It’s been an emotional week. For those of you on Facebook, you may have read that our dog Missy passed away. I really don’t want to write about it. The whole thing is just breaking me up inside. We saw she was sick but had no idea how bad she was sick. We called our vet emergency line, because it was on a Sunday. He asked us a bunch of questions, and finally said that he would try to fit her in the next day, even though he was booked solid. There were not visible injuries, and given her symptoms, the standard procedure was to be seen by the vet between 24-48 hours.
I tried bringing Missy inside the house, but she would have none of that. She’s an outside dog, and has always had near anxiety attacks being surrounded by walls. We used to put her in the barn when the windchill got around -30 degrees in the winter, and she always hated us for it and would vomit from the stress. She preferred to lay on a hill where she could see everything, though it put her in the thick of the wind. She was a livestock guardian, and if she couldn’t see what was coming, she couldn’t relax.
I got her as far as the kitchen that night, and she decided she didn’t like it one bit.
However, when Knut checked on her in the morning in her doghouse, he saw she had died sometime in the middle of the night.
It hit us like a punch in the gut. She was about at half the age of her breed’s life expectancy. Missy is my right hand. She guards the chickens, turkeys, sheep, and lets the kittens crawl all over her. She was Lena’s wrestling buddy, and spoiling auntie to the kittens. She was a “nanny” to my kids outside, and loved nothing more than to have a toddler petting her. She chased off our lawn countless predators every night. We’d hear the barking and animal fights and know that she was living her dream doing so. Great Pyrenees take on bears and even win if they need to, they don’t fear much. So little mink and raccoons were a piece of cake for her.
During the day we often tied her up because she liked to nap on the road (despite her shock collar…she figured it was a neck-massage feature of her napping spot) but if a hawk came into the yard trying to get a chicken, the chickens would all run the the radius of her chain, and huddle under her like little chicks. Sometimes she’d push them in her doghouse, and sit at the opening if the flying predator wouldn’t leave.
Honestly, I’m not sure what we will do without her. She was our moving fence, our field camera, our friend.
We haven’t had one big service by her grave. We’ve had a few mini ones, sadly because we’ve just been running everywhere lately. I think it’s been good though, so the kids knew they didn’t have to be over it right away. We decided to bury her near her favorite lookout spot, near the edge of the woods. I told the kids they could draw Missy a picture, and we would cover them with rocks, and they would eventually turn to dust, and be a part of her grave. Silje and Elias each made a picture, but David, who hates 2 dimensional art, asked if he could make her a cross for a headstone. We said that would be fine too. He took out his whittling knife and made a smooth stick for the crosspiece, and when we got out there, I see that he had decorated it too.
We’ve been talking a lot about how it’s okay to cry. We talk about how Jesus wept with his friends. We talk about how death never, ever feels normal.
David has taken this burial very seriously, but it doesn’t help that he just finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows a few weeks before Missy died, and has listened to it twice on the iPod since then. Actually maybe it did help. He felt certain he knew what to do when she passed and how to handle mourning with honor. It’s a good book. You would think Silje would be used to animal death by now, as she has lost her rabbits and not all kittens make it, but like I said, you don’t get used to it. It’s been hard on her too. You just keep loving the ones you have everyday. You can’t remove loss from the equation of love when it comes to animals. You just can’t. And we’ll just keep loving them.