Tasha, our faithful German shepherd of 13 1/2 years, will make her final trip to the vet on Saturday. When we brought home the fuzzy, wiggly puppy in 1995 we had no idea what an important part of our lives she would be. From giving D a major case of the hives with her puppy fur to being the most amazing playmate for R, A, and M and being our live-insecurity system, it's been a great time with her. She has set the bar for all dogs coming after her very, very high.
But over the last year or so we noticed some changes. Her hearing weakened, her back legs weren't working so well. No apparent pain and she was still eager to play and try to keep up with Sam. Over the past few months the 'not so well' of her back legs became nil and she's had to move around by dragging herself. After some weeks of carrying her outside to 'do her business' (which didn't always happen in time!) we noticed that the dragging was leading to cuts on her legs and hip. D and I looked at each other and we both knew it was time. She'll be buried here at the farm, a decision the girls took part in and heartily agreed to. Thankfully the soil's not too frozen.
Having her in the house always made me feel a little bit safer, as her welcome to people approaching the door pretty much sounded like she was going into full attack dog mode. Despite that, she's never snapped at anyone. Ever. Even as she's gotten older she's never turned into a grumpy dog.
When kids pulled her tail, or fell on her, or grabbed handfuls of her fur to use her as a living walker, she stood still and looked at us with a patient-though-martyred look on her face. Seeing our 2-year-old reach into that huge mouth full of teeth to take a tennis ball caused more that one visitor to gasp, but the girls always knew they could trust her.
So long, old girl.