Christmas Eve 2006 I woke up to a weird sound, a kind of sharp yap that I hadn’t heard before coming from the next room, but given the context it didn’t take long for me to realize that we were waking up to a puppy the next day. I still remember trying to hard to play it cool like I didn’t know when we went downstairs the next morning. My sister Sarah immediately saw the kennel with the tiny puppy moving around so excited by all the activity. I, coolly, ignored the temptation and picked up the new skateboard waiting for me, only ‘noticing’ the puppy after 30 seconds or so. “Calvin, how long have you known?” My dad couldn’t be fooled.
That was how we met our Lady Bug.
While my mom and sister were trying to figure out what a good name for her would be we all took turns holding this tiny puppy who could fit in our two hands and playing with the various toys we had gotten with her. I’m pretty sure we still have one or two of those, but it was hard because she was so destructive she never had a toy last without holes more than a day or two. She had such a strong bite, even when she was tiny it was legitimately hard to win a game of tug of war. I would always feel kinda bad but mostly impressed when I would lift her off the ground during a game and she would support her weight with her teeth would batting an eye. Or when I would start to spin her around on a tiled floor and then let go, and watch her momentum keep her going for a few rotations. As soon as she regained her balance she would go right back to the game.
Her favorite game, but our least favorite, was always just running around the coffee table while we chased her. It was such a boring game, but she loved it completely. It never ended because she stopped, always because Sarah or I just got sick of running around the same spot in the living room for 5 minutes. And I don’t know how many dogs you could say this about, but she never fell for the fake throw when playing fetch. She always knew when we were trying to trick her, and came running back as if to say “I see what you did there, now throw the damn ball.” Most of the time, however, you’d find her sitting on the couch, taking a nap next to Sarah. I always joked that she was the biggest couch potato in the house.
Lady was always a bit, well, given the circumstances I’ll say fearless, but during the times I was less forgiving I would call it mean. She had a habit of lashing out at anything smaller than a young human, no matter how out-matched her tiny frame was. It certainly got her into some trouble over her lifetime, but somehow she managed never to cause too much damage, minus a few scratches on infants Sarah would babysit. My sister insists that she grew out of this habit in her later years, but I always knew it was a streak that was there. It was just part of her personality, although she did eventually learn to behave with the other pets my family gathered over the years. But to us, her family, she was as sweet as could be, and no matter how many times people (including my wife) told us how disgusting it was we always loved her excited kisses.
Last night Lady had to be put down. She’s been having health problems over the last year, mostly related to terrible breeding, and finally Sarah had to make the decision to let her go. It was a hard day when we all realized that it was time. I FaceTimed with Sarah and Lady yesterday to say goodbye. She couldn’t lay down because her airway kept getting blocked, so she hadn’t slept in quite a while and she was very tired. And to make things worse it was raining, and she always got scared and hid in the bathrooms during storm. But in a way it was appropriate. She has lived through hundreds of storms in her life, and I’m sure each time she knew it would pass and that everything would end up ok. Her last storm was no exception.
The last time I saw her was beautiful. My whole family had gotten together for my dad’s birthday last summer, and after watching a movie and playing some board games everyone but me took a nap. I sat on the rocking chair and Lady snuggled right up next to me. She sat there and we rocked together for about an hour. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day.
Thank you for the good years Lady. Goodbye.