought peace. She was steadfast and consistent in her temperament and was always just waiting for affection and approval with her paw in the air looking for an arm-pit scratch; her favourite!
It’s been hard to watch Dolly age, grow weaker, endure pain. A swift spring up the stairs had been replaced with a pleading look for help to be carried. Those seven stairs that separated her from the people she loved must’ve seemed like a mountain. That greeting at the door with head high and tail wagging had been replaced with a head hanging low and tail firmly depressed between her legs. Although she couldn’t help doing her business indoors, she couldn’t hold it anymore. We knew she tried her best, but she was still so ashamed, she still believed she let us down. The doorbell ringing once brought her to full alert and attention. She’d scout the area intently until she deemed the visitor fit to enter. These last days, the chime of the bell meant enduring the pain of getting up from her bed and walking to the door. Most of the time, she could not even make it past the bed. Arthritis had crippled our poor girl. A weak and failing heart made even the simplest tasks difficult. What pain she showed could be only a fraction of what she felt. Dolly was once so strong, but always so brave.
She trusted us to be there for her, to make decisions that would enrich her and protect her. In turn, she enriched our lives beyond words and watched over us every day. Realizing the pain Dolly was in came suddenly and abruptly. We couldn’t let her hurt anymore. We couldn’t let her endure pain and suffering just so she could please us, because she would have. No amount of discomfort would have ever prevented our sweet girl from seeking our favour.
We made Dolly a promise a long time ago that we’d never let her get to this point. She made us so proud. She made us so happy. She never let us down. Run fast, Dolly with no pain and suffering. Hold your head high; wag your tail with vigour and pride. Know that our hearts are broken because we miss you and love you so much. Know that there are no words that can describe how happy you made us and all the joy that you created. We’ll see you again, our furry angel, and when we ring the bell at the Rainbow Bridge, take those stairs three at a time and jump into our arms again!
Love your forever family,
Dion, Misty and Leah Rowsell