09 February 2012

The Holly and the Ivy

My Pup Ivy.  31 August 1997 - 08 February 2012

My (our) dog Ivy passed away last night. She was fourteen and a half. She was probably the happiest dog you could ever hope to know, with the sweetest temperament imaginable. She never bit or nipped, she never complained, she was always bright eyed and cheery. Even towards the end you could tell that she was happy to just lie next to you, having her head stroked. She was a wonderful puppy and friend. She was my Pup-sicle, Pup-tart, and even Pup-cake.

Okay she was a lot bigger than a puppy, she was a bit (a lot) of a fatty, she loved food and disliked walking. Which, in our family, worked out pretty well :). But I'll always see her as she was the day we brought her home. My parents had schemed and told us we were visiting my grandparents for lunch (mmmm pasta). However, I was a bit older than my brothers and knew the drive to my grandparents' place quite well. I could tell we were either going some backwards way (as my parents suggested) or we weren't going. I then remember seeing a sign that read "Puppy Farm" and my eyes widened.

It was a big place with all these puppies roaming around in their own little areas. We were welcomed by the owner and my parents pretty much told us to pick one. My middle brother may have been a bit timid, and my youngest was either confused or didn't have much of an opinion, so I went looking around. I eventually walked over to an area of Sheltie-Poos (that was Ivy: half Sheltie, half poodle). There were three siblings, two dark haired and one white with little black spots; all hopping and barking, excited to see new people. Something about the white one, something in her eyes, the way she hopped, she was the one.

13 December 1997. First Day Home.

The drive home had her in my lap and my middle brother complaining that my parents had lied about having our grandmother's pasta for lunch (told you we were a family of eaters). The entire trip home was an attempt to come up with a name for our new puppy, but none seemed to fit.

We brought her into the house and introduced her to her new home. We were amused to find out that she was terrified of carpet and refused to walk on it, choosing to stay on the, then, linoleum kitchen floor. I remember sitting against the fridge with her in my lap as we tossed names back and forth. It was near Christmas, and she was white, so I thought Noel, which was quickly rejected; Holly, was vetoed by my father, as he had apparently known a "Holly" once; but what about Ivy? Is that you? Are you Ivy? We all liked it, it stuck. Our puppy was Ivy.

Wha?

There are plenty of tales to tell about her, she was an incredibly smart and curious dog, probably too smart. She did plenty of the normal dog things too. She loved to shred paper, she loved to chew socks, she loved to play fight and she loved to chase birds, squirrels and cats. But one of my favourite memories was of being exhausted and falling asleep on the couch in the basement (something that didn't happen very often). I felt my little fluff ball jump onto the couch, climb on my chest and fall asleep on top of me. I woke up and found her nestled in my arm and we fell asleep together. It's just one of those memories.

We laughed so hard. Sorry Pup.

But as I said, she was incredibly smart. There are a lot of stories I could tell: like when she tricked me into letting her outside so she could then run down the stairs and eat my cereal; the fact that she would hide treats in the backyard, go outside with nothing and come in with a Beggin' Strip; but the one day I will never forget is when we learned she could shell a peanut. My mother loves to feed the birds and squirrels (likely to the chagrin of our neighbours), and this means that a lot of whole peanuts end up on the lawn in the backyard. This gave Ivy ample opportunity to perfect the art of procuring more food. One day, I guess some peanuts had fallen on the floor in the house, and Ivy grabbed it between her teeth, cracked the shell, separated the pieces, and then used her tongue to pick out the peanuts. We couldn't believe it. You ridiculously smart dog. Anything for more food :), which she promptly received, as we coaxed her to perform her trick again and again.

And she smiled. I had a dog that smiled. Did she know she was smiling? Maybe, maybe not. The first time we ever saw it we thought she was baring her teeth in anger. She would curl her top lip, almost like a growl, but her tail was wagging as she did it, and she was noticeably excited (doing the front paw hop). Maybe it was the fact that when we saw it we laughed and were happy, and so she did it every time she got excited. And when she got excited, you couldn't help but smile too. She had that effect on everyone.

Still laughing :)

Even through all of her health problems, seizures when she was younger; arthritis, some eye thing, etc, she never stopped being happy. She could turn your mood around in a second. The past few weeks she had been doing much worse, she lost a lot of movement in her hind legs and had to drag herself to move and yet she still smiled and gave her happy bark. Last friday she became paralyzed in her hind legs, and when I came over to give her her special treat on Sunday, she scarfed it down (nearly lost a finger) and was visibly excited to see me. You could see it in her eyes. Despite the statistics we had been hopeful that she could recover. However, she started to take a turn for the worse on Tuesday. I stayed home from work yesterday in order to take care of her at my parent's place while everyone else was gone.

They say that when your pet is ready to go they will let you know, you will know, somehow. When I went to say hello yesterday morning and I looked into her eyes, her little spark was gone. She didn't seem to be in pain, but I could tell that she was ready, though I didn't know how quickly things would progress.

This past Christmas

Ivy started to have tremors, perhaps seizures, consistently throughout the day. Her breathing would pick up and her front paws would shake uncontrollably. I prepared myself with the thought that within the next few days we would have to let her go, we couldn't let her suffer. When my brothers came home, it got worse, the tremors didn't stop. We discussed it with my mother and father, and decided that the sooner we could have a vet come to the house the better it was for Ivy.

We found a wonderfully nice vet who was willing to come over just after 8:30PM so my mother would have a chance to come home from work. We all huddled around Ivy and said our goodbyes. The tremors still hadn't stopped. The vet made his way up the stairs to give her the first injection, and as he knelt down and began to explain what it would do, Ivy went still. She had stopped breathing. The vet gave her the first injection anyway, but it didn't matter, her heart had already stopped.

I've always joked that Ivy was the big boss at home. My mom ran the household, and Ivy ran my mom; and this was no different, she decided when it was time. Though I also like to think that she didn't want us to feel that we had given up on her. She waited until the last possible second, when we were all with her (the first time in a while) to finally let go. She didn't make us do it. She didn't leave us with any doubts.

Love you.

As any pet owner would agree, Ivy was part of our family. She gave us love unconditionally, made us happy with just a look and we loved her dearly.

She will always be remembered and forever missed.

We, I, love you Ivy.

Sleep well.

~Adam

10 comments:

  1. What a beautiful tribute to Ivy's spirit! The pictures of her are priceless, especially with the pink dog costume! It's amazing how animals 'train' us, and how good-humored they are and tolerant of our foibles, and also of whatever suffering they have to endure.

    I am so sorry for your loss, Adam. She sounds like a truly remarkable personality. Thank you for sharing so much about her.

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  2. *tear* What a testament to the joy Ivy brought to you and your family!

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  3. Thank you Adam. Love Mom

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  4. Adam, what an adorable dog and heart warming tribute. I am sad to hear about your loss. Sounds like she was a good friend and "sister". I had to say goodbye to my 18.5 year old cat a few years ago. She was suffering so it was not difficult to make the decision, but it was difficult to live with the loss. I hope you and your family are doing ok.

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  5. Tears, we will miss Ivy, she always came running to say hello. The first time I saw her I said why is she growling at me? worried. But was told it was a smile :) the first time I ever saw a dog smile. She was a joy and loved dearly by the extended family to. Never saw a dog shell peanut the way she did like there was nothing to it at all.
    Love you Ivy you gave my family joy and love also we'll never forget you.
    Auntie Lori & family xo

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  6. Thanks everyone, last week was rough, and knowing that people were reading this somehow made me feel a bit better. She really was special, and I wanted people to know.

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  7. Adam, what a wonderful tribute to Ivy. I'm glad you all were with her at the end. These things are never easy, but she knew she was loved. I'll be thinking of you today. Blessings...Mary

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  8. I'm late to see this. Great post, losing a dog is really losing a member of the family. Ivy obviously lived a great life.

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