Friday, January 13, 2012

One Dog's Life

I grew up around dogs, mostly small breeds, but my Dolly (grandmother)
always had medium/large dogs many an afternoon was spent lying on the grass with her dog Sammy. He was a collie/black lab mix, my head on his stomach, gazing at the sky, blowing bubbles or dandelions & just talking to him.

It wasn't until September of 1996 when my husband said a coworker's labrador had puppies, 
I was so excited to get to go out and choose one.
My older two sons were in school, so one sunny day, my youngest son Dylan, then age 3 and I hopped in our mini van and made the treck from Covina to Yucaipa.

We arrived to a home on 3.5 acres, a Mom with three small children greeted us.
She escorted us to the back yard where in a goat pen were 11 puppies.
Although the mother dog was a chocolate lab, the dads were all fence hoppers, 
so the puppies had all sorts of characteristics.
I was instantly drawn to the three spotted ones.

She lead us and the puppies to a large lawn area where we sat on a small retaining wall
and watched the puppies and four small children run around the lawn together.
One of the spotted puppies had a collar on and her kids kept telling me, that I couldn't have that one.
That was the one they were keeping. It was a male though, and we were wanting a female.
Their Mom leaned over to me and said, never mind them, you can have whichever one you want.

As we were watching the chaos, over trots one of the spotted females who sits right in between the two of us.  I looked down at her and commented, "how cute is this that all the other puppies are being maniacs and this one comes over and sits with us."  The lady told me how this one always seemed to key into her above all of the other puppies.

That was it, this was the one.
I really knew nothing of dogs at that time, but my gut told me this would be a good dog.
I LOVED her spots and the tiny sliver of blue in her right eye.

Dylan and I loaded her up into a box and brought her home.  She cried the entire way
and proceeded to whine and barely eat for almost three days after.
She seemed depressed and missed her Momma dog.
We named her Phoebe.
Once she got over it, she settled in quite well with our young family.
The boys were 10, 5 and 3 years old and there was plenty of activity for her.
I believe the greatest bond with any of my sons to her was Dylan.

(Notice in most of the pictures, it is him with her)

Phoebe had a lot of adventures with us, hiking, camping and each and every day, for as long
as this dog could jump in and out of a car, she went with me to 
take and pick up my boys at school.

SO many nights, in our condo, when my husband and children were asleep, I would retreat to my little corner of the garage where I had a craft space setup.  
On warm evenings. I would leave the garage door open while working.
Phoebe never left my side when that garage door was open.
She would sit at the opening, sitting straight up on guard, keeping watch up and down the alley.
If she saw a person coming, she would growl, warning them that she saw them and me that someone was there.  She never door darted or wandered.  She just stayed close to us and would herd all of the kids as they were playing.  Being half Australian Sheperd is where these traits came in and even though she was only half Aussie it was her that made me fall in love with the breed.

Once we took her to Bonelli park and it was her first encounter with ducks.
This large flock of ducks saw us coming and quickly escaped to the safety of the lake.
Phoebe was really intrigued and ran back and forth across the shoreline, each time she stopped
placing her paws inch by inch deeper into the water, until all at once, she leapt and plunged headlong into the lake.

We start frantically yelling at her to return, but she had it in her mind to get closer to these ducks, who just quacked and swam farther out.
Thinking, Crap...I am going to have to go out in the lake to save my dog, because I had no idea she could swim this well....this is where the Lab in her kicked in and she LOVED the water.
Turn on a hose and Phoebe went nutz, a little obsessively.

As life for our family changed and my first husband and I split, he took the cats, but Phoebe came with me.  She was MY dog and there was no negotiation about it.

The first time John (who would become my second husband) came to the house, I warned him.
Phoebe doesn't take to men too well, so beware, she might growl at you.
Within minutes, she was laying beside him on the floor.
I stood in awe and he simply replied,
"My dad always said trust the instinct of your dog".
And Phoebe was right, John was a good man
After awhile, she became his dog.  
She went to the ranch to visit the horses and every day when he came home from work, she would hear his truck a block away and be at the front door waiting for him.
I have to admit, it use to get me a little jealous.

When John died it took Phoebe weeks to not look for him and once in awhile when she heard a truck that sounded like his, she would go to the window and look for him.

It was heartbreaking.

In time, she was mine again and has always slept on the floor beside my bed.
As a matter of fact, there are now 3 dog beds and one kennel that lines the wall beside my side of the bed, where all of my dogs sleep except Lilly the wiener dog who sleeps buried under the covers
 with Emily.

When Rob came into our lives my Mom said the same thing about him,
"oh, Phoebe likes him? He must be alright then"
Rob lovingly embraced my human and canine children with his whole heart
and they love him back equally.

Years of Frisbee, hiking in the mountains, playing fetch, playing in the water watching each of her boys and Emily grow, she has been the most loyal and loving dog.
As she has aged, she greets me less often at the door, her hips, hearing and vision fading.
She tries to play as much as she can, bunny hopping as her back legs are so bad, only to barely be able to walk the next day.  Like all of us when we age, there are good and bad days.
Days she eats and days she doesn't. Days she just lays in bed all day, especially when it is cold.

It is hard to watch someone you love, Human or animal age and fail.

6 years ago, I had a large fat tumor removed from her side, extending her life.
This past year, another grew lower than the first and in the past few months it has doubled in size to that of 10 by 9 inches protruding from her and stretching her skin to the tightest it could stretch.
I have no idea how large it is on the inside.
The vet has warned me it could burst and then what kind of trauma would the end of her life be?
At 15.5 years old (108.5 in dog years)
after much discussion with my family and her Vet, we have decided to say goodbye.
It has been a hard week for me, questioning myself if the time is right,
but my family keeps telling me it is.

So, if I ever hear someone say, "it is just a dog"
I might slap them and say, look again, it is a loyal friend and family member for life.


We LOVE you and will MISS you.


  1. I'm so sorry Lisa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even think about my little Gracie being gone. She is my shadow, my sweetheart, my daily dose of love and affection. Your Phoebe was beautiful and what a long love story you shared with her. I'm so sorry for your loss. hugs! xxoo Jen

  2. the tears are rolling down my face - heartbreaking to see them go. that's all i'm gonna say.


  3. Lisa, I am soo sorry. We had to make the same decision several months ago. Phoebe was a beauty! She was very lucky to have a Mama and family like you and yours.

    xo and love, Amber

  4. my heart is breaking for you and your family...I love my dogs more than life and I fully understand this is the hardest thing to do....praying for strenght for you thru this and peace that its the right time and you have given this family member the best life ever...

  5. so sorry Lisa, Sweet Phoebe... what a beautiful life she had with your family, It is so hard to say goodbye to our precious friends, one of the hardest things.... I think.
    Praying that God will send comfort and peace, as only he can. Phoebe's spirt will always follow you, and you will be with her again someday.
    sending much love, (and tears) Debi

  6. I am feeling your pain my Principessa. Such a beautiful post of Phoebe, a full long life with her Family. Baci

  7. Such a touching tribute to your sweet Phoebe. Sending hugs to your Lisa. They are truly our children! Hold on to those precious memories of her!

  8. Oh. Lisa. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm sorry you had to go through it. But I've lived with regret since I had my German Shepherd, Tammy, put to sleep when I was about 18. Seeing pictures of Phoebe, with the same ailments my Tammy had, made me realize that it really is the only choice. It'd just be cruel to have them suffer. When I was 42 I had to do it again, this time with my kitty of 13 years whose kidneys were failing. Thank you for helping me make peace with my decisions. Life is bitter sweet. I believe we will all meet again. Prayers with you.

  9. Wow,I know that pain you are feeling as tears roll down my cheeks. What a beautiful tribute to Phoebe. The most difficult thing about our little furry friends is when they get old. It just breaks my heart. As I looked into the eyes of your Phoebe in that picture, I see my own "Sally the Cabana" dog. She is getting up their in age but each and every time I sit by my pool she is beside me in the other lounge chair! Our animals always hold a special place in our hearts!
    Take care my friend.


  10. I don't think it ever feels right to say goodbye, whether it be human or fur baby. However, sparing her any pain is the most selfless gift you can give her. Thinking of you and your sweet family as you let her go. What a wonderful life you each gave each other. Many hugs. . .

  11. Thinking of you today Lisa. I know how hard it is to say that good by to such a special friend. God gives us these sweet animals to love and nurture and in return they give us constant unfailing love all of their days. Such a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful Phoebe. What is loved is never forgotten, she had the best family in the world. Prayers and hugs to all of you today :))

  12. My sweet friend I wasn't able to get through your post without crying....
    By far the hardest thing to do this I know. Your beautiful Phoebe was just a
    love and her eyes always melted my heart. You know every time I came over she
    was my sweetheart and I loved when she jumped in my truck that one day to go with me :). She will be greatly missed for sure, but know honey you loved her like no other could!! All dogs go to heaven & Phoebe is running playing like a brand new puppy in paradise with my Honey dog. Sending BIG HUGS & prayers to ease your heart... XO

  13. Rest in peace Sweet Phoebe. I am so sorry you had to make this difficult decision.

  14. Lisa this was a beautiful tribute to our dear friend Phoebe. She was a loyal caring gentle dog and she was a protector of the family. I always thought it was interesting how the other dogs would just leave her alone. It was as if they knew she was in charge and was the was the leader of the pack and she never did anything different to gain their respect, it just happened. I loved her and will miss her, thank you again for these beautiful words. Love Mom

  15. Oh Lisa, I can hardly hold back the tears, what a special tribute to such a "special" dog. I have never owned a dog, but had friend with an Aussie dog, such as Pheobe, they are truely a wonderful breed. What a heart-warming story. Debbie

  16. Lisa,
    With tears in my eyes I just send to you a blessing and a thank you from the spirit heart of Phoebe, "thank you for loving me and for treating me with kindness, love and respect." I will see you again and I will be waiting for you at heavens gate with my forever master! Love never ends.

  17. Lisa,

    God bless you and your beautiul Phoebe. As a dog person I get it...My beloved dog, Buddha is my precious best friend forever. Thank you for being so gracious and vulnerable to share the story of Phoebes life.
    xox, Diana

  18. Oh LIsa, I feel your pain as the tears stream down my cheeks. It sounds like she had an amazing life with you and your family. May you find peace now that she has passed over the rainbow bridge and find comfort in the many memories. Take care.