Sunday, March 04, 2007

Our Dog Babe

Our dog Babe died on Saturday evening, February 17. She would have been fifteen years old on March 1, well over 100 in human years. She did not die quietly in bed, but having escaped the house while I was putting out the recycling, that dog of independent mind decided to go roaming. She was dead before we noticed that she was missing.
I would like to think that she met her her end chasing a car, a favourite pastime of all her breed, but that is not the case. She trotted along, blending into the snowy shadows of the evening. Neither she, nor the kindly folk who hit her, had a chance. It is some comfort to know that she died instantly and in some ways, on her own terms.
Highly intelligent, Babe had a stubborn streak. She would have felt it very undignified to have degenerated into a feeble, housebound, old age.Babe was incorrigibly bossy, knew what was good for river swimmers and skate board riders. Her sometimes irritating sharp barking and herding instinct were an inheritance from her forebears in the Shetland Islands. As she grew older, she kept her beauty, the Blue Merle markings of her pedigree and her lovely, wise face.

Our lives are forever changed. Rob misses his daily walks and hardly knows how to start his mornings. For several days after she died, I continued to hear Babe barking, not protractedly, just an occasional 'woof.' It was both disconcerting and comforting.

This past week Rob was away overnight for work, as he frequently is, and I was alone in the house. I realized just how companionable Babe was, particularly when a horrific storm of freezing rain and high winds interrupted sleep at 3:00 a.m.. Formerly, just having her at my door would have been reassuring. Now I found I could not sleep at all and finally got up and spent the rest of the night sweeping up and folding laundry. The house is empty.

Babe is linked to all of the memories of our lives over the last fifteen years. There was the time we had a fire in our Edwardian house in Orillia and we thought that Babe had succumbed. What a relief when the firefighters found her. Covered in soot, she came bolting out of the family room straight out the front door and raced around the house at breakneck speed, barking her lungs clear. Then there was the time, a couple of years later, when she wore a pink ribbon for my daughter Sarah's wedding day in October, 1999. Not two years later, she was part of the nursing team during my father's last illness. She sat patiently beside his chair, comforting him, licking gently the thin yet familiar hand that had petted her for years.

Rachael drew a picture of Babe and God looking down on us from heaven. God was a bright yellow cloud and sun and a rainbow. I added a sketch of a young Great Grandpa Ballantine playing in the eternal fields with Babe. Rachael called her picture 'Babe's Banner', and it has hung for a week in the breezeway where Babe rested in warmer weather.

We will not own another 'pet.' We travel too much. Our lives are far too busy for us to be the ideal companion humans. And we are getting older. Another 15 year old dog just might outlive us! My brother reminds me that there are still more than enough dogs in the family to keep us company. He knows that in my heart, no dog could replace Babe.


Kel said...

sorry to hear of your loss
with a much loved dog of our own, we empathise with losing such a special member of your family

Heidi Renee said...

Dear Connie,

Babe was such a beautiful dog, and a big part of our memory of Dawsonwood Cottage. I, Keith & the kids will miss her too.

I love the idea of her playing in the fields of heaven!

anj said...

Oh Connie - You describe Babe with such tenderness, your words bring tears to my eyes. Companions of the truest sort, I am sorry for her death. Yes, your lifes are forever changed, funny how losing a 'pet' does that. Hugs to you. - Anj

magoo77 said...

It is so wonderful thinking of all the special memories of Babe. Amazing to think how much she added to our lives.
This blog will go in her scrapbook!
It is the right fit along with her lovely pictures and drawings.
It made me cry reading your thoughtful words about our dear 'Babe'
I will miss her dearly!
Nice to know that 'G' will have his companion along side.

annie said...

Connie, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I know she leaves an empty place in your hearts and in your home.

Barbara said...

Babe was a great dog. I loved her so much! She was beauiful and graceful. I can remember taking her for walks and being stopped by many people expressing just how beautiful they thought she was and Babe would sit prouldy acknowledging their comments. She new how beautiful and lovely she was. I can remember taking her to dog training and how quickly she learned!
I have the picture here of the first day we got Babe. I was wearing Sarah's shorts when we took a picture of me holding Babe. There was no getting out of that one! Especially after ademently denying that I had even seen the shorts. That memory always brings a smile to my face. I remember Babe and Daniel the cat laying and playing together.
She used to think that she was not a dog but human, and how Grandma would always leave toast for her from her breakfast.
Babe was such a good pet and was well loved. I will miss her!

Deb said...

I'm so sorry. We lost our dog last summer. She was 14-years-old. There are still days when I miss her so much that I ache.

wilsonian said...

Connie, I am so sorry for your loss...

Deb said...

So...any new grandchildren to tell us about yet??