Had kind of a wistful day yesterday. My friend D's large brown dog has been ailing for about a month or so, and she found out last week that she probably had cancer. Stella has had hip displaysia her whole life, with some surgical intervention at 8 months. The last few weeks she's had increasing difficulty walking, getting up and down stairs, and standing long enough to eat, coupled with lots of fidgety motion and difficulty finding a comfortable way to lie or sit. Yesterday, the weather was absolutely beautiful - nearly cloudless with a gentle balmy breeze. Stella struggled out into the yard with D's help, and she found a nice warm spot in the fresh grass to lie down. D called the vet, and stayed with Stella for two hours, relaxing, stroking her in the warm sun, and saying goodbye. Boo and I came over, and Stella's human brother and sister and D enjoyed the beautiful spring with Stella, seated in the warm grass until the vet and her assistant arrived. They gently muzzled Stella, shaved a small patch on her leg, and inserted the needle. They took off the muzzle, and she gently relaxed into her final breathless sleep.
Afterward, we went to Minnehaha Falls Park, and watched the rushing foss, the blossoming trees, and the young prom-goers walking in their finery. We read the engraved excerpt from Longfellow's poem, with its passages of memory and stories passed on from one to another. We thought now and then about a big brown dog both gentle and fearsome, whose main talent lay in being large and brown and loving D fiercely, and softly said goodbye.