"Oh yes," we said, "bring your foster. We don't mind another dog around for dinner."
It was just a dinner date with friends. A meal and some wine. Lots of laughter and conversation, watching our dogs, Emily and Chester, play with the foster girl, Olive, and our friend's Boston Terrier, Bill. Summertime in Colorado, with fine weather, a green backyard, and a gentle setting sun blanketing all in its rosy glow.
Olive moved in that day. She jumped up on Tom's lap and settled in for a snooze, not long after dinner. She was accepted by the big dogs, perhaps a bit reluctantly at first, but with real sincerity as the night went on. This, she had decided, was home. And so it became home for her. She joined our two other rescues and made a trio of it.
Oh the joy of little Olive.
This week we made our peace with this little girl. We allowed her to go to the Rainbow Bridge, and be with Chester. Oh, she loved Chester so much!
But, Emily was her dear. Emily was the mother she never had, perhaps. Or, the little one she never saw grow up. Olive was a puppy mill mama and as such, she suffered unspeakable neglect and torture...yes, it was torture, to force her to produce litter after litter, and then remove the little ones much too soon, every time! She came to us with an eye missing - from neglect. She came to us with her teeth so rotted, the vet removed 17 of them at one dental. She came to us a skinny girl of 5 years, looking every bit older than that!
BUT... she brought laughter, and silliness, and a short, sharp staccato bark only heard when following the big dogs around the backyard. If they barked, she barked. She loved her treats. We fattened her right up, and the lost eye, it never slowed her down!
Little Olive shadowed Emily constantly. Emily, to her credit, merely tolerated this for the first year, perhaps. Then, gradually, she accepted this little creature who wanted nothing more than to be with her, next to her, all about her. When our Chester left us, Emily grieved every bit as seriously as we did. A little of her joy was gone. She turned then to the little creature that had been dancing about her for so long, and accepted Olive wholeheartedly into her space and her heart. They became as one. It was a joy to behold.
Perhaps Chester nudged Emily along. We all felt his presence long after he was gone. Perhaps Emily, who craves a pack, a team, a group, was more willing to now enfold the little girl she had previously been annoyed with on a daily basis, into her world. The occasional snapping stopped. The look of "of go away" stopped. Instead, she curled up with Olive in the bed by the fireplace. Then was worried and concerned some nights when we were watching TV on the 'family' bed and - because nerve damage in Olive's back made it so difficult for her to lie down - I had to physically put her on the bed at night; grab her and gently (although it didn't seem gentle to Emily, I guess) turn her on her side to lie her down. While Emily watched carefully, as if to say, "Don't you hurt her!" As if!
Our world for the past year has been one of watching our Olive decline. As she became more blind, she began to bump into things, especially kitty, who was not gentle in her response. The hiss told Olive to back off, and she did. She became deaf. Only loud noises and clapping would get her attention. She could not eat anything crunchy, only soft foods. We cooked chicken for her, as treats. Tiny bits of chicken, which she loved. Her food was watered down to be easier to eat.
One never really knows if it's "time", does one? We speculate. We weigh all the options and odds and experiences. We waffle. And, at some point, when there is no other answer, we elect to do the most kind thing we can - we let them go.
Our house is so quiet now. No pitter patter of little feet wandering here and there. I don't feel her pausing by my chair, silently asking to be picked up for a bit. I know Emily is confused. She has taken to sleeping in Olive's bed... and coming up on our bed at night, with a long, hard look into my face, as if to say, "When is Olive coming home?"
We will all endure. And pictures of Olive will soothe us. The Rainbow Bridge grew a little this week, with Olive and so many other beloved pets. It must be a marvelous place, don't you think?