Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Thanksgiving Story






















I love the Thanksgiving holiday. For me it‘s about remembering and making transparent the blessings in our life, and it is a time for family. Finding all four of us under the same roof for any length of time is becoming more and more rare as the kids get older and develop lives of their own outside the family. We had a lovely day and wonderful dinner with 15 of us around the table.

My story is one of love and devotion, of family, of going the extra mile, and of heart.

I finished the preparations for dinner about 11 and my sister-in-law called and asked if I still wanted to go for a walk around the property. I took off down the hill to my parent’s house to meet Cindi and her good friend Kim. Kim wanted a walking tour of the property, and I was happy to oblige. It was a beautiful day, sunny and unseasonably warm for this time of year.

We took off across the lower pasture and walked toward the far pond. The grass in the fields has that winter amber glow. Delicate, green, fern-like plants are hiding beneath the pasture grasses. We passed between the ponds and headed into the woods onto one of the many trails that we have cut through the deep woods for running and hiking. We wound our way through the woods along the stream that cuts through the property along sections of hand-built stacked limestone fence that marks the edge of my parent’s land. After about 30 minutes of hiking up, we emerged out of the woods to pasture land that we call “top of the world”. Top of the world is a section of open pasture, half brome grass and half native Kansas prairie grasses. It sits above the rest of the property and is ringed by woods. In a few minutes we walked to the highest point and surveyed the land and the surroundings. From top of the world you can see my parent’s house, the barn, and our house up on the opposite hill. It’s a beautiful vista. We continued our walk to the other side of the top of the world pasture and about a ¼ mile away I turned to look and I thought a saw a deer back on the crest. It was definitely an animal, brown. I assumed it was a deer. I walked closer to get a better view and past the woods that partially obstructed my view. Together we figured out that it wasn’t a deer, but a dog. We could clearly see the wagging tail. The 3 of us were walking with my mom’s lab, Rusty. I said, let’s get going so Rusty won’t follow that dog. I assumed it was a stray wandering the property. So we took off back into the woods, down the old, blackberry patch road to the other side of the property. We walked for a few minutes and Kim turned around and said, “what’s that?” She heard something crunching the leaves behind her. And there, right behind her, was the dog we had seen earlier.

It wasn’t a stray at all. It was my lab, Fudge. We were all shocked. You have to understand, Fudge is a 13 ½ year old lab. She has severe arthritis in her hips and she struggles with stairs and a walk around the block is a big day for her. Evidently, right after I took off down the hill, my hubby decided to go for a run. In her youth, Fudge ran with Steve for miles and miles. They were running partners for many years. If she wasn’t running with him, she was walking with me. These days when he takes off for a run he usually runs with her for about 100 feet or so and then she stops and watches him run. She knows her limitations. That morning, Steve did the same thing. He let her out and she ran with him for a bit and stopped. He assumed that she would go back to the house and wait for him to return. He was wrong.

Fudge had other ideas. She had seen me take off from the house for my walk and knew Steve was gone running and she was bound and determined not to be left behind. I don’t know what route she took or how she got to us, but she got there and considering she left some time after we did and caught up with us she didn’t dawdle. She put her nose to the ground and sniffed and located me on the 110 acre property. She approached us with her tail wagging and her head held high. She was where she belonged.

We were on the farthest point of the property away from the house and there was no short way, or for that matter, easy way home. She had no choice but to do the rest of the walk with us in order to get home. At that point I didn’t know if she would make it. I thought for a moment that this would be the way she would want to go. It was a fleeting thought. I really didn’t want to go there.

She plugged along like a trooper, through the woods, up and down ravines, over fields and back home. Her back legs gave out a couple of times and she stumbled, but she never stopped, she never gave up. She even led the way, tail wagging above the tall grass, each of us, cheering her on at the difficult points of the route.

We reached my parent's house and she made a beeline for Rusty’s water bowl, drank a few sips, then found his bed and gingerly and stiffly lay down. I called Steve and asked him to come down with the car so she didn’t have to hike up the 1/8 of a mile hill that is our driveway. He came and we lifted her into the back of the car for the ride up. She was relieved, but a bit insulted at the same time.

She spent the remainder of the day cuddled on her bed strategically located between the living room and kitchen so that she could keep an eye on the festivities. She received lots of attention throughout the day and evening as cousins and aunts and uncles sat by her bed stroking her ears and rubbing her tummy, marveling at the physical feat she had accomplished that morning.

Fudge is a member of our family. She lives to be with us. She had the desire, the need, and the heart to do what she did that morning despite her physical limitations.

She’s still hurting today. She had trouble getting up and down the steps to get outside this morning. She’s limping on one of her front legs. We are doing what we can to make her comfortable. Scooby snacks seem to help. I slept on the couch last night so she wouldn’t have to make the climb up to the bedroom. I’m sure it will take her a long time to recover. I have a feeling if you asked her, she’d say it was all worth it. My baby has heart and loves her family. We love her too.

37 comments:

Dawn said...

Your 'baby' is such a heart-tugging, adorable member of your family. Your story was soooo endearing -- such a dear place our pets have in our lives!!

Tine said...

Aww...that is a sweet story! I hope she feels better soon :)

Frogdancer said...

Sometimes we take for granted how much our dogs adore us and want to be with us. It takes so little to make them happy. I hope that your old girl recovers quickly.

Great story, and one that your family will never forget.

Vicki W said...

What a great story and a beautiful dog.

Donna said...

Thanks for sharing this story with us. I have a 13.5 year old lab, too. She's now blind, deaf, incontinent (controlled by meds), and arthritic. She's is so loyal to our family. It touches me heart to see my one year old give her hugs and tugs at my heart to know that my 2 baby girls won't grow up together. I cherish every day we have with her because I know it's borrowed time.

Amy @ Park City Girl said...

Sweet puppy. I know she's hardly a pup - but it seems that's how she was thinking of herself :)

trashalou said...

Gotta love when they 'have' to be with you. Send her our best wishes and we hope she feels better soon.

Darcie said...

That's a beautiful story, Jacquie. Our Lucky is a yellow lab/golden retriever cross...and her heart is as big as your Fudge's. Aren't they just the most personable canines around?!

Please give a hug to Fudge from me. There's nothing like the love that comes from a family dog's heart and soul. Nothing. ;-)

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

What a moving tale of the strong relationship between you and your darling Fudge! It bought a tear to my eye. Hope she is resting comfortably after her big day out.

Kerry said...

What a lovely story, one that you will treasure years after Fudge is gone. Hope she is feeling better soon.

mau said...

What a beautiful girl. She is so loyal but aren't our dogs all loyal. I have a chiquagua that you would not believe how much love he has for us and us for him. Beautiful story indeed. What a wonderful thanksgiving you must've had.

mamaspark said...

You made me cry! She is a keeper! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Melanie O said...

What a touching story! So much determination she has! I hope she feels better soon!

Penny said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes and thank you for writing it. Fudge sounds like our Jezebel in that she likes to be where she can see her family. What a good girl she must be.

magikquilter said...

What a wonderful tale of your baby who would not be left behind!

Thankyou for sharing this Jacquie, I am extremely grateful that I have met you.

MightyMom said...

that is the sweetest story!

thanks for sharing.

can the vet give her any pain killers??

Michaela said...

That is an amazing story. Dogs are such fateful companions. You reminded me a dog I grew up with, who had several very similar adventures like Fudge. Her name was Fana.
I also loved your description of the property, I felt like I was walking there with you. I am a mountain girl, but I fell in love with prairie ever since I came to Illinois.

Stephanie D. said...

Sweet Thanksgiving story! Our four-legged family members give so much and ask so little. Stories like this remind me to spend a little extra time with my furbaby.

Amy said...

Please pat her gently on her furry head for me and give her a kiss behind her ears too.

Jackie said...

I love your story, Jacquie. The picture of Fudge is fantastic. I grew up with a black lab and they are absolutely the best dogs. So friendly and wonderful hearts. So glad she made it to you!

Anonymous said...

I have tears in my eyes - such a typical lab thing to do! They are such a central part of the family. Hope she rests well & enjoys the attention!
Chris x

MichelleB said...

What a wonderful story. It tugs at the heart strings.

Rebekah said...

what a great story! That is so beautiful how Fudge is so devoted to your family. I hope she feels better soon!

True Blue Nana said...

I love your story. I sent it to my friend who has an old Golden that has the same kind of heart.

Hilary said...

What a cute story. My dog used to look a lot like Fudge and had similar problems. Try pouring a little liquid Glycosamine (got ours at Costco) on her food, and the vet told me if she's having a bad day you can give her children's Tylenol.

QuiltedSimple said...

What a wonderful story!!! I'm sure she enjoyed the walk immensley! And I hope that she is feeling better as the days go by. What a wonderful companion!
Kris

Holly said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. God bless you and Fudge.

Victoria said...

This beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful spirit of love and devotion, shared equally by all of you. Thanks for sharing, and big hugs to your sweet Fudge!

~D Spack~ said...

Great story Jacquie! Thanks. your walk and area sound so wonderful-idyllic.Someday, we all should come to the midwest for a blogging retreat! at your house! :) Cute placecards, is someone named Buzz?

Cami said...

What a sweet story. We have a dog that sounds just like this. She is 13 and it is starting to show. She tries her best to still be a puppy at heart but her old body just won't let her. She is still a big part of our family.

Jackie said...

That is a story of a dog with heart, brave and true! Makes me miss ours, he died a year ago and I'm only now able to consider another one.
And I have to say your Kansas home sounds wonderful. I do miss the wide open, big beautiful sky, and the pastureland. But I don't miss the wind. Missouri isn't that far, but there are a lot of trees breaking up that wind.

Leanne said...

What a beautiful post.....we have 2 dogs who are loved just like your Fudge. Thanks for taking me on your walk.

Rita said...

Fudge, she's such a beautiful and loving part of your family. Hope she feels better again soon~

Julie said...

oh, bless her little heart! this is why dogs are called man's best friend. hope your precious girl is feeling better now. she deserves all the love you are giving her.

merry christmas to you & her!
julie

Sherri said...

Hi Jacquie, what a lovely story. Our furry friends are just amazing and always giving us wonderful surprises like that. I work at an animal hospital and we get arthritic pets in all the time. Did you know that there are medications you could get from your vet to help ease her discomfort? I'm glad she had such a wonderful day and all that attention afterward.

Janis said...

What a beautiful and heart-warming story. It brought a tear to my eye too and reminds me that each moment we are blessed to share with our precious pets is to be treasured.

. . . And you write so eloquently!

Anonymous said...

loved the story of Fudge. I had a cat that on the first night we had him, my daughter cried in the middle of the night and we went in and he curled up next to her and refused to leave. Over the years he would go into her room, jump up on her bed and played a game with her. She is severely retarded and he should have been wary of her but he had a special love for her. when he wasn't with her he defended me against big dogs. I am sure he sits on the right hand of god.