The Outer Frail

Lily was fifteen years old when she came to Colorado from Southern California in mid-September, 2014, in a Dodge minivan with her person — the captain — and her two sidekicks, Dusty and Mindy. It was a journey fraught with dangers — like the time when, all by herself, she got out of the mini-van at the rest-stop on the Planet Mars (El Centro). Fortunately the captain of the minivan saw her and jumped out to rescue her from the two friendly but bewildered Martians who were looking at her in puzzlement; “How did a Siberian husky arrive on Mars, alone?”

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Lily on Mars (El Centro rest stop), this time with life support

Lily was blind and nearly deaf. Her hips were tired from a lifetime of hikes and hunts. But when she got to Colorado, she found her power-place. Outside the small cabin in South Fork, Lily’s first Colorado home, there was a field with a trail beside the river. Never in her life had Lily experienced such wonderful smells or the coolness of the evening breeze. She woke up the minivan captain every morning at first light to go out and hunt. Some nights Lily smelled bear and coyote on the wind as she licked it with her tongue.

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Lily of the Field

After a while, the captain packed everything and they went to their house in a small town. The yard was covered with soft green grass, which felt so much better to Lily than had the hot dirt and foxtails at their old place in California.

Lily spent as much time as she could outside, especially at night, because it was cold and clear. If she’d been able to see, and had the inclination to look up (but being a Siberian husky it wasn’t very likely) she would have seen more stars than she’d seen in her whole life. She liked being part of a pack and Dusty and Mindy were good and loyal pack mates. Then she met another dog named Shoe when the captain’s friend, L, came to visit. Shoe instantly recognized Lily’s advanced age, her frailness and her heroic nature. Lily and Shoe exchanged stories, and they were friends from then on.

Lily Shoe and Mindy

 

At Christmas time, Lily went to visit the pack in Colorado Springs and had a very happy Christmas with treats, turkey, giblets, a dog door, cool evenings and lots of love. Though there were young dogs in the pack, they recognized Lily’s advanced age — now 16 — her wisdom, humor and frailty and they were considerate and playful at the same time. Lily was happy. One of them, Satchmo, the youngest of all, kept an eye on Lily at all times and one night when Lily got herself stuck under a patio chair (she was blind, remember) Satchmo sent up an alarm and the captain went out and freed Lily. (In the photo below, he is lying with his back against Lily)

Christmas with the pack

Christmas Morning, 2014

Life was uneventful for a month or two until, in February, there was the first real snow of the year. Lily was in Siberian husky Heaven and spent hours walking back and forth in the snow in the yard.

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Pulling the Dogsled of Dreams

Then, in March, Lily began having nightmares and she woke up every night screaming and crying. The captain couldn’t comfort her and neither could Dusty who stayed with her all the time. After a while, it was clear to the captain that Lily’s mind and spirit had become frail and that Lily was suffering. They got into the car and this time the captain came home alone. Dusty and Mindy read the story in the scent on the captain’s clothes.

Dusty missed Lily very, very much and so did the captain, but there was no way to bring her back. After a while, the captain began looking for a new dog, a young dog, to keep Dusty company. She found one at the local shelter who looked at her with Lily’s blue eyes. The dog had been born around the same time as Lily died, so the captain thought, “That’s my dog,” and she was right.

 

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23 thoughts on “The Outer Frail

  1. Our blue-eyed boy left last week and I think I will always miss him. It was his time and we did what we needed to do, but it’s always very sad. I’m all weepy again. The perils of loving creatures who do not live long enough.

    • I’m so sorry — I truly loved him from afar and was glad he was with you. My heart goes out to both of you. I know you’ll miss him. ❤ Yeah, it is a peril and then you think how diminished life would be without them. And probably we would be diminished as human beings as well in terms of the loss of courage and of love.

    • and then look who needed a home with me. That’s the miracle of it, I think. Bear’s birthday is very likely to have been the same day — or very near — I had to put Lily to sleep. I miss Lily and the life (mine) that she represented, but I cannot imagine not having Bear. It’s just part of the great mystery…

  2. Your beautiful post touched my heart. It’s so painful when we have to say good-bye to an animal friend. So Lily lived sixteen years; how truly amazing she was to have lived to such a ripe old age – and credit to “the captain” for plenty of love and exercise that kept her in such good shape.

    Bear’s birthday being around the same time that Lily died seems such an example of how life spirals around and back again, but each time at a different level. I hope the synchronicity of those two events augurs well for Bear to have a long and happy life too!

    • I have a Bear story to write maybe later on today — that dog is amazing in the way she touches people. I just took Bear’s eyes and her age as being a direct message from Lily. Something like that led to my getting Lily. My insane wolf-husky died of a snake bite (she was bit in the eye so nothing would help her as the venom would have gone into her brain). That night, realizing I’d have no dog to hike with, my sweet Lupo being too old, I went online and found a woman giving away her two huskies. The woman was in dire circumstances and had to find a home for them. They came to live with me the next day. One of them was Lily. I felt like Ariel, also a rescue, had said to me, “It’s OK. I’ve had a great long life” (she was 11) “and someone else needs you now.” Lily and Jasmine moved in as if they’d always lived there. 🙂 I think the same with Lily and Bear.

      • She is an old soul. I sometimes have thought she’s all my dogs. The way she just fit in from the first night — she seemed actually insulted that I tried to get her into a crate almost as if she were saying, “I KNOW what to do.” She has known what to do from day one. I know I might live a long time yet — but I also might not. I knew when I got Bear she might be my last dog. When she first saw me, the first thing she did was sit and make eye contact, as if she was telling me “Hello! I’ve been waiting for you.” She’s a spirit dog and maybe there is reincarnation and all my dogs melded into her sweet being along with generous portions of the uniqueness that is Bear. She’s definitely special and I’m grateful that she’s here. 🙂

  3. I’m amazed at how alike Lily and Bear are in those two photos. The colouring isn’t quite the same, but the similar shapes of the eyes and muzzle are quite apparent.

  4. I like how you wrote this story. Lily was a beauty and I do think that a certain dog or cat comes along to take the place of the one we have lost. It has happened to me a member of times. It’s as if the spirit of the departed dog or cat is now present in the one that comes to us- either by our choosing or when one shows up on our doorstep.

    • I absolutely believe that. It’s happened to me over and over. Lily herself seemed to have been a “gift” of Ariel who died of a snakebite to her eye. I found Lily and Jasmine online that night and they came to live with me the next day, as if Ariel had “moved over” for those two dogs who desperately needed a home. It felt the same with Lily. I still miss her as she was part of a life that I’ll never have again, sort of my last link. But Bear fits THIS life very well. 🙂

      • Martha I’m so glad that I’m not the only dog or cat person that believes our pets spirit leaves and either goes into yet one to be born or sends one our way. It gives me chills thinking about it.

        I can see why you miss lily. She was an exceptional dog and now Bear is proving to be what Lily once was to you.

      • I really do think that. Especially when there’s something intense or mysterious about meeting the animal. I believe (and this will sound crazy) my dogs Molly and Lupo — who went through the time of my being abused by my partner — have twice “sent” me dogs who had lived in similar homes. Lily and her older adopted sibling, Jasmine, needed a home because of that and Cody, who was a magical dog, was in a very desperate situation because of spousal abuse — his owner, her kids and animals left the husband. A shelter took the animals and had a policy that for three months the dogs would be kept while the woman (also in a shelter) got her life together. After three months, they would find the dogs a new home. No one wanted Cody and they were going to put him to sleep. The woman put an ad on Craigslist that said YOUR HUSKY!!!! I read it and felt electricity all through me. I was walking with crutches then (after my hip surgery). We went to meet him. That day I dropped one crutch so I could walk this immense, beautiful male husky. That dog met me halting step for halting step. He was my dog. We left so they could work out the red tape and the adoption. I was going to go get him the next day. He was afraid we were not coming back and stopped eating. He nearly died. He went to an emergency vet hospital. Three days later I got him and had to hand feed him. He turned into one of the most amazing dogs I’ve ever known. He was my Knight in Furry Armor. Sorry for going on like that… 🙂

  5. A beautiful story and so glad you shared part of your life’s journey together. Dogs always appear in our lives at the right time and this all reads as if it was meant to be. Thank you for sharing and much love to you 💜💜🐾🐾

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