Saturday, September 2, 2017

Thinking About Emma

Last May, my trip to the mainland to bring Maggie home was a bittersweet one. Sweet because I was adopting Maggie, but sad because I was seeing Emma (the yellow lab who stayed with my ex when we split more than ten years ago) for very likely the last time. Emma and her dad were moving 800 km further away, or about 900 km from where I live.

Emma, May 2017

When Emma's dad and I split up, Charley (the border collie cross) came with me and Emma stayed with him. We came to an agreement, with the help of our lawyers, regarding my visitation rights. The first couple of years were tough -  for me, for her dad, and quite probably for Emma. But over time it became clear to me that the bond between Emma and her dad was deep, and while she still greeted me enthusiastically on each and every visit, I had no doubt she had become her dad's heartdog, and he was her heartperson. I continued to see Emma - monthly when I lived on the mainland, and several times a year after I moved to the island - but no longer needed that reassurance that she was loved and well taken care of. She was - and is - the apple of her dad's eye.


Last fall, her dad talked with me of his desire to semi-retire and move to the place he and Emma have spent their last several summers, in eastern BC.  Emma loves it there, and each summer her dad sent me photos of  Emma swimming in the river, lazing around with many good friends including her best doggy friend Abby, soaking up the sun and the attention.

WHEEEE!  I'm a happy stick-fetching water dog! 
(Photo by Emma's dad, a couple of summers ago)

Her dad's intention had been to stay on the coast until after Emma passed, giving me continued access to her.  But for personal and familial reasons, he didn't want to delay the move any longer.  And I fully and unhesitatingly supported that decision.  I know only too well that our future and that of our loved ones is never guaranteed.  Sometimes you just have to grab life and run with it.

Or grab a stick and throw it!

And so in May, with his house about to go on the market and his annual summertime migration fast approaching, I went for one last visit.

Over the course of the last year or two, Emma's health and vitality had been declining. She is nearly 13 now,  old for a dog as large as she. At the May visit, the change in her was remarkable since the previous one a few months before - for the first time she did not bounce up to greet me, for the first time she did not wish to run through her paces in exchange for pieces of her kibble, for the first time she did not pester me for attention but simply lay quietly on the grass as her dad and I talked.

I can still hear everything you say, y'know!
One ear up! 

Her happy lab get-up-and-go often got up and went, her dad reported, and even that insatiable lab appetite had dissipated to the extent that sometimes she didn't want to eat at all. She still has her moments of happy lab silliness, of course, but we both agree that she is in God's Waiting Room.

I'm not tired - I'm just resting my eyeballs.  

And so it is only right that both she and her dad should be in the place they love most, sharing some summer and fall splashes in the river, being among friends and family doing all the memorable things that friends and family do.

Emma is living the good life, for whatever length of time she has left.  But between my health, Maggie's anxiety issues,  Emma's health, and the geographic distance, the chances are very slim that I will see her again.  At least, not on this side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Until then, she is in good hands. Thank you, Emma's dad, for loving her as you do.