It is difficult to recall today if it was five, six or seven years ago that a small white dog with a light brown spot named “Pickles” came into our lives. Even before we met, she had a difficult life; but when she found my husband, she got a new lease on life. From the moment that she came to live with us, I experienced the exquisite joy of loving this wonderful creature that showed me the depths of trust and caring. She would sometimes revert to her patterns of self-protection that others did not always understand, but I knew, and I would comfort her and always let her know how much I loved her. I found myself saying on a daily basis: “Thank God for “Pickles” because I fully understood that the love I had for her originated from a divine source.
In the beginning, my husband, “Pickles” and I would take long morning walks through the neighborhood until that had to be altered to suit her in moments when her early memories triggered a “fight or flight” response. We adapted and she still enjoyed walks with the two of us. Neighbors all knew her and small children would say: “Hi, puppy” even though the truth was that she was an older dog.
Reminiscent of her early days in the home of a man who rescued her and gave her a home and a backyard with him and his wife, she would chase squirrels and cats and had an odd aversion to motor cycles, loud noises and certain people. When the man died, his homebound wife could no longer care for her. That is where our story began. My husband came to know “Pickles” because our son rented an apartment in the building owned by the man and his wife. Whenever my husband would visit to help my son or drop something off, he would take “Pickles” out for a walk because he appreciated how confined she was within the house and fenced in yard. Reluctantly, I began to see this budding relationship as a threat to my heart that had been broken when my dear “Skipper” of fourteen died some years earlier.
A sudden turn of events following some challenging moments for “Pickles” made it clear that she needed a new home. My husband and I talked it over after he exhausted efforts to “place” her with someone, and we took her home on what we told ourselves was a trial basis. With the help of our grandchildren, we got her oriented that first weekend, and thereafter, she was our new family member.
“Pickles” was a regular at our local groomer and was a welcomed boarder when my daughter was unable to stay with her during our trips out of town. She helped to get the vote out in primaries and major elections graciously allowing me to put a sign on her back that read: “VOTE.” She welcomed all visitors to our home with eager excitement. She always met us at the door and invited us to join her in her special spot on the couch. She loved my “Paris Room” with the comfy yellow arm chair and the child-size purple chaise lounge. She enjoyed the cool sanctuary of the bathroom during storms and noisy July Fourth fireworks. She was an avid traveler in our family car and relished opportunities to take the trip to pick up or drop off our grandkids or other family members. When I would stroke her ears and put my head close to hers, I could hear her almost purr with a stunning vibration of what I felt as pure love.
On January 6th, a day that will live in infamy for many reasons, our precious “Pickles” was put to rest after a series of seizures that we were advised would only get worse for our beloved friend. I am sitting on the couch in the early morning hours of the following day after this fateful event and through my tears I know that I will carry joyful memories, smiles and lessons taught through her loving kindness that guided me to new depths of compassion and understanding. She knew how to give her paw when she wanted something and how to “go on the paper” when walks were not an option. She never judged us, even when we accidently stepped on her toe, and she was always there for us at the end of the day. I remember often saying: “I wish I could put her on a charm bracelet and take her everywhere with me.” This is my lasting tribute to our dear friend who gave me joy and unlike the losses of the past, “Pickles” leaves me with the realization that my heart is not broken; it is open. Thank you, “Pickles.”