Despite having a ton of stuff to do today, I decided to go run errands instead. I really don't get out a lot lately, so when I'm in the mood, I figure I better take advantage of it, even if it's just to go buy chicken feed and toilet cleaner. Anyway, before I left, I put the ducks up and let the chickens out — a little early but that's our normal routine. My dad and I both check on them when they're out, and sometimes, we'll sit out and read or do yardwork.
So, about an hour and a half after I'd left, I had this weird feeling about the chickens and predators. It could have been the general anxiety I have about everything, or it could have been a premonition, who knows, but a few minutes later my dad called and said "Well, Butters is dead."
Oh, Butters. Let me tell you about Butters.
Back when I ordered my chicks from the hatchery, my mom said, "Why don't get some of those little ones with the feathers on their head? I love those." Polishes. She followed some people on Instagram and YouTube who had farms and raised them and just loved them. So, I did. Because at that time I was in the mode to do whatever I could to bring her a little bit of joy.
If you've never seen a Polish chicken, they're tiny little things with a big poof of feathers on top of their heads. They can't see to save their lives. I ordered a white one and a black one, but they were out of black ones, so they sent me two golden-laced ones instead. They were the color of peanut butter when they arrived, and before I had names for anyone, I would call them the Peanut Butters. Fast forward, and that's what I ended up naming them: Peanut and Butters. I also chose Butters because of the South Park character. Their personalities aligned.
So, my mom ended up with three Polish chicks that she never really got to enjoy, which means I ended up with three Polish chicks. After dealing with my mom's lengthy hospital stay and death, my dad helped me finally move all the chicks outside in September, and I noticed right away that something wasn't right with Butters. She laid down a lot, even to eat. She had absolutely no tail feathers. She stayed hovereing in a corner most of the time. The next day, I saw another chicken go after her and then I saw bloody spots, so I brought her back in the house.
Butters spent a couple of nights on the porch to rest and cover. I doctored her up with some stuff to prevent infection and gave her lots of protein. She perked up a bit and seemed really lonely, so we decided to take her back out and see how she'd do with the others. I sprayed some some stuff on her that will help keep the others from pecking at her, and I trimmed the feathers on her head, hoping it'd help her see a little better.
She was so happy to be back with the flock, and she required a little extra help in the weeks after that, but she really started to flourish after a while. Maybe a little too much. Butters became quite feisty and confident. If anyone pecked her, she pecked them right back. Her tail feathers grew back, and soon, she was bigger than Peanut who is kind of a weirdo too. Even so, she still seemed to have something not quite right going on with her. At first, we thought maybe she was actually blind, but then we started researching and decided it was possibly some kind of neurological thing. Either way, she was thriving, despite her disabilities, and everyone stopped picking on her for the most part.
Butters was hesitant when I first started letting them out for free-range time. While everyone else roamed, she stuck close to the coop and run. To be honest, for a while, I debated keeping the Polishes in their own coop. They're not super compatible with free-range time because something can sneak up on them oh so easily. Even trimming their head feathers didn't do much to help with their sight. But I also made up my mind a few years ago when I first had chickens that I'd rather them have short happy lives than spend years cooped up, literally, in a cage. I'll do everything I can for them and anything that I believe is in their best interest, but at the end of the day, God and nature will decide. I did a ton of researching and soul searching, and this is just how I feel about the circle of the life. I think if you ever want to invest your money, time, or heart into livestock, unless you just want to keep a couple as little pets, it's important to decide what mentality about death you're willing to develop because it's an unavoidable part of it... but that's a post for another day.
Back around the end of November, my two roosters got into a bit of a squirmisth. Again, this is another post for another day, but this left my big guy, Rudy, a bit beat up and with some hurt feelings. He sat and moped under their coop for a couple of days, and Butters stayed by his side. For about a week, she followed him everywhere he went. Until recently, Rudy had been one of the lowest on the pecking order, even though he's a guy and easily two to three times as big as the rest of the chickens, and I think Butters understood that and knew he needed a friend. Then again, Butters loves having friends. Anytime she spotted one of the other chickens sprawled out in the sun, she'd run over and plop down beside them. She was just a social little lady who wanted to belong so badly.
Well, over the last week or two, Butters has become quite adventurous. She has a tendency to wander off on her own, but the other two Polishes do that too. I kind of think they don't realize they're doing it. Anyway, we did so much to help her build her confidence, and maybe we did a little too much because she thought she was invincible. Last night, she was halfway into the woods, and I told my dad as went over to herd her back, "That girl isn't long for this world."
I had no idea just how right I was. We're not entirely sure what happened, but it was most likely a hawk or an owl. I've never lost a chicken to an aerial predator. Foxes and coyotes, yes, but the local hawks have never been successful. What seems unusual is that only one of my other chickens seemed scared or acted like she knew something was amiss. We actually thought it had gotten her too until we found her hiding somewhere. The others were all business as usual, even my two roosters who are actually really great at keeping an eye out for predators. But, like I said, Butters liked to wander off by herself, and the boys and the other girls were probably off somewhere else when it happened.
My poor dad is having a hard time with it. Mr. "I don't care anything about farm animals" has become quite the farmhand over the last few months. With my mom gone, him retired and recovered from his health issues, COVID sticking around, and me working so much, he has taken over many of my animal duties. And Butters was his favorite little feathered friend. My chickens aren't crazy about being handled, but he had Butters trained so that he could just pick her up and hold her without much a fuss. He buried her, and I'm pretty sure he didn't eat supper tonight. I told him that my mom had wanted these Polish chickens, so maybe she's finally getting to spend time with one of them now.
So, that's the story of Butters — the mightly little chicken whose 7 months on this planet made quite an impression on my family. We'll probably cut out free range time for a little while, and when they do go back out, it will be mostly supervised. After this weekend, the weather is supposed to warm up a bit, it's about time for fox and coyote mating season, and that hawk or whatever it was will likely return. We'll figure out our balance again and move on. That's just what you have to do.
One of my biggest fears since getting my chickens when they were just a week old has been keeping them safe from predators. We basically live in the woods, and hawks, coyotes, foxes, neighborhood dogs, raccoons, owls, snakes and other creatures who wouldn't mind a delicious free-range chicken for supper are everywhere.
There have been a few near misses. Once, I was at the pool and looked up just in time to see a hawk flying down at them. Once, I walked up to pick them some kale from my mom's garden and came back to find them all curiously surrounding a stray boxer who appeared out of nowhere. The poor things are not afraid of dogs. Last summer I discovered a snake who was about 4-5 feet long in their house, but I think she was just looking for eggs.
Unfortunately, last week, one of those wild creatures was successful in plucking one of my girls from the yard.
The ladies have a nice big house and plans to move into a bigger one this year, and they get to have their freedom for a few hours each day. They put themselves up when it gets dark, and then I go feed them and shut them up for the night, but for some reason they've been lingering outside the door a little when it gets dark, soaking up every last bit of sun they can. I don't blame them. We've reached the part of winter where it's depressing for the sun to go down by 6 pm.
Anyway, last Thursday night, I'd stepped outside to put them up, but they weren't all in the house yet, so I decided to come back inside and get the dogs' food ready while the chickens lingered. The dogs were outside, and I'd just been out there making plenty of noise. I was actually sitting just inside the door in plain view of the coop. There was no way something would grab one of them with all this going on.
Suddenly, I heard one of the chickens scream. If you've ever had chickens, you know they scream about pretty much anything out of the ordinary. But when I got outside, the dogs were chasing something into the woods, and I only counted five hens instead of six. I searched the yard and edge of the woods as best as I could in the dark, hoping she was just hiding. I got up the next morning and saw no signs of a struggle — no blood or feathers. She was gone.
So, now I'm down to five. To be honest, I'm not sure which chicken is missing, because three of them look just alike — my golden-laced wyandottes — and I have to see them all outside together to tell you which is which, based on size and personality. Rose is tiny yet outgoing, Myrtle is a big lazy gal who hangs out with Marigold (the head hen), and Iris is skittish, keeps to herself, and barely leaves the area by the chicken house.
I'll know which one it was for sure in the next few days when I return them to short periods of ultra-supervised free-range time. In the meantime, I kind of feel like I let her down. I've decided the culprit was most likely a fox, coyote, or stray dog, but what kind of animal has the nerve to approach with humans and other dogs around? I wonder if she died quickly or suffered in pain for a while. I wonder if the other chickens miss her?
When I first put them into their new home, I decided I'd much rather them have their freedom, even if there's a risk, than to spend their lives in a cage and never get to experience digging in the mud for worms and scratching in the leaves and all the things they love to do. And I stand by that idea, but it doesn't make it any easier. Their new digs should provide a larger fenced-in area for that, and believe me, I've read every article online about how to make it predator proof. But given the circumstances of what happened last week, I've decided there's no way to completely protect them from harm unless you keep them inside your home. That doesn't mean I won't try, but it's one of the harsh realities of owning livestock, I guess.
*I realize I am not an actual farmer because I've raised half a dozen chickens and grew some tomatoes last year, but I don't let that stop me from pretending.
I knew it was going to happen. I just didn't know when. Probably sooner rather than later. Maybe before the end of the year. Possibly before the end of the summer.
Before the end of the summer.
That was the nagging feeling I had that I could never voice to anyone or even really acknowledge myself. June has not been kind to my family over the last few years, and when she had a rough day early that month, deep down, I wondered if the curse would continue. But medication and diet changes helped almost immediately. Days later, she was a completely different dog. Maybe those nagging feelings about the summer were just my anxiety running wild.
But, as it turns out, Gabby would not survive the summer. Sometime on July 17th, between 10:30 am and 12:15 pm, she left this world. I'm writing this not to get into the details of our lives together — I've done that, will probably do it again, and if you know me at all you know we were inseparable. I really just wanted to document our last few days together and apart. My parents often make fun of me because I blog or write or post to social media all the time, but because I've been doing that for the last 12 years or so, I have so many memories, ideas, and pictures documented. I just need to add this one to my collection to give my brain a little break. It seems important to remember, but it's exhausting to relive.
I've been working a lot this summer. My dad has been sick and working a lot, my mom has been sick, Gabby has been sick, I've been sick. For a while there, I spent my days running errands, cleaning, and cooking for the dogs and my parents and my nights working until five, six, seven in the morning. I regret that now, but I'm trying not to go down that path of what I could have done better during her last month on earth, because it's not something I can change. That said, I can't help but be sad about the fact that after July 20th, I had plans to cut back on my workload. Some of those reasons were selfish, but one of them was to spend more time with Gabby during the day. The fact that I never got that opportunity will probably always nag at me a little.
Friday, the 15th, was a busy day. I had to take my mom to the doctor, came home for a bit, and left again to buy groceries. That night I worked until about 4:30 or 5:00 am, but the website I was using for work was down for maintenance, so I decided to call it a night. As soon as I got into bed, Gabby got up and began looking for a more comfortable spot in the bedroom floor. I watched an episode of I Love Lucy, sent a few emails, and finally got up and put her back in the bed with me, because I can't bear not to sleep with her. If she's not in bed with me, I wake up countless times through the night in a panic. I can't remember when that started. I'd like to say it was around the time of her train incident, but I know it was before then because the night before that incident she didn't sleep with me, and I couldn't sleep well. And because she didn't sleep with me, she ended up being hit by a train. Another little regret I'll always have.
Around 6:00 a.m, I set my alarm for noon on Saturday because I had so much to do. I currently sleep in two twin beds pushed together, and because of the headboards, there's a bit of a gap between them. Gabby and I always slept on one, and the other served as a catchall for clothing, laptops, medication, toiletries, books, and whatever else I brought to bed at night. When I put her on the bed that morning, she immediately went for the center of the head of the bed where I always slept and put her head on one of my pillows, just like she used to before we moved back in with my parents and everything went a little crazy. She hadn't done that in years.
There was nowhere else for me to go besides on top of that gaping hole between the beds, but I was so tired and so happy that she wanted to snuggle up that I didn't care. Before I could even figure out a comfortable position, Gabby wriggled herself next to me, her head in the crook of my arm, and she was sleeping more peacefully than she has in months. I didn't have the heart to move her, so I didn't. And despite the fact that I was probably in the most uncomfortable position I could come up with, neither of us moved for the next six hours. I had amazing dreams. It was the best sleep I'd had in months.
At noon, I leaned over her to turn off the alarm, and she flipped over to face me, began pawing at me and acting silly, begging for attention. I petted and played with her for a while before we both got up. I tried to spend a little time in bed with her every morning. Some days she was goofy and wanted to play; some days she was tired and wanted to go back to sleep. Some days one of us was in a hurry to get somewhere, but that morning was good. It was fun. Our last morning together.
On Saturday, I had to run errands and then I had plans to work the rest of the day. I was trying my best to get everything caught up so I cold take some time off the next week. Something kept me from getting much work done, though. When I went to run errands, I knew my mom needed things at the store, and she and my dad were at the pool. Maddie (my parents' dog) and Sadie wanted to go with me to the pool, and I was trying to sneak out without Gabby (she was a pain to take outside when you had other things to do out there), but she caught me, and I took her, too. She ended up swimming for a while, one of her favorite things to do. She got in, got out, rolled in the grass, and repeated those steps. It was like she knew it was the last time she'd get to do it.
I went on to the store, came home and fixed the dogs their food. Chicken thighs and couscous for Gabby. I gave her a little extra that night because she seemed to be doing well. Then I decided to go swimming myself. I sat in the pool and read for a little while, and when I came home she greeted me, sitting at the door to the porch. She knew where I was...that dog always, somehow, knew where I was. Even when I was traveling to another state, she'd start misbehaving about a week before I even started packing because she knew I was leaving. Every single time. That night, when I got back from the pool, I felt a little guilty for not taking her, because I know she wanted to go. My mom said she sat pitifully at the door, scratching on it occasionally. That's another little regret I'll always have: missing our last potential swim together.
I made tacos that night. When she was little, I taught Gabby how to "give me five" in exchange for a treat. Being the stubborn genius that she was, she taught herself how "give me five" nonstop while I ate until she earned herself some table scraps. Most nights she won, though I'd stopped over the last few weeks because she was on such a detailed diet. I gave in that night and gave her some taco meat. That's one thing I definitely will not ever regret. Both of my dogs — even sweet little Sadie who rarely begs for food — love tacos as much as I do.
My mom's been begging me to watch this movie with her for years, so that night, instead of coming straight up to work, I watched it. Gabby rested her head on my foot during most of it. There was a point when Sadie walked by her, and Gabby got up and began kissing her. Gabby mostly ignored the other dogs in the house, but now I wonder if she was telling her little sister goodbye. Sadie ate up the attention as she did any time Gabby paid her any. At one point Gabby began begging for food again, so I gave her a leftover flour taco shell. Her teeth weren't that great anymore, but she sat and nibbled at it for a while. She didn't leave my side that night. I joked that she was annoying me. My mom joked that she seemed so much more like her old self than she had in the last month or so. I remember trimming some tangled hair off her chest that night — I'd been meaning to do it for a few weeks. I commented that I was going to bathe all three dogs the next week. Then she and the other dogs went outside. She kept up with them in the backyard, even running and barking into the darkness with them, despite being nearly blind and deaf. Sadie always stayed with her if they strayed too far from the house.
We came back, and I went into the kitchen to clean up dishes. At some point, Gabby went flying through the room. I ran after her, a habit since her accident four years ago, but she was not having any kind of medical issue. She'd gone into the pantry, opened a box of dog treats, and got one. She was just trying to sneak by without me seeing her. Typical Gabby behavior. I lovingly called her "big dummy," one of her many nicknames. My mom joked again about how lively she was that night, and then, just like any other night, I carried her up to the second floor where I currently reside. I complained about carrying her up every night when I knew darn good and well she could make it on her own, but the truth is I would have carried her everywhere for the rest of my life if I had to.
I put her on my bed and sat down at my desk to work. I decided I didn't want to be up late or leave her alone in the bed for long, so I was only going to do write two blog posts just to cut back my to-do list for the next day. Before I could finish the first one, she was restless. She moved over to the bed we don't usually sleep on and made herself a little nest on a pile of clothes. The corner of that bed practically touches my desk chair while I'm sitting at it, so I wondered if she was just trying to get near me. I petted her a little bit. She slept there for a hour or so while I completed those two blog posts. When I finished, I got up and went to the bathroom to get ready for bed, and she got up and followed.
When I was finished, I put her back up on the bed and petted her for a while, hoping to calm her down. This had been our routine for a while lately and one reason I've been sleep-deprived since sometime in May. I'd work half the night, finally get into bed just before the sun came up, and then she'd get restless. Sometimes she wasn't feeling well. Sometimes she need to go out. Sometimes she was hot or cold or just wanted me in the bed with her. Much of the time it took at least an hour to let her get it out of her system. So, that night, I assumed it would be like the others. I sat in bed and sent an email or two and started watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix, something I've been wanting to do. She slept pretty soundly in the floor during the show, so when the first episode ended, I got up and put her back in the bed.
A while later, she woke me up, flying out of the bed. She wanted to sleep by the bathroom door. I wanted to let her, but I couldn't, so I put her back in the bed. We continued this battle for a while. I finally gave up. When I say I am sleep-deprived, you have no idea how little I'm exaggerating. With all I've had on my plate lately, plus dealing with her insomnia, I was lucky to average two-three hours a night for the last few months, and those two-three hours were not necessarily uninterrupted. There was rarely time for a nap. I kind of trained my body to be okay for an entire day after dozing off in my desk chair for 15 minutes. I can't say it's been the healthiest summer. The lack of sleep finally caught up with me that morning. At first, I was angry about that, that I couldn't stay awake while my best friend was dying, but now I think it was a blessing of sorts.
Sometime, I think around 8 am that Sunday morning, I jolted awake and Gabby was standing by my bed, staring at me. There was something eerie about it. It was dark in the room, and she couldn't see well in full daylight, much less in a dark room. She appeared to be standing up straighter than she has been able to since the train incident. I guess I could have imagined that in my groggy state. Either way, I reached down and found the strength to pull her up on the bed with one arm. The minute she hit the mattress, she put her head on my pillow. I fell back asleep, and 20 minutes later she went flying out of the bed again. I think that's when I officially gave up. I decided we'd probably be making a trip to the vet, either the emergency vet that day or our regular vet on Monday, to see why she was not sleeping well. But at that moment, all I could think about was sleep. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I could not go another moment without sleep. The stressful summer had officially caught up with me. I now think that happened for a reason.
A couple of hours later I woke up. It was 10-something. I was still so exhausted that I couldn't think straight. The only actual thought I remember having was "Where is Gabby?" I surveyed the mostly dark room. She had made herself a little bed near my bedroom door out of a blanket she'd dug out of my dirty clothes pile. She looked peaceful...sound asleep, breathing okay, relaxed, calm. I thought about getting up and putting her back in the bed, but I was so tired, it was like I could not physically move my arms and legs, and before I knew it I was back asleep. Again, I think that happened for a reason.
My alarm went off at noon. I'd been sleeping so well, and I remembered Gabby on the blanket in the floor. I hit the snooze button. Just 10 more minutes of sleep before I started another long day of going nonstop. When the second alarm went off, I sat up, and my first thought was that Gabby was dead. I kept trying to tell myself that it was just anxiety putting crazy thoughts into my head, but I knew. Even though I had no indication that it would be true, deep down, somehow, I knew. I didn't get up, but I glanced over to the blanket where she was sleeping. She wasn't there but close by. At some point in that short time since I'd last checked on her, she'd gotten up or rolled over on her side, her back against the wall between my bedroom and closet doors. It was a position she slept in when she was totally relaxed and comfortable. I couldn't see her face, because my floor fan was blocking it. I told myself she was just resting peacefully.
I pulled up my laptop, checked my email, checked social media. I remember reading about the officers who had been shot overnight in Louisiana. I read about a little dog at the shelter who needed funds to help with medical care and pledged a donation because it had Gabby's coloring. I debated going back to bed, but I knew I had things to do that day. So much to do. And somehow I knew I needed to go face one of the most horrible things that has ever happened to me. I still can't tell you how I knew.
Slowly, I pulled myself to the foot of the bed. I remember those few moments so vividly. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, even though I bet it took two minutes or less. When I got to the edge of the bed, I could finally see her face. I started to shake as I began to comprehend it all. I got up and went to her just to be sure, the room still fairly dark, but I knew what I would find. I'd known before I even woke up what I would find. I reached down to pet her and I remember saying, "Oh, sweet girl." I remember thinking she hadn't been gone long at all. She was still warm. And the strangest thing of all was the overwhelming sense of peace and calm that washed over me.
I'd always imagined myself having some kind of meltdown when the time finally came, but I felt so peaceful. I felt peaceful for her and for me. I spent every waking moment worrying about that dog from the day I got her, when she was six weeks old. She was sick when I got her and had medical issues like you wouldn't believe throughout her life. It got worse after the train incident. It became even worse over the last four or five months when her health began to decline, and her age really started to show. I constantly worried about whether I was making the right decisions. Given her medical history, I'd decided a couple of years ago that I was going to let her age as naturally as possible with as little medical intervention as possible (as long as she was comfortable and pain-free). That was a tough decision. That also required a lot of extra effort and care on my part, especially in these last few months, but it was worth it. Every last minute of it was worth it, and I'd do it all over again if I had to. If I could. Worrying about her became such a second nature to me that I didn't even realize how much I worried until that moment when I saw that she was no longer with me. It was like the world slowed down. The weight of the worry was gone. She was no longer sick or old. Life as I'd known it for the last 13 years changed at that moment.
After I found her that morning, I went to my bathroom and sat down to kind of catch my breath for a minute. I swore I heard my parents talking downstairs, and that was a relief because I didn't think I had the energy to go find and tell them. Of course, when I actually went out of the bedroom, I looked down from the balcony, and neither one of them were in the den. I yelled for my mom, who was in the kitchen. When I told her, she began to cry and said, "But she was doing so well last night." I told her things had taken a turn when we came upstairs.
My dad was at the pool, and my mom went out on the porch to tell him. I remember seeing him rise up out of the water and hit the cement with his hand. The rest of that day is a bit of a blur. I remember calling the local animal cremation place but not being able to get in touch with anyone. I found another one, though, thanks to Facebook. My parents were kind of enough to offer to pay for it. I gave the guy the third degree on the phone, and I'm not sure he appreciated it. My mom called my aunt to see if she had a large box. My dad met with the man who came to get her body for cremation. I do remember being in a hurry. I looked high and low for the beach towel I accidentally stole from Tom Petty's house because Gabby was sleeping on it in the car when we last left there, and I didn't realize it until I was a couple of hours away. I decided it should be cremated with her, even though that was a really nice towel. She loved that place, and I know going there was one of her favorite things. I'd never seen that dog happier than when it was just me and her there, hanging out by the pool, the beach, or in the bedroom.
Thank God my dad handled most of the gruesome work that day. I know it was tough on him as they were close too. He was the only other person who could really take care of her with all of her special needs which is why I've had to limit my traveling in recent years. Not to go into too much detail, but I wanted her body out of there quickly so that I didn't have too many memories of it. One thing that made me sad was that I was not with her when she died, but after talking it out with my mom, I'm sort of glad I didn't witness it. I truly believe that is why I was so tired that morning and one reason why she wouldn't stay in the bed. Neither of us wanted me to witness it. I didn't want that to be my last memory.
I slept in my parents' living room for three weeks afterwards. Moved my office down there and everything. I finally moved back to my bedroom last week (tomorrow marks the one-month anniversary), but it's been hard. I put a bookcase over the spot where she died. My dad helped me clean up the bedroom and change some of the lighting around so it would feel a little different. As I cleaned, I realized just how much time I'd been dedicating to her in recent months and maybe even the last few years, because I completely neglected my own needs in a way. I'm currently working on getting used to that.
I still expect to see her at my door or wake up and find her snuggled up to me in bed. I still wake up in a panic sometimes, wondering where she is. When I hear about some special dog food, my first thought is I wonder if that would be okay for Gabby? Sadie sleeps with me now (she'd been sleeping with my parents since Gabby's train incident), and that helps. Having her and Maddie — my parents' dog — around helps a lot. I've gone broke spoiling them with toys and treats. It's like I can't get enough of them.
When I first realized Gabby was most likely reaching the end of her life, I got depressed. I remember walking down the dog food aisle at Tractor Supply Co. and getting upset. I remember seeing countless social media posts about dogs in need of adoption or rescue and not wanting to see them anymore. I couldn't read or watch anything about dogs. And I've been such a dog person for most of my life that I feared I'd never be interested in them again when she was gone, but it's actually been the opposite. I really can't get enough. I feel so grateful that I had the experience I had with Gabby. She was with me my entire adult life so far, and she moved and traveled with me just about everywhere I went. She taught me so many lessons, and I feel like she made me a more selfless person, because she needed me. She liked to pretend like she didn't need another soul, but she needed me more than anyone ever has. Anyone else would have given up on her 100 accidents and diseases and allergies and pig-headed moves ago. But I needed her just as much, if not more. I miss that bond.
Poor little Sadie has taken a backseat to Gabby over the last couple of years. I thank God that she's so laid back and doesn't mind as much as another dog might. Don't get me wrong - when Gabby became paralyzed, Sadie became my hiking buddy. She got to hang out with me outside (Gabby was not an outside kind of girl), and she gets plenty of attention. But she also loved Gabby so much, and it's almost like we had an understanding. And she, too, was so depressed the day Gabby died. She still isn't quite herself, but we're spending a lot more time together. She's a little cat-like in that she doesn't like to be the center of attention all the time, and that's difficult to get used to when Gabby wanted to be my main focus (and usually was) but we'll each find our way. As a matter of fact, now that I have more time to start focusing on renovating my house, it may soon just be her and me — and the chickens. New beginnings and all that.
This is one of my favorite pictures — it sums up their relationship perfectly.