Knowing something’s coming doesn’t mean you’re ready for it.
From the day I brought Penny home, I knew she was a short-term gift. She was just turning 12. Yorkies are supposed to live longer than bigger breeds, but anything past 15 is a stretch.
So much of our time with Penny was joyous. Her fierce intelligence, confident willfulness, stunning courage and obvious sense of humor instantly cemented her place in our lives. She was a glorious cartoon character come to life. And she loved us for loving her.
Her age presented challenges which we overcame: we walked her frequently to build her stamina, enabling her, at her best time with us, to walk a full mile on her own little legs. Both of her knees had luxating patellas, so they would dislocate and she would limp. I took her to a holistic vet who taught us physical therapy exercises and prescribed supplements that gave her mobility back. She peed in her sleep, and I found homeopathic drops that stopped it, so she could sleep on and with me in comfort.
Penny was also a wonderful traveler. She loved the car. She enjoyed meeting new people who would tell her how pretty she was. She enjoyed frolicking in grass and sniffing trees where other dogs had left their impressions. We had a sling to carry her into stores with us, so we wouldn’t be faced with having to leave her in the car unattended. And people loved to see her riding in her pink carrier with her little smiling face poking out.
Play could be consuming for her, particularly when I’d buy her a new toy. If it had a squeaker (and most did), she would rip at her quarry with her perfect sharp white teeth until it no longer squeaked. Depending on the object, this could take days. If you tried to take the toy from her, the fierce growl that came from her let you know she meant business. But she would let go so you could grab, throw or play tug of war with her. Playing is more fun with humans to keep things lively.
And humans were her favorite creatures by far. She tolerated other dogs until they would sniff her butt, an offense that would earned a snarl and snap.
Fletcher, our insanely friendly cat, was nuts about her. He’d keep a respectful distance, but waiting for her to sleep, he would creep in for a cuddle at every opportunity. And when she woke, she’d recognize the benign nature of their position and throw her head back down in surrender to his embrace. If he got too overbearing or invaded her space too brazenly, he’d lose a chunk of fur for his transgression.
During the time we spent together, I never took Penny for granted. I would observe her, sitting in her bed in my office, snoring contentedly; frantically alerting me to her need to go out; ferociously engaging me in play; begging relentlessly for her favorite biscuits (or whatever we might be eating); or simply looking at me with love and anticipation. My heart would fill, almost to bursting, with love and gratitude for this adorable little dog. I just loved having her, knowing her, caring for her and watching her enjoy the life we provided her. I am forever changed by this relationship. I will always miss her, but I will never regret the pain of losing her, because our time together was so amazing and rich.
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018, was the day we took Penny for her last visit to the vet. She was ravaged by kidney failure. I was grateful we could help her cross over.
Nothing could have adequately prepared me for this. And yet, everything up to this point in my life has. I am so sad she is gone, but so glad she was able to stay for a bit. Thank you, Penny. I know I’ll see you on the other side.