Friday, December 16, 2011

The Best Dog Ever

July 12, 1997 - December 16, 2011
The Best Dog Ever

She came to me a wee little ball of black and white fur, the only dog I would ever raise from pup to old age. I didn’t know about the thousands of homeless older dogs just waiting for homes. I wanted a puppy, the local SPCA didn’t have any, and I’d never heard about rescue organizations. And so I answered an ad in a paper, went to the house, gave them $50, and the backyard breeder handed her over, no questions asked. They said her mom was a border collie and her dad a rough collie, and she was due for her shots.

She threw up in my lap on the way home.

She was the Best Dog Ever. She never chewed a shoe or destroyed a piece of furniture, she didn’t bark or whine or create havoc in the house. Her only bad habit, one I was never able to change, was her tendency to paw people’s knees with her very strong claws. She was just saying “Pat me, please pat me!”

We went through a lot together, Charley and I. She stayed by my side when I marked exams late into the night, and she rose at dawn when there were piglets or foster pups to be fed. She camped with me and travelled with me.  She never much liked riding in the car,  though a lakeside or seaside destination made the travel worthwhile. She loved to gaze at the water.  She loved farm life almost as much as she loved beaches. Give her a beach or a pasture, and she was content. 
She accepted well the steady stream of dogs who came and went in our house, though she never became ‘best buddies’ with any. She thought piglets were far more interesting and much easier to herd. However, she was always sensitive to my emotions, picking up on my stress, my sorrow, my joy, and so she grieved with me for the many dogs who passed on before her, and she celebrated with me when fosters found their forever homes.

She was an independent missy not unlike her mama, and preferred to retire to another part of the house away from the action.  But in the past few weeks,  I would wake in the night to find Charley standing in my bedroom doorway, leaning against the jamb. “Mom? Mom, I can’t sleep. Can you help me?”  I would give her some meds, and lie down with her on her mat, and she would shove her nose gently against my cheek or under my chin  - “Thanks mom" -  as she drifted back to sleep. It was only recently that she allowed Sadie, who has lived with us for three years, to lie beside her and watch over her while she slept. We all knew she was getting weaker and would soon be leaving us.

Last night she told me it was time. And this morning, in our home, with my arms around her, she slipped quietly from sleep to death and took a chunk of my heart with her.

I have shared my home with her longer than with any other being, canine or human, except for my parents and my daughter. Fourteen and one half years. And I wish for fourteen and one half more.

Charley-girl, you were a good, good dog and a good, good friend, and I shall miss you and love you forever.

Charley, age 3 months

Charley on the beach

Charley's signature smile

A Thousand Tears

A thousand tears have washed my face
Since you left home today.
A thousand sobs have pierced my throat,
A thousand sorrows stay.

A thousand stories come to mind
Of all the things we’ve done.
A thousand walks, a thousand parks,
A thousand days of fun.

A thousand pieces is my heart,
So shattered by your leaving.
My friend of over fourteen years
Now gone, and I am grieving.

But for each tear that I have shed,
For all the sobs and sorrows,
A thousand memories remain
To comfort my tomorrows.

 J. Ballard  (c) 2011

Run free, my good, good dog.


Brigid said...

My heart aches for you, Jean. A dog's love is like nothing else - and losing her is like losing a piece of yourself.
Thinking of you...

Karen said...

So very sorry for you loss, Jean. I know what you're feeling, and it hurts beyond measure.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for the passing of your friend. She will always be with you. I really feel your pain and know what it's like to loose the perfect dog after so many years. Charlie is a lucky girl to have had you as her momma.

Anonymous said...

My apologies, I realised I misspelled Charley's name.

Anonymous said...

Jean, i'm so sorry for your loss today. Charley was a big part of your life and you hers. I shed tears reading your memorial of Charley. may your memories heal your heart. take care of yourself and the rest furbabies.sadie was good friend to stay close to Charley in her last months. may charley run free and pain in peace charley


penelope said...

Jean-- I have never met you except through this blog, but I want to extend my condolences to you for the loss of your dear Charley. I had a "best dog ever" once, but she tragically died when she was only a year old -- she was perfect in almost every way! You are so blessed to have had yours in your life for 14 years. I know you gave her the best life possible and she knew how loved she was. You will see her again, of that I am sure-- just as I know she still watches over you. Hugs to you and Sadie.

EvenSong said...

So sorry for your loss, Jean.
Sandy sends her doggish grin, and the horses send hairy hugs, and I, my condolences.
Rest in Peace, good, good dog, Charley.

Wendy Hamilton said...

So sorry for your loss, Jean.
You gave Charley the kind of life and love dogs deserve.
I know the sadness and grief felt over the loss of a loved dog.
Your Charley was such a beauty.

Irene said...

Oh Jean ... my condolences. Even knowing the end was near, how can one ever prepare for the death of The Best Dog Ever.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Your love and your grief for Charley melted so completely into each other, they formed one raw emotion that has no name, but that many of us have felt. It was impossible to read your words and not share tears, almost as though they traveled through cyberspace. How I wish Charley could have lived with you forever. Losing such a treasure is so painful, one wonders why we would ever subject ourselves to that hurt again, but the last line of your poem reminds us that the spirit of Charley will live on, alive and well in your heart. RIP, dear Charley. You brought your Mama great joy, and I know it was returned a thousand fold.

georgia little pea said...

Oh Jean, no, not another one :( What a dreadful year this has been for losing friends.

14 and a one half years is a long time to have a good good dog in your life. You were lucky. It sounds like Charley knew and was ready for her next adventure.

I know there's a big hole now, right where Charley used to sit. Nothing's going to make it go away except time. So I've nothing more I can say really, except I'm sorry for your loss. I'm giving you a big virtual hug and one for Sadie too, for the loss of her friend.

Much love and peace xox

Pauley, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

I am so sorry. It is if everywhere we look right now sadness is plenty. Without a doubt dogs are our best friends giving us more than we even ask for.While we know that nothing lasts forever, you can never be ready for such a friendship to end. May you find comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain & has found peace.


MrsB said...

I am just so very sorry.
Someone sent me this when my beloved MinniePie - the best cat ever - left for the bridge in Sept of 2010.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

And it was true - I was lucky to have her, just like you were lucky to have Charley.
Good dog, that'll do. Time to rest.

Dawn said...

Jean, I am crying for you and Charley as I write this. We know our good, good dogs/cats/piggies/etc. can't be with us forever, but oh, if only they could.

Your poem is lovely, carrying all the love you have for Charley. She has gone ahead of you, but surely you will see her again. Meanwhile, your heart, broken now, is much richer for her love.

Jean, know from these messages and the support of your friends that you are not alone

Anonymous said...

Jean, there's nothing I can say that hasn't been said. I gave my Riley extra cuddles last night, thinking of Charley.

Hugs to you and Sadie,
Deb S.

Funder said...

I'm crying for you and Sadie. I know you two are so sad today. Charley was the best dog ever!

Caroline said...


Cathy, Che and Jeepers said...

So very sorry Jean. We share your pain.

Sheryl R said...

I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved Charley.

Your poem is such a wonderful tribute to The Best Dog Ever.

Rest in Peace, sweet Charley.

Anonymous said...

I know how much you loved Charley, Jean, and how much she loved you.

That kind of relationship doesn't happen often enough in our lives.

I'm glad for the wonderful years you had together, and I'm deeply sorry for you that she is now gone.

With tears,
Sharon and Taleah

Anonymous said...

Dear Jean:
Altho I have been aware that this time was coming it still hurts to read about your loss..I know that you have done well by Charley and she is going to watch over you from above..hugs..


Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry Jean.
As soon as I saw "The best dog ever" and Charley's picture my tears started falling.I knew what you were going to blog today. It doesn't matter where Charley came from whether it be from a breeder, a rescue or even from a market, you loved her just the same.

I gave the Royals extra hugs and we all are sending big hugs to you, Sadie and Allie


Nana & MP said...

Much tears. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jean. My heart aches and I wish I could give you a hug. Good, sweet Charley. We'll miss you so. Thinking of you, Jean.

LMP said...

Beautiful, remembrance, Jean and I truly love the poem. I know your home and life feel emptier now without her quiet, steady presence, but she's there in your heart and your mind. Wishing you, Sadie and Allie solace and comfort.

Wishing Charley restful ease in the summerlands, remembering always how loved she is.

Dom said...

My heart breaks for you :(

Jen said...

I feel absolutely heartbroken for you. I am so sorry to hear about Charlie. She lived a long, lovely life with you, but I know it never seems long enough.

Thinking of you...

Jen and the Mostly Black Dog Crewd

Del & Mark & Family said...

Our hearts break for you Aunty Jean. There are no words that can fill the gap in your heart. Thank doG for the wonderful memories you have to hold Charley so dear for ever more. We never had a chance to meet her in life but feel like we knew her through your stories. Now you have a Charley Angel watching over you.
Take care of yourself Aunty Jean.
Hugs & Tail wags
The Royals

Birdlady (Audrey) said...

Jean, I'm so very, very sorry to read about Charley. A huge hole in your heart again - so sorry that you've lost your sister and then now Charley. A big hug to you. Charley knew she was loved being with you. Thinking of you, Jean, with a heavy heart.

turtlegardens said...

What a beautiful tribute to your special friend. She will always be with you in your heart and in your memories.

Anonymous said...

RIP Carlie girl, watch over your momma.

Anonymous said...

Jean, my thoughts are with you and Sadie. I knew as soon as I saw the title that Charley had crossed over. This was a lovely tribute to your forever buddy, may he rest in peace at the bridge.



Janice Gillett said...

Run free in your Canine Heaven sweet Charlie, visit us when you can.

Beautiful tribute Jean and excellent poem for such a good good dog.

Kate said...

I am so,so sorry to hear of Charleys passing, this has been a heavy heart year for you, there is never enough time to be with the ones we love,because we always want a little bit more time. Charley was so very lucky to have you and to have only known 1 home her entire life, to be loved and cherished, she blossomed into the girl she became, no wonder she was the "Best Dog Ever"
Kate D.

Erika said...

Jean I am so sorry for your loss.

Jim said...

So sorry for your loss Jean. Your poem for Charley was beautiful.

Jim (Misty & Lola)

hornblower said...

I only now saw this. So sorry for your loss.