Day 4, Writing 101 – Write about a loss
Well, for one thing, I’m not a person who hangs on to stuff. In fact, quite the opposite, I love to purge!!! However, there seems to be an item that I am having trouble parting with and that stuns even me.
My Great Dane, Piper, is six years old. I got her from the Sunshine Coast SPCA when I was living there in 2009.
I had the heartache of losing two dogs in 14 months – Scout was my heart, an ethereal black lab-border collie mix who touched many lives died suddenly at age nine and Ella, the husky-German shepherd with ice blue eyes that I adopted shortly after ended up with an incurable illness. I had to euthanize her after only having her for about a year. She was just two years old.
Ella had many issues. She was a feral dog when I adopted her and I had to work relentlessly with her to overcome negative behaviours. Just shy of her death she started showing real progress and we were a bonded unit. By the time she died I was pretty exhausted. The day after I put Ella down, I headed to the SPCA to start volunteering as a dog walker. I’m one of those people who is lost without a dog around. The SPCA manager knew Ella’s story and said, “You need a happy-go-lucky dog. I’ll keep any eye out for you.”
Enter the Great Dane litter that was rescued from an abusive backyard breeder with their mama. They ended up in an amazing foster home on the Coast and I was introduced to “Pick Me,” named for her outgoing personality and who literally picked me.
What a joy! Piper was the easiest puppy I’ve ever come into contact with. She has a gentle, sweet nature and loves everyone and everything. To this day she can melt my heart with a single look.
At the time the litter was old enough to be adopted out, I was fostering a senior dog who had been deteriorating in the shelter. The foster home hung on to Piper a little longer until we placed the old dog with a permanent family. That gave me lots of time to prepare for her arrival and as this was going to be my third dog as an adult, I had the situation totally figured out.
I bought a purple kiddie pool. You know, those ones you buy at the local Peavey Mart or Zellers for five or 10 bucks. It was round and I bought a dog bed that fit perfectly in it. I wanted to teach her to go to one place on command when I was at home and have her be somewhat cordoned off but not in a full kennel. The pool had high enough sides that even thought she had legs like a baby moose, it wasn’t easy for her to get in and out of and any pee accidents were contained by the plastic.
And then she started growing. I did say she is a Great Dane, right? And she grew and she grew and she grew and the pool ended up outside being used as a pool. She loves cooling off in it on hot days and fetching toys from it like someone bobbing for apples at Halloween. She barely fits in it. It take a fair bit of wiggling around to keep all of her long legs and tail within the walls of that fading purple pool. Often her arse is hanging off the edge and her front paws are up against the other side.
The pool got a hole in it last summer. It still holds water, just a slow leak, but we live two blocks from the lake. We don’t really need an old, leaky pool and yet I can’t throw it out. I haul it to the gate and swear I’m taking it to the dumpster and somehow it ends up back in the yard.
If I had to guess, I suppose I can’t throw it out because Piper was such a source of joy, love and hope after so much loss and the pool represents that puppy who bumbled into my life (and two cats) and lifted my spirits.
And every time she tries to curl up in it now that she is grown, it takes me back to those days of innocence and newness, which still makes me smile and can still lift my spirits after a rough day.