Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner


Tony always said that Abbey was "Daddy's girl"...that she bonded to me more than anyone else.  But it was Tony that rescued her and brought her home nine years ago this month.  He had spotted this small black and white puppy, with an oversized flea collar on her, dodging cars in the parking lot of Top Foods in Auburn, WA where he managed the BECU branch.  He snared her and took her into his office where she spent the day sleeping under his desk.  He called me on the way home to tell me he was bringing a surprise.   Little did I know that this sweet, shy, skittish little puppy was the surprise.   We'd come back from Scotland earlier that year and I loved the old Abbey ruins -- one of my favorite was "Sweetheart Abbey" and I named her for that.  And Abbey was my sweetheart -- a great big sweetheart, though at the time she was tiny.  We never found out exactly what she was -- part Border Collie, part something else, maybe Springer, maybe Pit-Bull, maybe all of it.  She had Springer spots, but a Pit-Bull mouth, and Border Collie instincts and smarts.

When he drove up and I saw her I immediately fell in love.  At the time I didn't want another dog.  We'd just lost Zak, my little terrier that I'd had since graduate school, and before that Osita, my other little girl.  And although we also had Lucy, I didn't think I wanted two dogs again.  But here she was. And she was small.  The vet said too small to be on her own almost.  At the time she could fit in the bib of Tony's overalls.  She later grew to be over 70 pounds.  She and Lucy became a pair -- almost like an old Lesbian couple.  Abbey would sit and clean out Lucy's ears (as Cockers are prone to ear infection), and she'd brood over Lucy.  We called them"the girls", as they were inseparable. 

Lucy, although a quarter of Abbey's size is the boss.  She could boss Abbey around most of the time, but sometimes Abbey would just ignore her and walk right over her.  They'd play tug of war and Abbey would drag Lucy around by their rope and we'd laugh.  She always was shy and skittish around strangers -- she'd bark and hide behind me and peak out around them and bark again.  But her tail would wag and she'd eventually warm up to whomever was there.  We had a professional trainer work with her for a while, and I'd put her in her "safe" spot -- between my knees so I could reach down and pet her when people would come over and until she got used to them, but she remained skittish all her life.

After Tony and I separated she and Lucy would alternate between my house and his.  I'd be working in my office and she'd come in to check on me, putting her big paw on my shoulder and spinning my chair around so I'd face her and she'd insist on being petted or let out to see if Aunt Kim was around.  She usually slept with me on my bed, taking up the side where Tony used to sleep -- her 70 pounds holding the covers down, and eventually she'd sprawl out and take up most of the bed.  When she was ready to get up in the morning she'd stand over my head and make a soft "woof" sound until I'd wake up and see this.
She's been here since Monday and everything was fine. She was as full of energy as ever, running around the yard and bounding up the deck stairs.  Demanding to go outside whenever she heard the neighbor "Aunt Kim" on her deck who would always give her a doggie treat.  She was the smartest dog I've ever had.  She knew how to open up her kennel door, and the doggie day-care people said she was always herding the other dogs into a pen, shutting a gate and locking them in an area so she and Lucy could have run of the play space.  And she was forever going into open rooms, looking behind the door and locking herself in whatever space she was in.  It would get quiet around the house and I'd go looking for her and sure enough she'd locked herself in the closet for the umpteenth time.  She'd look sheepish and run out when I found her and called her "silly Abbey.."

I got home tonite and she met me in the laundry room as always and turned to go outside.  I let her out and Lucy came back first so I stuck my head out and called her.  She slowly came up the stairs and then stood in the living room with her head bowed and breathing heavily.  I knew something was wrong.  She collapsed on the floor and wouldn't move.  I called Tony who came over and we rushed her to the Emergency Vet.  On the way over she lay on the back seat of his truck and panted heavily and wouldn't move.  We had to get a stretcher to bring her in and the vets hustled her to the back and made us wait out front.  About a half hour later they came out and told us to go back.  She was laying on the floor and the vet said she was dying.  She had an ultrasound showing her heart -- enlarged and beating way too fast.  The vet said the sac around her heart was filled with blood -- most likely from the a burst cancerous tumor.  She said nothing could be done and there was no way to know or prevent it.  We knelt down and just then her heart gave out.  She went quickly and quietly and in no pain.  We cried and held our little girl for a while before heading back home.  It was so strange to arrive with her and less than an hour later leave without her.  Another loss in a year that has been too full of them.

For nine years she's been a constant in our lives -- even after Tony and I separated.  She's my little girl.  I have her collar on my desk as I write this.  I miss her.  She had a happy and wonderful life.  She was rescued and I think she knew it and was always grateful.  She loved and protected us -- ever wary of strangers.  Her life was too short -- as every life is.  
Goodbye my Great Big Sweetheart.  You will live forever in my heart.

More pictures of Abbey in this Facebook Photo Album:


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