The Crow's Thirteenth Birthday
I was waiting for my new male dog to be born. First pup - a female. Second pup - a female, quite small, very black. Third pup - a female. Fourth pup - a female. So far, an easy delivery, all four black and tan, three very similar, one smaller and darker, all girls. "Ok, maybe Otter's not done. I'll go to bed," I said, "let Otter rest, but call me when my little boy is born, please."
Taken in December, 2010, Crow looks good for an old girl.
First thing the next morning, the phone rang, and before Suzanne could speak, I said, "All girls, right? That's ok. I can live with a baby girl. I think the little dark one is my Crow." Until that moment, I hadn't considered a girl, and I hadn't really thought of naming a dog Crow.
Nine days later, we arrived at the farm to meet my little girl for the first time. The minute I put my hands on her, I knew I had my dog. It was a "never look back" moment. She's been the most challenging companion I've ever had. There were times when I didn't think I"d survive her activity level, and there were certainly times when I knew for sure I wouldn't survive her intelligence. I often wondered if I was good enough to clear the bar she set. But I have never for a second doubted that we belonged together. She's stretched me, and taught me more than any other dog ever has. She's always known exactly who I am and, seeing all my warts, has always fully accepted me and and been tolerant of my flaws. She's led me to compromises and shown me that there's always a way to see things from the other side. Together, always together, we worked things out. She was my second husband's first puppy, and she taught him everything he could learn about raising a dog. She loved her "dad." And when he and I split up, she missed him keenly, but let me know that she was mine and I was hers, and if we missed him at all, we'd do it together, as we did everything else. She is my best friend, and my right arm, and my mirror, my critic and my biggest fan.
She's 13 now, and though still doing very well (better, in fact, than she was doing last year) she is clearly my little old lady dog now. Sometimes she sleeps so soundly, I have to put my hands on her to wake her. Though I can feel her heart beating and I can feel her breathing and know she's all right, the depth of her sleep grants me an unwelcome glimpse into some of the things that lay ahead for us as we travel the final years of her time here together. Then she wakes, and blinks, and sees the concern on my face, and looks at me like "What's the matter with you? What do you want? I was just sleeping!" And I tell her, "You're 13 now, and in all the years I've shared with dogs, of the German Shepherds, only Annie lived longer than you have, and then only by a couple of years, and you just don't understand. I want you with me for another 100 years. Or until one minute after I die. Whichever comes first."
And Crow stretches and yawns and says, "It is what it is, and we have what we have, and today is today. Now open the door."