Our Golden Girl

At 11:20 yesterday morning, I was sitting with our dog, Abbie, knowing that the vet was going to come to our house at 4:30 that afternoon to put her to sleep after weeks of struggling with lymphoma. My mom and I had both stayed home with her that morning, and after a couple hours of sitting beside her and doing crosswords, I heard an odd little noise. Looking at her, we just knew it was time. We sat beside her, petting her gently–and within about a half a minute, her breathing changed, her little golden body shook slightly for a few seconds, and she was gone.

The differences between perceived reality and physical reality had never been so shocking. Looking at her, you’d think she was about to get up and give us that big, goofy smile of hers. But within ten minutes, she was cold, and later, stiff. The sight I recognized as the dog I have known and loved for 12 years was right before my eyes, but there was nothing beyond that sight to actually manifest my dog–the animating force that made her the friend I loved was no longer there. I’d never even seen a dead body, let alone an actual death. Nothing was ever so strange or powerful.

That night, Mom, Dad, Boyfriend and I went out to dinner to celebrate the life of Abbie. Loved by all, she was a remarkable creature, and I can’t think of anything better to do now than celebrate what a lovely little doggie life she lived.

Therefore: the tribute post.

After all, she was born to be a star.

This is a video I took on my phone of coming home to Abbie in March of 2010, and is the greeting we received every darn day!

Right up until the very end, Abbie never had a bad day.

She was a remarkably obedient dog, and never defied us… except just once, when we came back into the room to find her whole face in a bowl of hummus.

People sometimes talk about dogs “watching TV,” but I doubt any dog has ever been as into a TV show as Abbie was when it came to “Meerkat Manor.” It’s what I can only describe as an animal reality show, and Abbie would sit front and center in front of the TV and watch whole episodes, raptly staring at the screen and perking up whenever they made their little meerkat noises.

She had a penchant for sneaking into photos.

Though unfailingly enthusiastic and charmingly klutzy, Abbie defied the dumb-dog stereotype by intuiting exactly what we needed with astonishing sensitivity. Once, she even managed to crack my mom’s neck on a terribly stressful day with a simple affectionate nuzzle.

As a very pretty dog, Abbie attracted attention wherever she went. She also panted and grinned her way through numerous little-kid ear-tugs and tail-pulls without so much as a flinch.

Her breath wasn’t even that bad.

She had a favorite toy, which we affectionately dubbed “The Flingball.” It was designed to be shot slingshot-style over long distances. Well, in our house, the Flingball actually ended up being held by the elastic in Abbie’s mouth, and forcefully shook back and forth so it hit her in the face repeatedly of her own free will.

We affectionately dubbed this process “bapping.”

On Christmas every year was “The Festival of the Flingballs.” Since they stopped carrying Flingballs in Bozeman, we had to order them online in bulk. When they arrived, we would save the package until Christmas morning, and then dump them all out at once in front of her. Panicked, she would back away slightly in sheer awe–and then, suddenly, she’d dart in and choose one Flingball for the new year. We’d pack up the rest and save them until she bapped the first one into oblivion.

She lived large.

Really large.

And we loved her in a big enough way to match.

May we all live as joyful a life as our dear sweet Abbie did. Carpe Flingball, Abbie. I hope there are hot dogs and bunnies wherever you are.

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About wrap me in phyllo dough

travel addict. greece-obsessed. grad student. bottomless pit.
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21 Responses to Our Golden Girl

  1. I’m sorry to hear about Abbie, but I’m glad that she lived such a full life and brought so much joy to yours.

  2. AJ says:

    I’m sorry for you and your family. It is never easy to lose the friend in your life that has been nothing but present, each and every day. But there is a dog heaven, and Abbie is there- eating peanut butter biscuits and playing with her Frisbee (and Flingballs!)

  3. What a wonderful tribute to Abbie. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Sugarenia says:

    As a fairly recent pet owner (I just got my first cat about a year ago), I always wondered about a pet’s passing. If my cat disappears (as cats often do) or falls ill and dies, I’d be devastated, but I’d like to counter this by adopting another kitten soon.

    Do you think that you, as a family, will adopt another dog now?

    P.S. And of course, sorry to hear about Abbie’s passing. She’s surely in doggie heaven now.

    • I think we will, eventually. We got our first dog, Dusty, when I was seven, and Abbie four years later, so this is the first time in sixteen years that we’ve been dogless. At this point we are such a dog family that I can’t imagine we will stay that way forever. It will take some time, but we’ll get there. My Mom was the fundraiser at our local shelter for a couple years, so I know our next pet will be a shelter dog, and I look forward to welcoming it into our family when the time comes!

  5. Robert Uek says:

    Kate:
    Sorry to read about the passing of your faithful and beloved dog, Abbie.

    Another passing of note this week was that of Michael Cacoyannis, who was the film Director of the Emmy-Award winning film “Zorba the Greek”. I know from your blog that you are a great admirer of Nikos Kazantakis, the author of the Zorba book. Mr. Cacoyannis died in Athens on Monday.

    Thought you may not have caught up with this news. I met you briefly at the Farm School in Thessaloniki in June at a wonderful backyard Greek buffet at the Dean’s home on campus. Enjoy your blog and look forward to future editions.

    • Hello Mr. Uek! So nice to hear from you. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the blog, and thanks for this update. I hadn’t heard yet, and as my father and I are both huge fans of the book and the movie, he’ll be sad to hear the news as well. We’ve been planning on making a big Greek dinner and watching the movie sometime soon, so we’ll have to keep Mr. Kakoyiannis in our thoughts as we do. Take care and stay in touch!

  6. doranyc says:

    I’m so sorry. We’ve lost two of our own Goldens to cancer, and a foster Golden, as well, who died after finally finding a forever home. You have my deepest sympathies and I’m glad you had her for 12 years, that’s really wonderful. I’m hoping my mom will get to have Walker for that long. *knock wood*

    (((((HUGS)))))

    • Our vet said that these days, when old dogs go, it’s usually because of cancer. I’m happy to hear you’re providing a good home to so many Goldens though! They’re such great dogs. Long live Walker! 🙂

  7. David Glidden says:

    Sorry about Abbie. We had to euthanize our Golden Ginger about a month ago. She had lymphoma at only eight years. I miss our morning walks together terribly and being in the swimming pool with her. Only a good dog can give such total loyalty. It’s a gift of grace.

    • Oh no! Ginger was such a little sweetie. I’m so sorry for you, Susan and the girls. On the other hand, how lucky are we to have had such wonderful goldens in our lives? Here’s to Abbie and Ginger!

  8. Susan Carpenter says:

    Hi Kate, Anna and I got word of Abbie’s death today as we were traveling across Ohio (visiting colleges). My heart goes out to the Peterson household where there will be a marked absence. As David mentioned above we lost Ginger to lymphoma about two weeks ago. Abbie and Ginger were remarkable creatures who graced our lives with their steadfast enthusiasm and total loyalty. Let’s hope they are having as much fun on the other side as they did here. Best, Susan

    • Well said, Susan! And thanks for your thoughts. We’re thinking about you guys too without your dear Ginger. Good luck with the college search! How exciting!! Can’t wait to hear all about it at Thanksgiving! 🙂

  9. Losing a pet is so very hard — they are such a big part of our families. What a beautiful tribute to sweet Abbie. It’s clear how special she was by how beautifully you write about her. I too have a Golden named Harry who would go bonkers over a Flingball. He’s a tennis ball addict, and sometimes I bring a huge bag of “dead” tennis balls home from the club and dump them all out at once for Harry — I think Abbie would approve! Hope she’s chasing balls and romping in dogggie heaven with all the sweet dogs who’ve gone before her. xo to you and your family

    • Haha!! I love it! There’s something so satisfying about watching a dog be totally overwhelmed with sheer joy like that. Go Harry go! 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts. It’s so nice to hear from other pet owners.

  10. Art Spiffy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Abbie’s passing. This tribute to her is beautiful. We’ve had our little schnauzer for 9 years so I understand the place they hold in our hearts.

  11. Pingback: The Wrap Me in Phyllo Dough 100th Post Spectacular! | wrap me in phyllo dough

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