Well, I’m back. Did you miss me? It’s been a while since I posted. We had a difficult July, and now heading into August, things have settled down…but they are different.
Those of you who have been reading Home Garden Joy for a long time know that our pets here on the farm are more than pets. They are family. I have always had a deep kinship with animals both wild and domesticated. Any cats, dogs, horses, goldfish, birds or assorted wildlife who crosses my path becomes part of the family even if they are here temporarily.
Shadow, our German shepherd (or shepherd mix, depending on who you ask) really was a larger than life personality. Adopted from the Prince Edward animal shelter in 2008, the scrawny, tick infested dog matured into a beautiful and faithful friend.
She loved cats and found them abandoned in the local woods. Over her lifetime, she found a total of seven cats; four of those cats still live here.
She hiked with us on the Appalachian Trail, twice up and down Cold Mountain, through bogs in West Virginia, through abandoned train tunnels in Virginia and over rope bridges in North Carolina. She crossed the top of a dam in the mountains of Virginia and hiked by my side up and down enormous metal stairs to see waterfalls. She swam in creeks along the trails, chased away bears not once but twice while I was hiking, and enjoyed barking at deer.
This is a dog who got along with every child who crossed her path. She let babies visiting our house use her fur to pull themselves up and take toddling steps. She licked their faces and left their food alone. When guests came to the house, she settled down for a nap after a cursory inspection sniff. She greeted my days with a smile and wagging tail and we said good night with her snuggled into her dog bed by the side of my bed. I tripped over her when I cooked and had to mop around her in the kitchen because she wouldn’t leave “her” corner. She was by my side, a constant companion, for nine years.
We noticed back in June that her appetite was uneven, which was rare for our big girl who gulped down her food as if it would evaporate on the air. Then, she began slowing on her walks. She drank twice as much water as she usually did and didn’t want to go on long walks on the trail. I chalked it up to aging and heat and all sorts of things until she refused bacon and cheese. Now, as everyone knows, a dog who refuses both bacon and cheese is a sick dog. Off to the vet we went.
We thought it would be something minor…a tooth infection (she really needed to get her teeth cleaned), a pulled muscle, something. Instead, we learned on July 24th that she had cancer. She had a large mass on her spleen which had already metastasized to her heart. Our big, beautiful, sweet girl had just weeks, maybe days to live.
We took her home. We spoiled her. Our last trail walk was on July 25th. She stopped going for walks. We fed her whatever she liked. By the end of the week, the only thing she would eat was cream cheese and ice cream. And then on August first, she stopped eating even that. Nothing would tempt her.
Not even bacon.
I made the decision to euthanize her on August 2nd. I can still feel her fur under my hand as I stroked her while she took her last breaths. It was time, for her. For me, it will never be time to say good bye to an animal I love.
This, then, is why I wasn’t writing as much about my beloved garden, my plants, my passion throughout the summer. I know a lot of you tune in here to learn about plants and that’s great. Hey, that’s why I’m here! To educate, inspire, motivate, and make you laugh about the green world!
But one thing that I’ve missed here on Home Garden Joy is just being myself. Writing about what’s going on at Seven Oaks, our farm, and with our furry family.
Starting in August, I’m moving several of my blogs BACK onto the Home Garden Joy platform. You won’t notice anything different except a sprinkling of new articles about Home and Joy – animals, nature, my personal pursuits. I’ll still keep the focus here on gardening.
Things have settled down again but the house feels like it is missing something. It’s missing a big pile of fur, and the patter of huge German shepherd feet leaving muddy paw prints on the floor. Someday, we’ll get a new dog. In the meantime, though, I have to get used to the empty space in the kitchen, the empty spot in the office where Shadow once dwelled.
And in the garden…the weeds await.