People are creatures of habit. People with pets are creatures of that pet's habits. I could set my watch by Bou's time table of life. Come in from work with Hubby, he'd greet me like I'd been gone for a month. But if I sat down after that, he'd come lift my hand with his head until I got up and fed him. The evening joke was my asking, "You need to go out?" Bou's reply would be to lay down on his bed. Yet as soon as I sat on the couch and got comfortable, he'd approach with that Elvis grin of his to let me know he wanted to go out. When he was done, he'd literally body slam the front door so I'd let him in.
Hubby used to say Bou trained me.
One part of the nightly ritual was what happened when Bou went out. He'd stand on the top step, survey his kingdom, then go down the steps. We live in the country and are surrounded by fields. Fields often filled with deer. Yet Bou was never interested in chasing them. Every evening he'd go out and 5 minutes later I'd hear a bark. Not one of warning. Or danger. Or annoyance. And every time I went out to see what was going on, there she was.
A Doe, standing in the field, just looking at Bou. And Bou, looking at her. Wagging his tail.
After a while, it appeared they were friends. While other deer would scatter at the sound of Bou's voice, she would always stand still, look at him for a moment, then saunter off. Never running. Just strolling. When she had fawns, she didn't rush them on at the sound of his baritone. No, she and the kids stood there until Bou wagged his tail, then they moved on. This wasn't a one time thing...she's come back for a couple of years now. There's a hedgerow* at the end of the field where she has her fawns each year, where they'll be safely hidden. More than once I'd witnessed Bou lie in the front yard, waiting to see her before wandering off to do his business.
It's been almost a week since Bou crossed the rainbow bridge. Hubby was mowing the lawn yesterday (our 36th anniversary) and when he came inside, he was quiet. I thought it was because of how many times he had to pass where we laid Bou to rest out back, which borders a field. (Remember, we have 5 acres in the country). After showering, Hubby said, "Come with me. I need to show you something."
We hopped on the golf cart and headed toward "that spot". I thought maybe he'd marked it as a way of dealing with the loss...after all Bou did go to work with him every day. As we approached he said, "Bou's had a visitor".
My heart dropped. All I could think of was coyotes had come and disturbed the grave. My eyes searched for signs of digging, but there were none. Then my eyes followed where Hubby was pointing. In a dainty line around Bou's final resting place were a set of deer tracks. The size of a doe's. The trail walked all the way around the spot and never over it.
"There are no other tracks," Hubby offered, pointing out the patches of dirt in the surrounding area. Just here, then back into the field."
It seems we're not the only ones who miss the ol' boy.
*Hedgerows, for you city
slickers, are those blocks of trees or brush you see down the middle of a
field which serve as a wind break to protect crops. The one above is a small block of trees at the end of the field.
I understand your disappointment when you arrived with your two teens at my husband's business, only to discover it was closed. Through the window, I saw your expression of shock turn to anger. Yes, the Shop was suppose to be open by that hour. Anyone else might've huffed a little or called to leave a message. You did not.
My empathy ended the moment you sent your son to our front door.
If it was up to me, no one would've come to the door. But Hubby wanted me to be fair, to explain the closure was temporary and he'd be back to normal hours tomorrow, even if he didn't feel normal. Plus having just gotten out of the shower, he wasn't fully dressed and I was.
I opened the door to find a young man with an earnest and hopeful expression. I softly asked if I could help him. His answer was, "I saw the sign on the door and all. But can't you just open up for an hour?"
I replied in a calm, slow manner, because honestly, I didn't have much strength left in me after the morning we'd experienced. I politely replied, "No, I'm sorry. He's sick. There's nothing I can do for you."
Junior stared at me, as if I hadn't heard his demand in the form of a question. Then he turned to look at a woman who I assume was his mother. Great, I thought. Mom will talk him through it. Great teaching moment on how we can't always have what we want.
Mom glared up at me and screeched, "We drove three hours to get here!"
I hadn't slept well in two nights. I was emotionally exhausted. Hubby had thrown his back out the day before and so he had my problems plus one. Again, in a voice soft and weary I repeated, "I'm sorry. He's sick. There's nothing that I can do for you."
Before I could offer the reason for Hubby's illness, she screamed at me sarcastically, "Yeah, I bet you're sorry!" As she stormed off, she began punching a number into the phone in her hand.
Junior looked from her to me. I shook my head sadly and simply closed the door.
Hubby heard it all. He was shocked, but told me to let it go.
Fifteen minutes later the Shop phone rang and Hubby answered it. While the vehicle was gone, he figured it might be the family trying to reason with him, since I was useless. It was Dad. In an incredulous voice, he shared that his wife and children had come to make a purchase, but he'd been told the Shop was closed. Tears in his eyes, Hubby calmly explained that while he knew the man's family was upset at their "wasted" trip, we'd just had to put down our wonderful Lab of 12.5 years and he was simply too distraught and distracted to be in the Shop. (The one where the dog went to work with him, every day). Hubby added, "We'd literally just come in from burying that dog out back when they arrived."
Dad replied with a sarcastic sneer, "You're closed because your dog died?"
Ah, the Compassionate Family.
Hubby tried to apologize again, saying he hoped the family would come back another day so he could set the daughter up properly. He got a grunt in reply. I'm sure "Dad" thought he could talk some sense into Hubby.
Today Hubby asked me to help send an e-mail reply....to the woman who'd been so angry at our door. I had to read it twice, then take a deep breath. Not only did she proclaim her disappointment after traveling 2 hours (hmm, told me 3) she was furious that no one had thought to change the message on the answering machine. Because she had called and the hours were listed. The sign on the door didn't matter to her...we should've changed the message on the machine. The kicker was, "And that lady at the door was so rude to us!" (Um, that would be me. The one who'd cried so hard she could barely speak above a whisper).
She'd sent the e-mail five minutes after leaving our driveway. I have a feeling she thought we'd see it and change our minds.
Hubby took the high road. He apologized, adding that we'd lost our beloved dog of 12.5 years and had been burying him not 5 minutes before they arrived. That had taken a toll. He's a better person than me. I know "Dad" probably shared his call with Mom, and they both rolled their eyes. Hubby added he hoped they would return so he could help the girl.
That's why I love him. In the face of ignorance, he can let it roll off him. Me? My reply would've been different.
"Dear Angry Lady,
I'm sorry, but we just received your e-mail, 24 hours later. Unlike most Americans, we do not have a cell phone in our hand 24/7. When you arrived at the Shop, we had just laid to rest the best buddy man could have. It appears you were fortunate enough to have children. We were not. Therefore that DOG was a member of our family. He went everywhere with us. His manners were impeccable and he charmed everyone he came in contact with. The fact that he became ill so suddenly and the only "cure" was to let him go, was heartbreaking.
We literally had just come into the house after burying our boy out back, next to his Dad, Smokey. Now that's two former "co-workers" my husband has lost and whom he must pass every morning on his way in to work. My husband, by the way, threw out his back the day before. So he had pain piled on top of pain. And as we made our way to the house, he asked me to go turn the Shop sign to "Closed", so no one would wait for him. I decided to add the sign taped to the front door, in case the one in the window was missed. It took everything in me to write it out and honestly, a three year old could've done a better job with printing. Changing the answering machine message never even entered my mind.
So when you sent your child to my front door, I started not to answer. Hubby was just out of the shower and since I can't do his job, I didn't want to have to explain that and disappoint someone. But Hubby wants his customers to be happy, so he asked me to answer the door. For the record, I did that for him. Not for you. Had I known what was coming, I would've walked away and pretended I couldn't hear him...because I was crying.
But I wiped my tears and tried. Granted, I was not enthusiastic. But I was not rude. Rude would've been to offer a verbal reply when you screeched at me...and oh boy, did I ever want to. What kind of Mother offers up that kind of example when their child doesn't get his way? I feel sorry for you. Which is why I did what my loving husband asked and opened the door to you. To explain. Even when you didn't want to listen because it wasn't what you wanted to hear. I feel sorry for you twice. It's obvious that "Dad" the caller has no compassion either. Sneering at someone who opens up about their loss while apologizing for inconvenience caused to you is not a man. I hope your children will find some example of compassion in their young lives before they become demanding.
In closing, kindly remember. Life is filled with surprises. Some good, some bad. We will be disappointed some days and victorious on others. I hope you find some fulfillment in your choices. I have.
I have the love of a good husband. I had the love of a good dog. That's what counts in life.
The rude woman at the door whose heart was breaking but who tried to be kind anyhow."
This morning we had to put our buddy Boudreaux to sleep. Which accounts for the headline.
If you're not a dog or pet person, kindly walk away in silence. I won't be responsible for what I say to the first person who offers, "Hey, it was just a dog."
Nope, he was my buddy and Hubby's work partner. And today we are hurting.
Bou was almost 12 and a half years old...which is old for a Lab as big as he was. But he'd started having "spells" recently, where he would stumble, then fall over. It would take an hour to recover, but then he'd be fine for a couple of weeks. This morning was different. And we knew when we left the house for the Vet how the story would probably end. Worst part...it was a "sub" Vet, as ours was on vacation in Florida. I bet his staff called him to share the news. He felt bad when we called last night and he couldn't help us out.
We did the right thing. I hate suffering. But the tears are hard. And they'll be with us for a little while. We had Bou and his Dad Smokey for a long time....between the two of them, there's been a chocolate lab grinning at us and wanting to go on rides for 17 years.
So if I'm quiet for a while, it's okay. Everyone adjusts their own way. On their own time. Thanks for just being there and listening.