A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17 (NKJV)
Ten years and a few months ago, husband and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary with a trip to the North Georgia foothills. That was our first trip away alone together since the birth of our first child fifteen years before. Throughout the week, I kept my eyes out for just the right souvenir. The year we were married, husband bought me our first Doberman puppy. Through the two decades that followed, we always had a Doberman and just before that anniversary, one of our dogs died. I thought it would be cool to buy a Doberman puppy to commemorate our anniversary trip and watched for signs and read local newspapers while we were away in hopes of finding one. It wasn’t until we were on our way home that I spotted an ad for Doberman puppies in the Ocala Star Banner. Husband figured out what I was up to and consented to make a detour to see the litter. We agreed we wanted a female and husband had his eye on a red girl, but I spotted a bigger black female that looked promising. “No, I don’t want a black Doberman,” husband replied, as we had always had red Dobies. “But, look, at how beautiful she is. She’s going to be a big girl,” I replied. And after I did some rudimentary temperament testing on her, husband changed his mind. We brought her home and named her Skyway’s Souvenir Skylark. Sky, or Big Girl, as we affectionately called her, breezed through obedience school. With a sweet, steady temperament, she would have made a great search and rescue or agility dog, but we were in the midst of raising two teenagers with no time for additional training. Maybe because of the time in our lives she was raised, she was never pushy about attention, always willing to take whatever we gave her. She was content just to be with us following wherever we were. A few months ago, just after her tenth birthday, she started losing weight. She had developed a wider girth than was healthy so the weight loss was welcome until she became too thin. A visit to the vet for an exam and two trips for blood work revealed no cause for alarm. But, because she had developed a dry cough, we thought it best to have a dog sitter come and stay at our house last week to keep an eye on her. Things seemed alright until yesterday when she went outside to chase squirrels, but couldn’t make it back to the house she was so out of breath. We helped her inside and through the night her breathing remained labored. This morning, she couldn’t get up, so I took her to the vet. X-rays revealed her chest was full of tumors. The vet estimated she had only a few more days to live and they would not be comfortable ones so we made the hard decision to have her put to sleep. Our hearts are empty tonight. Though we are taking care to give our other Doberman, Lucy, or Little Girl, extra scratches and attention, we miss our Big Girl. Good-bye, Sky. Thanks for loving us all the time.