The Alone Girl didn’t care if dogs were supposed to be man’s best friend, her dog was her best friend. Moving from Burlington prior to second grade, the family’s dog accompanied them. Mickey was a beagle mix, given to a beagle’s wanderlust. And that proved to be her undoing. While out roaming, she was hit by a car and left to die. Someone traced her tag to our family and my dad retrieved her collar. He broke the news that Saturday morning. The girl sat on her bedroom floor and cried and cried.
Within weeks, a new pup came to live with the family. She was a cross between a standard dachshund and a mini dachshund and she would become the girl’s lifelong friend. As the girl’s family fell apart, her bond with her dog increased. The dog was full of fun and stubborn. She loved to chase the tennis ball. There was a never-ending supply of those because the girl and her brother both played tennis. Truly comical, the dog also chased croquet balls which she was not big enough to grip in her mouth.
The dog raced alongside the girl as rode her bike around the block. The dog listened carefully whenever the girl spoke to her. The dog licked the tears that ran down the girl’s face when family trouble overwhelmed her. The girl was never alone when the dog was with her.
A day came when the dog, about five years old, had difficulty walking and using her back legs. Within a short time, the dog was dragging itself around the house sustaining rug burns in the process. The girl and her brother were taught by the vet how to press the dog’s bladder area to allow her to go to the bathroom. At that time there was only experimental surgery with no guarantee it would work. The family made the painful decision to put the dog down.
The summer came and went and the grief was subsiding. Another school year started. Toward the end of September the girl answered the phone one evening. It was the veterinarian asking to speak to the girl’s mother. Maybe her mother hadn’t paid the bill. The girl didn’t know. Her mother got off the phone and told the girl some astonishing news. They were able to pick up the dog. What? Seems as though the vet couldn’t put the dog to sleep and had an intern working that summer. Each day the dog received hydrotherapy and the feeling came back to her legs. Though not 100%, she was close.
It was as though the dog knew it had unfinished business. She needed to return to help the girl finish growing up. The girl was able to love the dog for another eight years. All good things end, though. One early spring day, when the girl was in college, she took her canine friend to the vet for the last time. The grief is as fresh today as it was then. No other pet has been able to take that dog’s place.