Monday, July 11, 2011
I had started fixing breakfast. We woke up happy, all of us did. Happy that we didn’t have anything to do on this particular day except try and get some yard work done and other miscellaneous jobs around the house. Very rarely did we have days like this so when they became available we relished in them.
As I raced up to the pens at full speed I expected to see Princess, our shepherd, laying there with blood on her and maybe whimpering. ‘Just hurt’, right? What I saw was way beyond what I expected. I ran into her pen and scooped her up in my arms. I immediately knew that she had already left us. My heart felt like it was breaking in two.
Princess and Goldie, our Golden Retriever, were so close that Princess would constantly climb through the cattle panels that separated them to be closer to Goldie. The first night we separated them, I about changed her name to Houdini. We came out the next morning and Princess was in Goldie’s pen. We looked around and couldn’t find out how she had gotten in. We soon realized that she was climbing up and through the openings in the cattle panel. She was still small enough where she could fit through comfortably. This particular night she hadn’t been so lucky.
As I sat down holding Princess in my arms, I felt so helpless and guilty. I felt mad and so sad for my two boys who had been the ones to find her stuck in the fence. Oh, what must have gone through their minds? I wish I could take that back and hit the "rewind" button. Why didn’t I go out first that morning?? I’d done it dozens of times. I enjoyed taking care of our many animals and even though it was a good responsibility for our boys, I also enjoyed doing it, too. Why hadn’t it been ME that found Princess; sparing the boys of this terrible turmoil.
Why hadn’t we made the pens more secure? We should have done something the first time we realized she was crawling through. I blamed myself. Greg blamed himself. I just sat cradling her in my arms and rocking; crying, crying, sobbing. I couldn’t make the tears stop. I gave the pup to my oldest son. It was his dog and he wanted to hold her. I had to leave and walk away. I felt so bad and so mad at myself that I wasn’t there to help her.
What must have gone through Princess’s head when she realized she was stuck? There was evidence that our other dog, Goldie, had tried to help her. How they must have struggled together trying to get Princess free. How they must have communicated with each other in their own language, Goldie trying to reassure Princess that she would try and do whatever she could to get her out and Princess pleading with Goldie to help her. How there last moments together must have been as Princess slowly slipped away; Goldie realizing that she had done all she could do for her.
Do dogs cry? Are they sad? Do they understand? I think they do; somehow, someway, in their own way. I know God was with them trying to ease the pain and discomfort. And I think Goldie knows something happened. As we buried Princess, Goldie would come up and sniff her. Goldie seemed more quiet than usual, and maybe a little lost.
My heart is still breaking. I know my son is sad but he will be fine. And I will be fine. But I know that I will never go another time without fixing a problem if there is any doubt in my mind that something could go wrong; whether it's with my kids or a pet. Sometimes we don’t get a second chance. Sometimes we have to try and live with the guilt and the pain. That’s the hardest part; trying to forgive yourself for letting someone else down. I’m working on that and I know it will take a while.
But I think Princess would have forgiven us. She was a very special pup. And, like all dogs, she was man’s best friend. She didn’t care what happened; she was always there to greet you with a lick and a wag of her tail. And I know we will see her again at the Rainbow Bridge. Until then I think her and Brandy are probably becoming very good friends.