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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Purdy: Feb 14, 1997 - June 12, 2008

She was named after Purdita, the female dalmatian from 101 Dalmatians, even though she was a Border Collie mix. The boys named her.

On an early April Saturday, 1997, my wife and I walked into Walmart, and outside of the doors was a family giving away puppies. After begging for the entire shopping experience (though she somewhat denies it) I said, "If there are any left, we'll get one." We already bought the puppy food, so I knew what was about to happen.

There were three puppies left, and the one we liked was still there. The lady said the mother was a Border Collie and the father was a solid black dog "of some kind." They were born on Valentine's Day.

My wife handled all of them, but it was the one who licked her chin that became our new puppy.

When we got home, our boys (ages 8 and 11) were so excited. They were watching a Disney video, like every Saturday morning. This was one of the first times we left them home alone. When Mom brought the puppy up the stairs, the boys started jumping around. The puppy opened her eyes, and wagged her tail. The boys immediately had a name...she would be called Purdy.

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Yesterday evening, while I was at a small track meet, my wife called and asked if I had seen Purdy during the day. I had seen her at her water bowl, and I thought she was tied up. She wasn't.

It was hot (mid-90s), so we usually kept her in the house or on the back porch where there was plenty of shade. Apparently, one of our porch doors was not secure, and Purdy opened the door. This was something she learned early. We actually had to move the hook-and-eye lock out of her reach because she could unlock the doors when she wanted out. Anyway, she was gone, and we haven't seen her since. My older son is now 22, and is heart-broken...Purdy really was his dog.

I learned some valuable lessons from Purdy:

We are born to do something specific
Purdy was a Border Collie. That means she was born to herd. We have a large pond across the street from our house. When Purdy was young, she would run after the ducks and geese. We thought she was trying to eat them. One day she got away from us, started to run after a group of four or five ducks that were not with the rest of the flock. We just knew one of them was going to become a meal. We were wrong. Purdy ran the ducks across the road, so all the ducks would be together. She herded ducks instead of sheep...really. She also chased cars, because (as we learned) if she couldn't do what she was born to do, she would find a way to do it anyway. She would have loved this morning's scene in our front yard...62 Canadian Geese were eating breakfast.

We are bored when we can't do what we are meant to do
The one thing that we didn't enjoy about having a dog was our leash law. My wife grew up on a farm, and her dogs ran free. We are outside the city limits, but in a neighborhood. Our county passed a leash law a few years ago, which meant that Purdy had to walk with us on a leash. We only leashed her when others were outside though. On a leash, Purdy just went through the motions. She looked at us as if to say, "What did I do wrong? Why the restriction? I'll be good, really I will. Aahh, what's the point." We adjusted our walking time so she could run and play along her route.



We are excited when we learn new things
When Purdy was a young dog (maybe 6 months old), we read that Border Collies would play fetch until your arm got tired. So we thought we would try and see if this was true. It was for us. After about five throws, Purdy had the idea of what was supposed to happen. I recall playing fetch in the yard and in the pond. When we finished my arm was shot, my son's arm was tired, and Purdy looked up, ready to go again. We played fetch many hours over the past 11 years. The last couple of years, Purdy controlled the game though. She would return the tennis ball a few times. When she had enough she would chase the ball, clutch it in her jaws, jog to the shade, drop the ball on the ground, and roll on the ball like she was scratching her back. Very cute.



Be patient and soak it in
For about the past five months, my wife and I have noticed that Purdy was slowing down...a lot. Our walks were becoming slower paced, and Purdy wanted to stop and sniff the grass, flowers, and berries. At times, she was just stare off into the distance. We'd keep walking, and call her. It was like she would come out of a trance, look around and think "Oh, yeah. I'm coming." She stopped herding ducks about a year ago. She just didn't have the energy.



When it's time to go, try to go quietly with pride
I'm not sure what has happened to Purdy. We have called the pound. We have talked with all the neighbors - all of whom knew Purdy very well - she was the community dog in a way. She loved children, would walk with them along the shoreline, lick their hands, and "protect" them from the ducks. Our assumption at this point is that she found an opportunity to go away quietly to the woods nearby, where she could take a nap in the coolness of the moist ground under a pine tree to escape the 90 degree heat. That way she wouldn't be a burden to us.
My wife always said, "She's a proper lady." I wish I could have said goodbye, and rubbed her ears one last time...she always liked that, and would force her snout under my hand when I tried to quit before she wanted me to.

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This was the last picture I took of Purdy. She was in the back of my truck getting ready to go get her shots. She used to be very nervous in the back of the truck, but this time she was comfortable enough to lay down on the ride. She had never done that before.



I don't know if "all dogs go to heaven" is theologically sound, but if they do, Purdy deserved it. She was the best value we've ever had from Walmart.

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2 Comments:

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Phil Smith said...

There is no consolation for this. I am so sorry for you and your family. I resisted a dog for years and now the one we have absolutely owns me. This was a beautiful post. I shared it with my wife, and children. The fact you could garner lessons from your loss is very impressive. Thanks for the thoughts!!

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger Ric Murry said...

Phil & Family,

Thanks for your comment. May you have many happy years with your dog. Happy Father's Day.

Ric

 

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