November 23, 2004

Oh, Diva.

George always tells people I stole her. He says, "She saw that puppy in someone's yard that day and she just took her. She stole that dog. Some little boy is still crying, 'mommy, my puppy's gone!'"

It wasn't like that. Two blocks from the Rochester public market, where quite a few dogs roam free looking for scraps from the open air market, I saw the most adorable fuzzy tiny puppy out in the rain, drenched, the cold Rochester spring rain pounding the sidewalk, this poor little dog in obvious intestinal distress.

I got out of my car, picked her up, oh dear, oh my, she was so sweet, so I naturally walked the neighborhood, up and down both sides of the street, "Hello? Is this anyone's puppy?" I came upon one man who lived on the street, but he said he'd never seen the puppy.


I tried to leave her on the sidewalk and go on my way. I got back in my car. We didn't need a puppy.

But she stayed so close to my car that I couldn't see her and didn't dare pull away from the curb for fear of running her over.

Oh hell.

Now what?

I got out and took her.

I took that sweet puppy right away from that lonely street and directly to our vet, who said she was just 7 or 8 weeks old, and from her paws and state of health, she'd most likely been living outside on the streets. He said that I'd done a good deed. Of course, he knew me. What else was he going to say?

For all his blustering about my criminal intent, George fell in love with her when he came back from Boston and saw her face, this little black-and-brown-fuzzball-shepherd-mix-good-old-fashioned-big-hearted mutt.

We named her Diva. She was a sweet and dainty doll.

Diva has seen us through so many changes; she watched me go through my late 20s, 30s, and early 40s. That's a long road to travel together.

Two weeks ago we took Diva to the vet to get her skin, hearing and general health checked. The vet assured us that given her age, she was hanging in there pretty well. We got some medicine for her skin problems--Diva, the queen of hot spots. He advised us to let her keep on going, since she was happy and not in any serious pain. We were prepared to say goodbye that day. But we took his advice and brought her home. She did well on the medicine and her skin cleared up.

Last night Diva didn't come in for dinner. This wasn't so unusual for her the last few months. More than once I had to hunt her down outside. I'd walk up to her, see her curled up on an old dog bed we have out back. I'd suck in my breath, thinking, "Oh no, she's dead." And I'd say, "Diva? DIVA?" Her head would pop up and she'd look at me over her shoulder as if to say, "Oh you! Is it time to eat already?"

She'd gone mostly deaf, and it usually took me slapping the house or going down the back steps to get her attention to come on up the deck for supper.

This morning George went out to get her. Her dinner from last night was still waiting. I heard him put on his boots and go out the door to find her.

He found her under our bedroom window.

She was curled up under the big overhang--her favorite cool and dry place in the yard.

This time when he called her name, she didn't look up over her shoulder. She didn't raise her ears or wag her tail.

Her soft nose was tucked into her paws, her eyes closed, just as she napped nearly every day for just shy of 14 years.

From what we can tell, she took her last breath sometime early this morning.

Sweet Diva.

Our good good girl.

I'm sorry I wasn't with you last night, or there to pat your head this morning.

But I am glad that I stole you when you were a pup. And I'm honored to have had you by my side for all of these years.

goodbye, girl.