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Ceredwyn

Girlfriend the Wonder Dog

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I've been lurking around here for a bit and talking to a couple of folks off board, but this is my first post. Thanks so much for letting me share.

 

We never set out to have a BC; I'd always loved them, but didn't think we could do one justice, living at the edge of town, having no stock and not much land. But in the end, the choice wasn't ours to make.

 

She came to us in December 1996, a three-month-old fuzzball with strangely knowing eyes and and a house full of attitude. I first saw her strutting along in the midst of a pack of neighborhood dogs, looking as though she were queen of the world. When the pack moved on, she stayed to play with one of our six-month-old coonhounds. He was awestruck: Here's my house, here's my food, here are my toys, just STAY with me. And eventually, when her the neighbor who had her decided she was too much trouble and threatened to send her to the pound, she did come to stay. By then, we were already calling her "Bubba's Girlfriend."

 

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We had no idea what kind of dog she was -- the neighbor had several versions of how she'd come by her, and none of them ever quite rang true. But it was obvious she was almost supernaturally intelligent and had so much energy and mischief that we often called her Devil Dog. It wasn't until the next summer, when she started rounding up my father-in-law's cows that we realized she had to be at least part BC. She had it all, the crouch, the eye, the ability to put a herd of cows in a circle, even at that tender age. And it was all natural; we wouldn't have had a clue how to teach her anything like that.

 

My husband took her hunting with the hound boys, and once she realized what the object was, and that the hounds got praise for treeing, she started treeing coons. At a local (informal) water race event, she put on a show some of the houndsmen around here still laugh about. In a water race a caged racoon is pulled across a very large pond on a raft, landed on the other side and allowed to go up a tree. The first dog who swims across the pond and trees the coon is the winner. Well, they set a pack of hounds loose, and suddenly, there was Girlfriend amidst them. She was a heck of a swimmer, and she was soon out in front. Every time one of the hounds caught up with her, she headed them off to the side. Sure enough, she landed way ahead of anyone else AND treed her coon. There were a lot of "proud" coonhound owners that day.

 

She minded my book store with me for a few years. And when I did transcription, she helped out quite a bit.

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Later, when I went to work at a nursing home, she found a new vocation, visiting the residents every day. I may have been the activities woman, and I may have been bringing home the paycheck, but there was never any question about who was more important. I was just the person who brought Girlfriend. I watched her bring joy into sad, lonely lives; Girlfriend had enough love to go around, and always knew when a lick, or a nudge, or just quiet companionship was called for.

 

One day when we were at the hospital visiting one of her nursing home buddies, a woman came running up and said, "Oh, my God, where did you get that dog?!?" I told her we'd had her for ten years, but really didn''t know anything about her history -- just that one of our neighbors had gotten her and didn't want to keep her. I told her where we lived, and her eyes just lit up; Girlfriend was the living image of her favorite BC female, who had died years before. It turned out the lady had sold a puppy into our town years before, but the old man who had her had died, and she hadn't been able to find the pup. We compared places and dates, and realized that Girlfriend almost had to have been that pup. Our neighbor had been the owner's private duty nurse. We'd known for years that Girlfriend was at least part BC, but found out then that her mom had been a good working dog.

 

Even though she was "my dog", she was my husband's best friend, and she worshipped him. She came to me when it thundered, but when it was time for fun, it was time to go with Daddy. He took her everywhere with him and talked about her and bragged on her until people teased him. But he never minded. She was his little girl.

 

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One day a couple of years ago, I was watching them together and my heart broke a little. Girlfriend wasn't prancing around and running rings around him any more, she was just santying along, slowly and deliberately, with a little bit of a hitch in her gait. She'd still chase, still herd anything available, still swim, but she wasn't the playing machine she had been; she was starting to get old.

 

A starved out Rottwieler/shepherd/hound pup showed up under our porch when Girlfriend was eight, and he grew up to be her devoted slave. She went from just tolerating him to virtually adopting him, sending him out to fetch rabbits for her after her arthritis got bad. He was so obviously willing to obey her every command that we called them "the evil empress and her minion", and soon he was part of the family, too. And Girlfriend could never really settle down for the night unless we were all together. We were, after all, her herd.

 

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I'd said for years that I 'hated to see her get old, but hated worse to not see her get old." but I didn't know how true it was. We noticed she was urinating a lot more often and took her to the vet for what we all thought was a bladder infection. But she just got worse over the next few days. An x-ray showed that her bladder wasn't emptying. We took her to the university clinic for an ultrasound. There was a transitional cell carcinoma in her urethra, almost totally blocking her that short time. Things were about to get horrible for her and there was really nothing to be done that could have given her any quality of life. What a brutal illustration of the difference between a simple decision and an easy decision. For Gene and I, it was like being hit by a train. But that may have been the only way we could have let her go with any grace at all. Even though it was a terrible decision to have to make, we didn't have to agonize over it. There really just was no other choice. Maybe God knew a no-brainer was all we could handle right then.

 

She died like the great lady she was. The vets put us in a comfortable room and we lay on the floor with her. We held her to the end and brought her home to bury in one of her favorite spots. In 18 years of marriage, I'd never seen my husband cry before that day, but we just held each other and sobbed. I'll never forget what he said at her burial: "Here's our good dog, Lord. We know you'll enjoy her. She'll try your patience, but she'll amuse you, too. If you want help herding souls, she'll be a good one for you. She likes to keep her herd together."

 

Her herd sure misses her.

 

This picture was taken just a few days before she died. It's not a great picture, but when I look in her eyes, I see the truth... the sparkle was gone. She already knew she was going away, and she didn't know how to tell us.

 

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Girlfriend the Wonderdog, September 15, 1996 - October 8, 2007.

We'll always love you, Babe.

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I am so sorry for your loss. Girlfriend's life story brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. May she rest in peace.

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What a moving tribute to your beautiful girl. May she rest in peace and may you gain comfort from knowing that you gave her the greatest gift in all in allowing her to leave when it was her time to go.

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My sympathies on your family's loss - sounds like Girlfriend was truly treasured during her lifetime. Letting her go was the kindest most loving thing you could do for her. I hope (when your grief subsides and you are ready) that another border collie finds you.

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sounds like she was a wonderful dog. May you be blessed with another border collie when you are ready.

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I think that was lovely. Im so sorry to hear of your loss. But, you were right in your PM to me a few days ago. She does look like Riven! If Riven was a bit fatter they could nearly be twins.

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I think that was lovely. Im so sorry to hear of your loss. But, you were right in your PM to me a few days ago. She does look like Riven! If Riven was a bit fatter they could nearly be twins.

 

That's what I thought, too. Poor old Girlfriend was an easy, easy keeper. She was always on a diet the last couple of years.

 

Your girl is a real beauty!

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Thank you all for your kind words. I can't tell you all how much help coming here has been. You offered support and comfort and a chance to help another dog find a good life in my Girlfriend's name.

 

It's been a month today. It seems like forever and it seems like yesterday. She's always in my heart and, like the silly song says, my heart will go on. Thank you again.

 

Cheryl

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What a loving tribute to a wonderful girl...I had tears by the time I finished reading this......she was much loved by you two and whe was meant to be your special girl.....

 

"I am a rascal,

you know I am.

 

I look into your eyes

and see your soul

reflect in mine.

 

And know we are as one,

breathing together,

sighing together.

together in our hearts.

 

Cry not, for I am here,

feel my head on your knee,

my breath in your hair.

 

Reach out to me in your sleep

and I will cuddle in your arms.

I am here, fear not

waiting by your side"

 

 

~diane

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What a loving tribute to a wonderful girl...I had tears by the time I finished reading this......she was much loved by you two and whe was meant to be your special girl.....

 

"I am a rascal,

you know I am.

 

I look into your eyes

and see your soul

reflect in mine.

 

And know we are as one,

breathing together,

sighing together.

together in our hearts.

 

Cry not, for I am here,

feel my head on your knee,

my breath in your hair.

 

Reach out to me in your sleep

and I will cuddle in your arms.

I am here, fear not

waiting by your side"

 

 

~diane

 

What a beautiful poem. She was my rascal for sure, and something happened the other night when I was driving up to Iowa that really gave me the feeling she is still here looking after me.

 

It was late, way out in the country, deserted road. I hadn't even been thinking about Girlfriend, and all of a sudden I just missed her so overwhelmingly it was almost physical pain. I got to crying and had to slow down almost to a crawl. Just then, I rounded a curve... and the road was full of deer. If I hadn't had to slow down, it could have been rough. It was like she was still taking care of me. Mysterious ways, indeed; as you said, "I am here, fear not."

 

Thank you so much, Diane, and everyone else. People who've had that special dog relate on every level.

 

Cheryl

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It's been a year today, Sweetie. We all love you and miss you so much. The wisteria over your grave is going to sleep for the winter, but some pretty purple wildflowers have appeared now. And Little'un still goes there for an afternoon nap in the sun. Play well at the bridge, Babe.

 

Mom and Dad, Little'un and the coonhound boys... and Belle, the girlie whose life was saved in your name.

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My thoughts are with you today, Cheryl. I know it's a tough one.

 

Your Girlfriend was beautiful and obviously so special.

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What a sweet story and what a special dog!

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What a great life and a wonderful Girlfriend. Thank you for sharing it. I am sorry for your loss.

Toni

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Normally I would offer an appropriate poem for comfort. But your eulogy is so moving and eloquent that I not only could not improve upon it, but would diminish this magnificent tribute.

 

Via con Dios, Girlfriend.

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Thanks so much, you all. It was a hard day, but a sweet one, too.

 

We adopted Belle on October 31 last year to honor Girlfriend's name. She was a 9-year-old border collie trapped in a puppy mill most of her life. I don't think it was one of the nightmare places you saw on Oprah, but no dog should ever be kept as livestock. Watching her become a real dog and blossom into an outgoing, happy girl over the past year has been bittersweet -- she would never have come to us if we hadn't had to say goodbye to Girlfriend. I might never have come here, and it was the people on this board who led me to Belle. Because of Girlfriend, I became at least peripherally involved in rescue work. And every time I pull a dog, or transport one, or donate to save one, it's in her name. She's kept on giving, even though she's not here in the flesh any more.

 

And I really believe we'll all be together again one day -- that all of us will be united with our beloved heart dogs in the end.

 

Love and thanks to all of you!

 

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Girlfriend & Belle

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