It’s Time to Tell the Story…

On April 6, 2008, our first litter of Border Collies that was ever born on the farm arrived.  Molly and Clancy bred on Valentine day in 2008, and I knew the pups would be filled with love just like their parents.  Abbie, which was from that litter had a very rough start and was returned to us just a few months from a family that didn’t know how to care of a Border Collie, and we got to keep her for a week and love on her until another home could be found.

8-15-2008, her first return to us, bath time.
We found her another home with kids to play with and many things to do where she would be in heaven, and she was.  Nearly a year later, we got a call about Abbie.  A family situation had come up, and they could no longer keep her.  Everyone’s hearts were broken because they loved her so much, it was unavoidable.  Several days later, Abbie was back at the farm and fit right in.  That first night, I was laying on the bed and talking to Elaine.  Abbie jumped on the bed and laid down close to me.  In just a few seconds, she scooted herself into my arm and put her head on my chest and licked my eyebrows.  Elaine watched and said, “She is your dog, you know that don’t you?”  “I do now, and she will never leave,” I said, and she was here until she left this world.

Abbie was always playing, running and spinning in circles.  She was full of energy and zest in everything she would do.  She loved ball, Frisbee and would find things for me to throw and set them by my feet as I walked, even moving.  She loved to play and would place the ball in front of the mower as I cut grass and would also stand beside the discharge and wait until I got off and threw it.

On a day in November in 2015, I found multiple knots around Abbie's neck, and I suspected the worse.   The following Tuesday, I made a journey along with a trip to Louisville with Abbie.  The road trip only lasted for part of the day, the mental trauma will last my lifetime.  Abbie had inoperable stage 4 cancer and was dying.   Everything was confirmed at the Oncologist’s office in Louisville from a complete exam along with many tests.  Since my “hunch” something is “just not right,” my life has been and is upside down at the very least.  I would never have expected a dog in her prime, full of health and energy fall to such a devastating disease but I soon found out I was wrong, so very very wrong.  

The following morning, I couldn’t sleep and got out of bed.  I called Abbie, and off we went walking through the woods at 4 am.  There was little or no moon, but the wind was slightly blowing through the tree, and it was dreamlike.  She led the way to her favorite spot at our lake, mostly because of it’s one of her play areas.  This time, she walked onto the dock and waited for me.  I sat down on a step, Abbie curled up into my lap and licked my face.  I cried like a child most of the time, and she stayed by my side wondering what was wrong, trying to fix me in her own way, little did she know, I was trying to fix her but I couldn’t.

The one thing I wanted for her is that she at least one more summer so she could play in the lake which she loved.  We decided on a plan of action which included chemotherapy and tried to get her immune system to respond and fight, and it did.  When she was checked after a long round of Chemo, she was in remission… we had some time.  All I wanted was it to warm up so she could play in the water.  As summer approached, she was ready, and for nearly 30 months, she was free of the disease.  I wondered if they made a mistake, somehow.  Little did I know, it came back with a vengeance… Abbie’s Vet always said it would, but I didn’t believe him.

In the first week of April, just 3 days before we were leaving to go out of the country for 3 weeks, I noticed Abbie didn’t eat her morning breakfast for last few mornings, Abbie never skipped a meal.  She gets two supplements for her immune system flown in from Australia which was important.  As a precaution, I took her to the Vet for bloodwork and a recheck the next morning.  She ate snacks at the office and acted typically, and her physical exam seemed normal, but the blood work would tell.
That evening, Abbie seemed unsteady at times and even stumbled down the stares.  It was a long night, packing for our trip kept us busy but I was worried.  The next morning she followed me but was still unsteady on her feet, and the Vet called.  “The cancer is back in full force, she is in renal failure, and her organs are shutting down, and her calcium level is through the roof.”  I knew it was terrible, but it will get worse.  Elaine was at work, and I called her and told her it was time to let Abbie go.  I called a friend for a ride and waited for her, giving Abbie everything she wanted, but mostly it was love and attention.  Abbie still wanted to be with me and would struggle to walk, and in just an hour, she was down, she couldn’t walk with her back legs. 

I knew there was a task to do and I had to do it, her grave needed to be dug.  She couldn’t walk so I carried her and placed her on top of Clancy’s grave.  Five feet away she watched me as I dug.  Every shovel full of dirt was both a physical and mental burden, but I kept going.  When it was finished, I carried her to a pallet on the driveway that I had placed for her.  I laid down beside her and with what strength she had, she scooted up to me and put her head on my chest, and licked my face as she always had, but this time she licked away my tears. 

When my friend pulled into the drive, as all the dogs usually do, they ran to greet her, and little Abbie tried too, but this time she was dragging her back legs, something I will NEVER get out of my mind.  I quickly scooped her up and carried her to the car.  Elaine met me at the Vet's office, and as we said our goodbyes.  I kissed her nose one last time holding my face to hers and took her last breath.  Abbie was gone, she had crossed over.  After enough time and everyone was cried out, It was time to take Abbie home to the farm.  As I rode in the passenger's seat, I held her like a baby and stroked her fir and held her tight.  When we got home, I ask my friend to please understand but “please leave.” Which she did.  I took her to her new home, placing her on the blanket along with her favorite Frisbee and even a ball.  I brushed her, cutting some hair to be placed with Clancy’s, kissed her one last time and lowered her.  As usual, the dogs were around and watched but being on their best behavior.  Abbie was placed behind Clancy, her Father and will be next to Molly, her Mother when that time comes.

Abbie's last photo, she is sitting on Clancy's grave, watching me
Abbie was the only dog that I was first and last to touch in their life, I was there at the beginning and until the end.  The rest of the day was a fog, and I really don’t remember what happened after I buried her.  As odd and silly as it may sound, I didn’t want to take a shower at the end of the day but did.  My face had her saliva on it where she licked me and when we were riding home, as pets usually do, her blatter released on my lap through her blanket and that was the last physical remains I had of her.
She is sorely missed, and things have changed dramatically with her being gone.  No-one brings me a ball or Frisbee and my bed is a little less crowded.  Everything has settled down a notch, and I don’t get my face washed as much.  I am so grateful that we had the time we did and as the Vet once said, “Everyday is a gift.” And it was…   

Daughter and Dad, together again
"Hey Dad, I'm home," Abbie said. "I knew you were sick and when you were coming, and I waited," said Clancy  "I sure miss the water, and my Frisbee" Abbie said.  "Come with me, you've never seen anything like this"  Clancy said, and as they walked toward the sun, Abbie whispered to her dad, "Will he be Ok, he was so sad, and I loved to lick his eyebrows?"  "He'll be fine, we'll see him soon."

As I said when I wrote Clancy's story, I do this not to make you sad or feel sorry for me, I write to help me heal and remember once again, Rest in Peace my little Abbie Dabby Doo...  Ken