Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Place Girl

Arkansas Patti's lovely post yesterday made me think about my little girl, Katie. Katie was a gift from my daughters for my 40th birthday. I remember the first time I saw her,her little head came popping out from inside my daughter's shirt and around her neck was a card that read, "Happy 40th Birthday...since you don't have a life we bought you one." And indeed they did!

Katie came to be when the girls had been out shopping and saw a woman in a parking lot selling puppies. I had always wanted a Yorkie and as soon as the woman said the puppies were 1/2 Yorkie and 1/2 Unknown........the girls scooped up the only female in the litter and the deal was done.

Katie was a feisty little pup from the start. Although she was tiny and fit in the palm of your hand she could scale a fence or any other make shift wall with the gracefulness of a trapeze artist. There was no containing this fluff ball with razor sharp teeth. I never did figure out how she managed to use the window ledge for a teething ring as well as the last 4 rows on the mini blinds. Every day I would come home to find that she had somehow escaped whatever enclosure I had rigged up for the day. There she would be, sitting in the middle of the living room looking up at me with the most innocent face I'd ever seen. I wasn't fooled though.......I just followed the trail of destruction. Fortunately, we weathered her puppy stage and she grew into a well behaved young lady.

Katie was so great at heeling that we seldom had need for a leash except on trips to the vet. The rest of the time she would walk close to my left side checking out the scenery but never leaving my side. She went everywhere with me and sometimes I brought her to my office. She would just hop out of the car and walk straight in first going to the offices of friends she wanted to say hello to and then back to my office where she would quietly wait until I finished whatever task I needed to complete.

Katie was a true companion. She seemed to know the exact time I would be pulling into the driveway for her head was always at the window watching for my return. She greeted me with an enthusiastic hello but after an affectionate pat on the head she was content. She wasn't a lap dog or even liked to cuddle, she preferred to sit quietly beside me. She slept at the end of my bed and was so quiet you'd forget she was there.

My daughter entered this picture of her in a pet photo contest and won first prize. We hung the blue ribbon on Katie's picture and from that day forward she was known as the "First Place Girl".

For seventeen years my First Place Girl was my loyal, loving companion but time took it's toll on her. Her arthritis became so bad that I had to pick her up to put her on the bed and lift her down each morning. She would be obviously embarrassed when she could no longer control her bladder and I'd find her sitting alone in an empty bedroom when I came home from work. Finally, the arthritis got so bad that her back would go out all the time leaving her in so much pain that she couldn't find a comfortable position just to lay down. It was pitiful to watch her and impossible to help her. She began having stomach issues resulting in blood loss and she began to deteriorate quickly. The vet had already begun preparing me to make a decision to let her go and I realized by the sad look in her eyes that she was ready.

For seventeen years she had faithfully been my companion and friend and I wanted to repay her with the loyalty she deserved. I held her in my arms on her last day and told her what a wonderful girl she had been. I stroked her and talked softly to her thanking her for our time together. She peacefully died in my arms and I buried her in the back yard between two Crepe Myrtles. The girls purchased a little marker that is a little dog with angel wings. The marker says, "My Beloved Pet, Katie" and she truly was.

When you have had a pet that in your eyes was like no other it is hard to think about loving another animal. It has been 7 years since Katie died but I haven't been able to think about getting another dog. There are times I am tempted but something stops me. I have "grand dogs" now and they come to visit and that seems to be enough. But...I'll never forget my "First Place Girl" or the love she gave to me.

1 comment:

Arkansas Patti said...

Aww, what a wonderful story, actually a love story. She was just precious. I am so glad you survived the terror stage of puppy hood for so many people don't. She certainly rewarded you for your patience.
You had to have done everything right for that is a very long life for a dog.
Letting them go is the hardest thing. You did as I have done,for when you can no longer keep them out of pain, mercy is required.
Think when you retire, you might consider another. Not another Katie for no dog could live up to her, but perhaps a very different breed. Lots of dogs need love but they all have a ton to give.
Thanks for the shout out.