It was October of 2017. We had just lost our Newfoundland Rufus to B-cell lymphoma the day before. I felt the best way to commemorate Rufus and assuage the grief was to love someone new. So somewhat against Beth’s wishes, I dragged us to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter to adopt a dog in need.
We “interviewed” several dogs, but the only one who responded to us was a female pit bull terrier mix named Precious. She was seven years old, and had been left at the shelter by her previous family. We never learned why. Anyway, she’d been at the animal shelter for nine days when we came by. She joined our family that day.
We knew her life was half over when we adopted her, but why deny a sweet dog a “forever home” for that reason? And she was sweet, from the very first.
Precious was a cuddlebug. Her idea of a high old time was to sit with her head in my lap. She did so often. She also loved food – any kind, in any amount, at any time – and a wide variety of treats.
Precious was also an escape artist. She managed to worm her way through or under our fence a dozen times. Neighbors would call, thank God, and hold her until I could get there from wherever I was to pick her up. For a while it was almost a ritual.
She did cost us some trouble. She was bossy toward Sophie, our German Shepherd mix. And she never really got along with Joy, the Newfoundland puppy we acquired in 2020. They got into one fight – over food, of course – that cost Precious three teeth and me a paralyzed finger. We learned how to prevent future scraps between them. We had to; I couldn’t afford to lose the use of another finger.
We didn’t know until quite recently that Precious had a heart defect. It first manifested as a very faint murmur. Our veterinarian thought it should be watched, but no more than that. Unfortunately, watching it wasn’t enough to prevent catastrophic congestive heart failure, which struck Precious sometime Tuesday. She lost the use of her back legs, her breathing became labored, and at the last could hardly move under her own power.
We took Precious on her last ride this morning. At about eleven AM, she “crossed the Rainbow Bridge.”
Precious isn’t the first pet I’ve had to bid farewell. I’ve owned dogs, cats, hamsters, a white rat, even, quite briefly, an opossum. But experience doesn’t make it any easier. Then again, what I really dread is the day my animals, of whatever kind and number they may be, have to bid farewell to me.
Rest in peace, beloved friend. May God gather you to His bosom.