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Goodbye Old Girl

I don't like maudlin descriptions of somebody's dog's last days, because it might discourage would-be dog owners from adopting a dog. Besides, a melodrama about the human is not the point. I put Coffee Girl 'down' this morning, at age 15.5 years. She did not suffer. And her old age did not cost me much money.

In a high meadow in New Mexico a few years ago.

.What could a newbie dog owner learn from her marvelous career?

1. Don't be afraid of animal shelters.

2. Don't take 'dog breed' books literally. They will tell you that a herding dog needs 10 hours per day of chasing cows or sheep or it will come back into your house and chew the sofa into a million pieces. They will make you think a herding dog can't be a good household pet.

3. Herding dogs can have exemplary behavior off-lease. This adds a lot to the owner's and the dog's pleasure.

4. When adopting a dog, tune yourself out, especially your eyeballs. Choose a dog for their behavior, not their appearance. Study the volunteers or employees at the animal shelter: which dog have they fallen for?

5. Don't be afraid of veterinarians because of some of the high prices you've heard about. Go to vets in impoverished rural areas, not in cities. In particular, large soft fatty lipomas under the skin look scary, but a rural vet can remove these tumors for a couple hundred dollars.

6. Barking problems, perhaps connected to separation anxiety, are treatable with modern ($50) collars.

I hope this encourages a would-be adopter to have one of the best experiences that life has to offer.

There is a nice piece of music that captures the experience of losing a Coffee Girl. 


Anonymous said…
I'm sorry to hear about your wonderful, sweet Coffee Girl. We have had to make that decision 6 times, and it's so very hard every time. What a wonderful, long life your girl had! All your adventures she got to have! I'm so glad you have your new pup to ease the heartache a bit.

Renee (Aztec, NM)
Ed said…
"1. Don't be afraid of animal shelters."

I second that first bit of advice. I now have two dogs that came from Sierra Vista Animal Control. I got the first one about 10.5 years ago and the second one last December.

In both cases I made a mistake and selected the dogs more by appearance than behavior. But how much behavior are you going to see in a 30 minute visit?

There are also RV Parks that discriminate by breed (or what looks like a breed) which is all about appearance not behavior. So I got a Staffy (Pit Bull) that is on the discrimination list as being an aggressive dog but has NEVER displayed any aggressive behavior - reactive behavior yes.

I would treat "Study the volunteers or employees at the animal shelter: which dog have they fallen for?" with a grain of salt. Find someone at the shelter that has experience with the same breed that you are looking to adopt may be more beneficial. I got some very good advice from the officer in charge of Benson Animal Control because she had some Cattle dogs.

Sorry that Coffee Girl is gone but she had a good life with you!

Al Bossence said…
I remember meeting Coffee Girl in Ajo Arizona years ago. I remember her and Pheebs playing together. Reading this tonight I felt sad. Having been there several times I understand how you feel. Treasure the memories.
Suzanne said…
I am so very sorry to hear this news. Coffee Girl was a faithful, beautiful friend. You gave her many great adventures, and in return, she gave you unconditional companionship. I only met her once, but she left a lasting impression. I am sorry for your loss.
Kelly said…
Coffee Girl was a special companion all these years.
She had a life few other dogs will ever have.
All, thanks for the kind and well-thought-out words. I suppose it gets easier to put a dog down when it isn't the first time. In my case, it was the second time.

This time it was easier because I decided to err slightly on the side of "too soon". With my first dog, I erred slightly on the side of "too late."
Luci & Loree said…
So very sorry for your loss... Dogs really make the heart full...
Jim and Gayle said…
Hated to read this in spite of knowing it was coming. Coffee Girl was such a sweetheart and you must miss her terribly. We have fond memories of watching her run around like a crazy dog during our hikes with you. It's admirable that you erred on the "too soon" side this time. Timing is the hardest part.
Thank you Luci & Loree.

Gayle, I still have the photo of Coffee Girl looking up at Debbie's crazy little dog "from outer space" (Ruppert?) as he made everybody think he was going to slide off the edge of the arroyo.
Sorry for the loss of your friend. The biggest problem new dog owners have is getting a dog without spending much time with them. Friends stay together.
Be Safe and Enjoy!

It's about time.
Thank you, Rick and Kathy.