Posted by: morrowsl | October 15, 2018

That Little Heartbeat At Your Feet

Even when you live a life that seems to sit somewhere between fast and faster, there are moments that freeze in time. Or, maybe because you live at breakneck speed, time tends to stop so you’ll at least remember something later on.

I remember our son brought his girlfriend’s mom’s new puppy to my workplace. He was literally giddy. From a small boy, he’d wanted a Husky. And this little girl fit every tick mark on his checklist. Heterochromia Iridis, or better said as one crystal blue eye and one dark brown eye. A white face set in dark grey and black with the outline of a Fleur-de-lis on her forehead. A cheerful disposition. A playful streak. And a fat puppy belly.


She was a rescue dog in that they had recently lost a beloved Aussie and this little Husky was meant to be what rescued them from the heartbreak. They weren’t prepared for her high octane personality, however, and she shortly became a sibling to our future daughter-in-law’s Boxer Mix, Ladybug.

The new puppy was named Holly. She learned to jump on the bed and ride in the car. She tormented Ladybug. And cuddled up under her to sleep. And she figured out pretty fast that she was loved.

I remember the first time I walked her. Or rather, the first time she ran me. Our son’s townhouse had a short, but very steep driveway. She literally pulled me down it. How I kept my feet is a mystery to me, given my tendency to trip and stumble even on flat surfaces. I remember thinking at the time that sixteen of her would not only pull a sled from Anchorage to Nome without trouble, but might just refuse to stop till they’d reached the Chukchi Peninsula!

Eventually, the kids rented out the townhouse and moved in with us while they shopped for a house. Holly and Ladybug joined Dillon and Sally. Everywhere you stepped there was a dog. The foursome got along, for the most part. Although poor Dillon was well outnumbered by the three domineering females.

Time froze again when the kids married, bought a house, and started their family. Holly became a permanent member of our tribe. Sally passed away and Ladybug found a new home with an older couple. We lost two dogs and gained some floorspace.

Dillon and Holly got along very well and became lifelong buddies. He loved to lay under the glass table in the front room where he could watch the street. She loved to sit on the top of the car parked in the back driveway where she could see even more than he could. She oftentimes attempted to steal his spot under the table, but he never let her stay there long. They shared the ottoman and kept the backyard pockmarked with holes. They loved to go for grooming days and a shared kennel at our veterinarian’s hospital.

They both secretly hated Wilson, the cat.


Eventually, Dillon left us as well and suddenly Holly was the only family dog. Not that she minded that one bit! She was a diva to her very soul and relished having all the attention and getting all the treats.
She and Mike became best friends. She disapproved of his travel and would lay at the front window, under Dillon’s glass table, watching for him on Friday evenings. When he was home they were almost inseparable. She would still acknowledge the kids when they came to visit and she tolerated our grandkids and other family. Never one to shy away from attention, she gave kisses for pets and treats.
But Mike was her favorite. She loved to lay on the ottoman and watch tv with her “boy”.

Age brought its limitations as well. She developed incontinence, like so many old ladies do, and with that a year-long urinary tract infection. Beating the infection meant taking medication for the rest of her life to keep the incontinence in check. We changed her diet and added supplements. She shed a few pounds but, all in all, she was healthy.

Retirement brought another series of frozen moments. We bought a house with some acreage and worried how to contain a city dog with a nose to sprint and just enough sass to ignore commands. We muddled over fencing and kennel space. In the end, we opted to harness her and use the leash when she was outside.

It worked so much better than we’d ever anticipated.

Holly’s days in our new home centered around eating, sleeping, and going out to fetch the mail. Since we couldn’t trust her, or the predatory animals that hunt in our woods, she wasn’t allowed outside alone. She spent time in the shop with her boy, but most days found her stretched out on the big rug, snoring. At noon, the two of them would make the walk down to the road to check the mailbox and allow her some toilet time. Then back to the house to eat and grab a nap. She had a dog’s life.


We just passed the two-year anniversary of our move. In that short space of time, Holly’s health had declined rapidly. She developed arthritis and began to slow down considerably. We sought the same treatment for this newest malady as we had for her incontinence. We added two new meds and a new supplement to her daily round as well as drops to ease the stress of her arthritis pain. She tolerated being loaded in the van for the 90-minute ride to see her acupuncturist, then another 90-minute ride home. That worked for a couple of months, but it was easy to see that the ride was oftentimes countering the benefit of the treatments.


Eventually, we knew we were coming to the end of the journey and that she would tell us when she was done.

She let us know early last week. On Friday, we gave her sedatives to eliminate the stress and pain of being loaded into the van. And the three of us took one last ride to town.

She was closing in on her thirteenth birthday. That’s quite an accomplishment for a big dog. She kept her willful spirit to the very end, refusing to be budged to go outside if she was comfy. She spent her last two years parked as close as she could get to her boy and still be comfortable. She set the schedule. And the pace. She owned us. As it should be.


Godspeed, beautiful girl. Good dog!


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