Brenna died this morning. She was pretty close to exactly 15 years old.
Lea and I got Brenna as a puppy at the Humane Society in the fall of 1995. Best anyone could tell, she was a Lab/chow/shepherd mix. We really enjoyed her. She had such an appealing mix of clown and seriousness about her. She was playful, but never really goofy; protective, but never really aggressive. She was a marvelous companion dog.
She’d been having a rough go of it lately. She’d been blind since she was 8, but got really good at navigating by sound, to the point that if I didn’t tell you she couldn’t see, you might not realize it.
Her hips starting giving her trouble a couple of years ago. Her movement wasn’t badly hampered; she just had to go more slowly, you know? Then she slowed down a lot this year. She stopped running at all. The steps got tough for her, to the point that once she got up on or down from the deck she’d generally stay there for the day.
Dr. Patton told me at her last checkup that she couldn’t see and she was slow, but he couldn’t find anything else wrong with her. So we put her back on an anti-inflammatory that hadn’t seemed to help before, hoping to see improvement, and were planning to discuss quality-of-life issues at her next checkup.
(That’s such a tough question when a pet goes like this. You certainly don’t want to euthanize her because she’s inconvenient, but at the same time you don’t want her suffering needlessly, and dogs can’t speak English, you know?)
Instead she had her own timetable, sometime early this morning around dawn. It appeared to me that she went peacefully in her sleep. Godspeed, girl.
I do want to end with mine and Lea’s favorite Brenna story. At one of the last Christmases at our old house, she got an enormous basted rawhide bone. We gave it to her in the garage (where her bed and dishes were). She sized it up, proud of her new wealth, and went to take it to her spot in the yard:
Oops. She tried that a couple of times. Then, she shifted mental gears and said “ah, I’ll go outside, and then pull it back through”:
Lea and I were just howling at this point. She was so serious about solving this problem, and I swear she cocked her head at us laughing. “Pleased to amuse you. Are you going to help me solve this problem, or what?” We didn’t make her wait long. One of us oriented the bone for her to grab one end of it, and she pulled it through.
We miss you, Brenna. We’re sad you’re gone. We’re also happy, because we’re confident there is no blindness and arthritis in heaven.