Smudge, Muffin, Pokey, Chester

She came to us two days before Easter, 1995 and left us two days after Christmas, 2007…today. She was the family dog and the finest one we had ever known. She came at a happy time, but a time that this family needed her. Our oldest son was in college, we had one in high school and one in middle school. For some reason, the family that had her at birth let her go at 6 weeks old and she was truly a baby…a little brown teddy bear that we held up to our face and she smelled like only newborn puppies can and she made a little grunting noise. She was the regal dog, the only pedigree we had ever gotten. Two years before we had to put our little mut, Muffin, to sleep from old age. she was fourteen. This time we wanted the dog’s dog…a Labrador retriever. We drove to Pennsylvania and picked up the cutest dog we had ever seen, paid $350. for her, brought her home and named her Smudge. She was a great dog who’s sole purpose in life was to retrieve a ball and get in the garbage. She was a wonderful swimmer and spent a few hours at the local mud hole retrieving balls from the pond. She also loved the snow, sticks, sleeping by the fire, and her best friend, Pokey, the crazy black lab we got two years later. At about six months we noticed that she was limping and found out that she had a condition in her lower leg joint that rendered her with arthritis at a year old. We opted to not operate on her, and for the most part, I am glad we made the decision, though she would suffer with pain in that joint and in her hip toward the end of her life. The next twelve years went very quickly and we saw two of our parents die, our two other children go off to college, and our grandchild born. Our grandson, Gabe, loved her and Pokey. Through all of the ups and downs of daily family living, Pokey and Smudge were there, except for this one, of course.

In the last year Smudge began to show signs of failing health. We had a hard time accepting it. She had a hard time getting up (and down) off of the floor. The six or so months before today, we daily picked up poop in the middle of the night, sometimes several times a day.This is the same dog who would never….I repeat…never go to the bathroom in our house. Our vet did not quite understand it, but I think that the pain in her hips and leg somehow rendered her partially paralyzed and she had lost all control. We still couldn’t let go and she never complained…really, she never complained. Sometimes recently it turned to diarrhea and we began to change her diet giving her only rice and chicken so that she could digest it better, and we gave her medicine for pain every day and every night. She became very, very thin. I worry now we didn’t feed her enough. She was hungry, but did her typical getting into the garbage thing. I suspected she had cancer. We had taken her to the vet for this in August, and though we toyed with taking her again, we kind of knew she would not return. Right before Christmas we talked about putting her to sleep. Her diarrhea had gotten really bad. We decided to hold off until after Christmas. Everyone was home for the holidays and they got to see her. She seemed frail and honestly not herself. She kept seeking out the garbage again which was really weird, because she could barely get off the floor. We went out shopping the day after Christmas, yesterday. When we returned, we discovered that she had eaten two bags of chocolate chips. The rest, as they say, is history.

I would have liked to have taken her to the shore . We always said we would take her there and never did. I think she may be running along the water right now. I like to think that is true. I suddenly regret the times I was angry with her for getting into garbage or being stubborn like she always was. I hope she knew how much I loved her. Because she was so sick, we didn’t have our usual day today where she awoke, ate her breakfast and went out to play in the backyard with her buddy. But, what we did have was twelve years with a faithful and loyal friend and we will miss her more than I can write or words could say. We returned home this morning to our sweet and crazy Pokey. I have no idea how she will make it without Smudge when she would never so much as step out of the house without running and getting Smudge.Our house will now seem unbelievably lonely…just me, my husband and Pokey. We will all try to help each other along the way.I’ve realized that it is the best and the worst of life. Before she died today, I told her I loved her and I thanked her for being a true and loyal friend. Til we meet again, old friend, I hope you are chasing balls and picking through garbage and that you are running freely playing with your old pal Chester, the cat.

Cindy from NJ