On December 21, our pet dog of 14 years quietly passed away. It wasn’t totally unexpected as she had been slowing down, sleeping a lot, and having a harder time moving. She was seriously ill a few months ago and we weren’t sure would make it then. But she pulled through, and when she started having the same symptoms, we tried the same treatment, but it didn’t work this time.
We got Susie (or Suzie — I seemed to go back and forth with how to spell it) in a parking lot of W-Mart in Georgia fourteen summers ago. I haven’t seen this before or since, but a family had puppies in the open trunk of their car with a big sign advertising free puppies. Jason, then almost 10, pleaded, “Can we just go look at them?” Jim and I looked at each other — we knew what would happen if we “just looked.” But we had talked off and on about getting a puppy for the boys and figured this was a good time.
The puppies were half Collie, half German Shepherd. And cute, of course, as puppies are. We chose one, but since we hadn’t planned for a puppy we had to leave her in the car while we dashed in the store for puppy supplies. When we got home, she seemed not quite as playful and energetic as puppies are wont to be, and we began to wonder if something was wrong. We had planned for her to be an outside dog, but we decided to let her in for a while. She walked straight to an air conditioner vent and flopped down on it. (My husband quipped, “She’s just like you!) Poor doggie — even though we hadn’t been in the store long and we had left the windows cracked, it was still hot out in the van. We learned quickly not to do that again.
(Yes, I know that’s a weird color for carpet. In real life it was more of a dark rose, but we still had to think about whether we could live with it before we bought that house.)
First bath — she never did like water!
One of the first days we took her for a walk, she noticed and ran up to another puppy in a yard down the street. We noticed the puppy looked a lot like her, and then noticed the mom was a collie, and the dog next door was a German Shepherd. We put two and two together and realized that this must be her family. How funny that they were right down the street but we didn’t meet them or know about the dogs until the W-Mart parking lot! Thankfully she didn’t fuss when we left them in their yard.
I didn’t get any photos of this, but when we took her for walks then, she would hold part of the leash in her mouth as if to say, “I’ll hold it myself, thank you.” In retrospect it might have been more comfortable for her that way, I don’t know.
As she grew she began to look like a German Shepherd.
From her earliest days she loved to be with the kids on the trampoline.
When Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit:
Building her dog house:
Walking in the woods behind our house:
I’m not sure how old she was when what I called her “mane” began to grow out and she started looking more like a collie, except that her coloring still looked like a German Shepherd. Jeremy said he was glad we had taken pictures through the years or else he would never have believed she looked so different as a puppy.
Love her woebegone expression there. As I said, she never did like water!
She was afraid of thunderstorms. We’d let her in, and she’d try to hide under the desk. That led to this post once.
She was handy to have around to help clean up spills. 🙂
One of our favorite memories was the way she’d anticipate getting breakfast leftovers on Sunday mornings. If we had let her in overnight, she’d be waiting at the bottom of the stairs. We had a barrier up, just a flattened cardboard box to keep her from coming upstairs while we ate, and once she knew we were about to come, she’d start bouncing to see over the cardboard. It was so cute — I wish we had filmed it. I don’t think she did that at any other time. I don’t know if it was the particular smells or sounds or what that told her it was that time of week.
She even helped Mittu not be so afraid of dogs:
Even when the kids weren’t on the trampoline, she loved to sit there and observe her domain. Even when they didn’t use it much any more, we left it up for her. It was kind of sad when she couldn’t get up there any more as she got older.
When we’d pull up in the driveway, she’d jump up and start prancing all around the trampoline, barking away, as if to say, “I’m on the job! I’m watching out for everything!” Actually, she was never much of a watchdog. She would follow anyone who came into the yard, looking to be petted.
She did have a propensity to wander, so we had to keep her on a line when we didn’t have a fence. But it ran the whole length of the yard, so she wasn’t confined. We did actually lose her once when she somehow got loose right after we moved to SC. Thankfully we found her at the local Humane Society where someone had turned her in. But even when Jim would take her off her line to hang around with him while he worked in the yard, she’d wander off, so she pretty much had to be kept on a line all the time.
She wasn’t the brightest dog. She sort-of learned how to shake hands, sit, lie down, and roll over. But she’d get them mixed up, especially in her excitement if she knew you were going to give her a treat. But she was loving and attentive, a pleasant companion. Whenever anyone would pet her or talk to her, she looked up at them adoringly, very helpful for boys going through adolescence.
She was our only pet except for a hamster before her. And I think a goldfish, won at a fair, that we had for only a brief time.
I don’t think we’re getting another dog, at least not any time soon. Jesse’s about to leave for college next fall, and Jim doesn’t really have time to spend with a dog, and I, honestly, don’t like the icky, smelly part of having pets and don’t seem to have an authoritative enough voice or manner to have them obey me, which in turn causes problems, so I wouldn’t want the primary responsibility of one. I can see Jim maybe having a dog to pal around with when he retires. His family grew up with a dog and a cat all the time (along with sometimes having a calf, chickens, myna birds, and assorted other animals through the years.)
But for now we’ll just enjoy the memories of Susie.