March 22nd 2007 8:15 pm
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The Sarah here -
Initially, I was going to keep my Dogster site for my current and future Beardies and leave my family pets for my mother to put on here if she liked.
On Wednesday, March 21, Penny Lane - my family's dog - went to her last vet appointment and was put down. She was about ten days away from her 14th birthday. She was old, in pain, and getting a bit senile. We suspect that she had some other, more severe health problems going on as well; she had recently lost a lot of weight and her intake of water had increased dramatically.
Penny meant a lot to me and, as I sat in front of my computer and cried for a dog I had not seen regularly for six years, I realized that I had every right to include Penny in my Dogster family.
Storm never had the chance to meet her; however, he did a lot of his signature Panting Laughter while I was talking to my mother on the phone a few hours after Penny had finally been allowed to rest. We suspect that she was laying next to Storm, telling him all of my embarassing childhood stories.
I'm sure that he'll use them against me in the future.
Below I've re-posted what I wrote in the "We'll Miss You" forum. It's sort of my memorial for the freckled girl that meant so much to me. I want to thank everyone who participated in my thread for bringing me comfort while I worked through the news I had been expecting for the last few years. Writing this allowed me to mourn and process her passing. It still hurts a bit to think of her, but I can now listen to the song that I named her after (the one I've placed on this page) and smile.
I've always been close with my family's pets. Rosie (a lab/beagle mix) was my littermate; she was adopted as a puppy about three months before I was born. My family moved around a lot, and I was (and am) very shy and introverted. Rosie was my friend through all of these moves. She eventually got old, stiff, and grumpy and was put down when we were both 11.
Later that year we moved to a new state and, soon after, our family decided to get a puppy. My parents found an ad in the paper for some mixed breed puppies (my mother swears that the mother was a Sheltie, but Penny looked so much like a border collie mix...); we decided to investigate.
It wasn't meant to happen this way but, when we got there, I ended up right down on the blanket with the mom and the 9 or 10 week old pups and picked out my girl (she had a white-tipped, "paintbrush" tail and a diamond on the back of her neck) and cuddled with her while my parents and little sister looked at the other pups playing. We left with my little paintbrush tail and I ended up naming her, too: Penny Lane, because I am a big Beatles fan and felt that the best way to name anything was after a song. After all, I was named after one.
We got home that night, snapped some pictures of Penny exploring her new digs, and showed her her new toys. I picked her up to cuddle her again and she promptly fell asleep with her little freckled nose nestled in the crook of my left elbow. She drooled down my arm in her sleep. Somewhere, my mother still has that picture.
I remember going downstairs quite a bit in the middle of the night in response to her yelps. I'd open the door of her crate and make sure the alarm clock (I volunteered mine) was still ticking under her blankets. I'd hold her and let her sleep in my arms.
She grew to be fast and spirited! Within her first year I decided that it was high time to train her; no one else in the family seemed to want to. Penny was a quick learner and would do anything for a biscuit and a pat on the head. I was her Alpha - but she's the reason I discovered at age 11 that I had an intuitive ability to train dogs using positive reinforcement. She new all of her basics (except Stay) in fairly short order. That talent has had a profound effect on my life - and it was all thanks to Penny.
Penny had some health problems. She had a thyroid condition that called for daily medication. She also had some unspecified autoimmune disorder and a few seasonal allergy problems. I have some health problems, too; as we both got a bit older, we'd take our medication together in the mornings.
She had the softest ears. They were like silk, and only I knew how to pet them correctly. I'd start by putting my middle finger where her muzzle met her skull and follow the white stripe upwards, then bring the finger around the back of her ear while my thumb followed her brow. My thumb and fingers would meet just below the ear, capturing it in my hand, and I'd slowly and gently pull it away from her head; then I'd repeat this on the other side. Penny liked petting and scritching but, when I'd pet her ears juuust so, she'd close her eyes ever so slightly. That's how I knew that she really enjoyed it.
Going off to college and leaving her behind was hard for me. I learned in the dorms that I'm simply a far better person with a pet around - and especially a dog. I didn't get home to visit much but, when I did, Penny was always so excited to see me! On one of my last visits home I finally taught her Stay, which was the only thing I couldn't get down well as a kid. My timing was a bit off back then...
The last time I saw Penny was just before I moved to SC to start grad school nearly two years ago. Penny had gotten used to seeing me pack things to go up to school, but I knew that she realized that this was something different. My room was entirely empty now, and I had a lot more boxes than usual. On my last day home I was busily packing, sticking some things in the box I was kneeling in front of in the living room. Penny, now 12, had kind of been circling me slowly for the last few days (which was difficult for her, because her arthritis was really starting to get bad). At this moment, she sort of slowly came up behind where I was kneeling and sauntered up on my right hand side. When I greeted her (with my typical response: a low, affectionate "Pennieeeeeeee!") she looked me square in the eyes and suddenly leaned all of her weight against against me - an odd behavior for her - in the way that bigger dogs do for Very Special People. I just stopped what I was doing and hugged her and pet her ears like that for about 10 minutes, when she straightened herself and went to her nearby pillow for a nap. I'll never forget that gesture.
The last thing I did with her was send her through all of her behaviors that I had taught her, ending with her latest (Stay). She got a nice, new Greenie as a reward. I pet her ears a bit more, got in my car, and left.
Penny would've been 14 on April 1. She is old and in a lot of pain; her time has come, and she will finally get to rest tomorrow afternoon. My mother and sister do not want to sit in the room with her at the vet's office; I wish that I was out there (in IA) so that I could let her fall asleep with her nose buried in my arm one more time.
I'm sitting here crying a bit now. I'm not sobbing, I'm not inconsolable. It's probably kind of stupid to be upset about a dog that I haven't lived with regularly for about 6 years - but she was My Penny, and she means a heck of a lot to me. Like the song says, Penny Lane was always in my ears and in my eyes - and especially while growing up beneath the blue, suburban skies.