Lilly Belle

January 24, 1994-November 13, 2008

We did today what we had to do to relieve the most faithful member of the family of her suffering. She was declining when we took the photo above in spring 05, but she’s gone down so much since then: totally deaf, growing blind, suffering chronic coughing seizures, her aged joints misshapen and her hide breaking out with tumors, the tumors on her underside occasionally erupting like blood blisters. So we know she’s better off now.

Now we have to do what we have to do: spend a day or two remembering and mourning the loss of a marvelously fine dog, probably the best dog we’ll ever have if we measure best by behavior, affection, and obedience. She never was a digger, she never was a chewer, she never was destructive, she never was a run-away, she never was an all-night barker (except for one pre-dawn episode when she was no more than a year old when she cornered a crawfish in the backyard with its pincers waving defiantly at her nose as she barked so hysterically that we figured she had cornered a burglar). And bless her little heart, she was playful, kind, and obedient. We never had to worry about her with kids or strangers, either. (Although she was bloodthirsty for garter snakes, rodents, and unwary birds!)

Her prime occurred during those years before we got digital cameras and camera phones, so we don’t have nearly as many photos of her as the knuckle-heads (Sadie and Marely) who keep showing up in this blog from time to time. Thinking back on all the press those two have gotten, I realize just how secluded and withdrawn Lilly Belle has grown for the past couple of years. She has wanted no fellowship with the other dogs, hiding in a corner of the yard, living in her own little silent world.

Sarah’s convinced we’ll meet Lilly Belle in heaven. I can’t argue with that. If heaven’s as great as God promises, I have to imagine that puppy dogs will be there, too. So Lilly Belle, here’s a verse I wrote many years ago, and tonight, it’s for you:

Till We Meet Again
(February 1995)

So you must go, and I must stay.
Tis true that life must be that way.
But as you part, please grant me this–
Leave to linger a playful “ruff,”
just for me,
To dance within my lonesome memory
Till morrow’s meeting all pain erase,
When I behold you face to face.