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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Silent Footsteps

The footsteps shuffling down the tile hallway are silent now. No more the wimpers as she sleeps, feet moving in chase of an elusive rabbit. Stilled is the heart of the hunter that caught and killed a road runner just a couple of years ago. Silent is the howl of her beagle voice. Quiet is the nose that once explored millions of unseen scents in the air and on the ground, earning her the name Mila the Explorer. No more is that sensitive nose that seemed to know what was in the shopping bag before it was even unpacked.

I catch myself going to look for her when I come home, to make sure she is OK and take her outside for one of her many potty breaks. When I hear a dog walk into the room where I am writing, I wonder which yellow dog it is. And then I remember -- there is only one yellow dog in the house now. There is but one bowl to fill each morning and evening, only one leash to attach to but one collar.

Mila was not an easy dog in her youth. Seemingly discarded while pregnant, with no microchip or collar, it appeared she had never set foot inside a house. She was not house trained, she hid behind the furniture, and she never learned to play. She did, however, learn to appreciate the comfort of a soft dog bed. She suffered from separation anxiety, tearing down drapes and doing some $300 in damage to plantation shutters. Even years later, she would chew up remote controls, books and shoes. Later still, she settled down and became less destructive. But she would wander through the house looking for me if I moved to a different room from where she was sleeping. And if I left the house, I often would find her waiting by whichever door I had exited.

Mila was aloof and disliked a lot of attention. She hated having her nails cut and would tolerate only a couple of minutes of brushing. But she enjoyed our nightly snuggle on her bed, the belly rubs when she was being silly and rolling around on her back, and having her soft ears stroked. And oh, did she love a good neck massage.

It is these things, along with the most beautiful gold eyes I have ever seen, and her unrivaled devotion to me, that I will always remember. Rest well, my Missy Lou, my Piglet, my Sweet Pea. Run free, with no pain and no bad hips or arthritis to slow you down. Follow your nose wherever it may lead you. And know, my faithful friend, that we WILL be together again, never to be separated. I love you, Piggy.