Saturday, March 10, 2012

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart

I think it is allowed for me to break my Lenten hiatus from blogging today. This won't be short, I apologize ahead...but when it comes to trying to tell the tale of one very loved family pet, there aren't enough words. We said goodbye to our beloved 'Holden' this morning. She had her fifteenth birthday March 8...she was 15 human years. Holden, Holdie, Holdie Oldie, Holdie O...she had more names than I can remember but she answered to them all. Holden was my rock. She was the true 'family' pet. I always knew when the kids were coming to the door as she would announce their presence with whining, yowling...flat out fussing at me to let her out to greet her children! She had no favorites, she just loved everyone! Truly, dearly and always.
Holden was our black lab/english pointer mix female pup. I remember the day we surprised the kids with her. We had said goodbye to our sweet little Peek-a-Poo, Clementine about six months prior. We grieved Clemmies loss, but it was time for the family to have another fur ball ruling the roost. We went to the Flea Market, this was back when you could still purchase puppies there. We were 'only going to look'. Right, everyone's famous last words when looking at puppies. Of course she 'found' us right away, selected us from all the other people roaming the Flea Market. We watched as she got her second round of puppy shots and then roamed the aisles in search of just the right collar for the newest family member.

We hadn't told any of the children where and what we were doing. It was a drizzly day and since 'we were just looking' we kept silent. I hid Holden, still unnamed at that point inside my shirt and walked in. I think it was maybe two seconds before the two youngest realized what was going on and started letting out shrieks of 'Let Me See, Let Meeee See'! We gathered all five of the kids to introduce the new puppy to the wild and wooly gang she would be joining. Everyone was allowed to put their suggestion in as to her name. Five names...nah make it seven, Steve and I had our own ideas as well. Seven rejections no one could agree on the right one. Finally I said think of something we all love and we can use that as a name. Almost as one voice they said we LOVE Holden Beach. That is where we take our summer vacations. I said well we could call her 'Holden' for our favorite place to vacation. It played well with the entire family and thus our female dog was tagged with what some thought of as a masculine name.

Years came and went. Holden was a sweet puppy, but had her moments of puppiness. We returned from the first vacation when she was really young to half the linoleum tile floor being chewed up. The vet had said she was too young to be boarded and recommended we get a neighbor to puppy sit her at home. Evidently Holden missed us more than the floor. I felt terrible for the neighbor's son that was puppy sitting. He felt so bad, but we knew it was just Holden being Holden. We replaced that floor with ceramic tile and it has remained intact all these years!

Holden was all the boys pal when they wanted to go run. She loved to run when she was young. She also loved to ride in the car. If I would have a hard time getting her back in the house, I'd go out and start the car with the passenger door open. Whump...up she'd jump ready for a ride! Of course wanting to keep her happy with that little trick, I'd usually oblige and we'd take a quick tour of the neighborhood. 

As for Elise, she was her protector and NO ONE got in between Holdie and Elise. All I'd have to say is, 'Watch the kids Holdie' and she knew she was on duty. Elise grew up with Holdie as her protector and as much of life goes...roles reversed and she was always protecting and loving Holdie in return.

As the kids grew and started life on their own their natural inclination was to have dogs of their own. Holden helped raise them all. Buffy was the first pup she helped raise.Buffy is our oldest son and DIL's dog, a black cocker spaniel. Her name has nothing to do with the color of her fur. They were working with a young girl who was competing in the Special Olympics as a swimmer and it was her favorite tv character...Buffy the Vampire slayer. Buffy's home was struck by lightning when she was young. As a result she was terribly sensitive to thunder storms. No one blamed her but we hoped if she was around stable Holden when storms were around she'd be able to calm back down. Sadly all that happened was Holden started getting antsy when the weather was less than sunny. Go figure, right? She and Buff were always great friends. We often boarded them together to make them happier when boarding was required.

Jackson was Holden's next pup she helped raise. Jackson lived here as a pup until right before son #2 married and moved into their own home. Jackson is a chocolate lab and like Holdie as a puppy a real chewer. I think it is the lab in them. We ended up asking our son to do something to protect the kitchen furniture as we could see we'd end up with a coffee table instead of a kitchen table. After he wrapped the  table legs with PVC piping we looked like we planned on taking the table to the Kentucky Derby. Holdie kept Jackson calm and from jumping the gate in the kitchen. Another pup off to a good start as the family pup under Holden's great example.
The next two boys each brought their own pups to the great Holden for tutelage. Brinny is a Shetland Sheepdog...a Sheltie.  I'm not sure if Holden ever figured out why Brin was always wanting to 'herd' her but she went along with it for peace in the family! Zeus and Zooey are the two pugs of the family. I think they knew by the time they came along Holden was the grand dame and never gave her any grief. They have energy off the scale but they knew Holden ruled the roost! Christmas at our house was often as well represented by the pups in the family as the children!
And then there is Beignet. She was supposed to be another of my dogs. Elise came with us to pick out the golden lab/golden retriever mix puppy. She selected and named her and by the time she was ready to move into her own place it was well known Beignet was indeed Elise's pup. Holden was her fur Mom, though. When we brought her home and placed her in the box the first night Holden slept right next to the box and every time Beignet whimpered Holdie was up nosing and licking her back to sleep! Beignet really truly grew up with Holden as her Mom. Holden would give Beignet her kennel...even though Beignet had one of her own...and sleep out on the floor in front of the kennel protecting the dog that grew to be bigger than Holden. Eventually we had to keep them separated. Holden as she aged was diminishing in her rear quarters and Beignet could have fractured unintentionally for sure Holdie's pelvis. The vet recommended we keep them apart. They never lost the love for one another. Last week Beignet was over visiting and I think she knew how fragile Holdie had become, she just carefully walked up to her and gave her another kiss like in the photo below.
 Another thing Holden loved to do when she was younger was retrieve golf balls. Our beloved nephew Sam would hit them over the fence to her. Sam left us six years ago, way to early. I'm hoping he's hitting golf balls to her now. 

Holden always put up with my dressing her up for holidays. She put up with everything.
Lately, as Holdie was starting to slow down my husband and Holden spent weekends in the yard. Holden would do her sniffing in the garden and then just come and rest her weary head in his lap, for some petting and loving. They were companions and comfort for one another after the children left home.
Yesterday I knew the end was at hand. Holdie wasn't able to stand on her own. I had to pick her up and steady her and eventually she just couldn't even stand. All through the night Steve would pick her up and carry her down the stairs and help her stand to relieve herself. This morning she was rejecting all food and starting to bleed. We knew she had fought as long as she could to be our protector and it was now time to protect and love her enough to let her go with comfort and love. Not an easy decision and definitely not without heartache and tears. I told my husband it seems all we do anymore is say goodbye to those we love.
Elise came over for one sweet last goodbye...breaking my heart all over again. Our son Tim came and helped my husband bring her to the vet for her last sleep. I stayed home with Lily, as Lily's Mom is out of town. Holden was beyond being able to walk so one carried and held her in the car while the other drove. They both held her and loved her until she was gone...

So yes, today another piece a huge piece of my heart is gone. Watch over the kids, Holdie....
Miss you, love you forever...