She was no more than eight weeks old when she, and her six rambunctious brothers, were abandoned. Discarded like nothing more than ordinary trash. Taken from her mother and dumped in the desert in what I suspect was a trash bag—from her lifelong loathing of plastic bags—she and her siblings had been left to suffer and die.
I happened upon this group of seven Lab/Pittie mixes on a mid-October morning during my morning walk through the desert. After an intense search for the owner of the puppies, I sadly learned from a neighboring woman that she had personally seen them wandering the road behind ours for about a week.
“They’ve been runnin’ around here for a week now, at least that’s how long I’ve seen em’ anyway. Don’t think they belong to anyone around here either. I talked to…” she pointed to a nearby house and mumbles a name I didn’t quite catch… “and he said he didn’t know where they came from either. Damn people just dumpin’ animals in the desert like this!”
I shook my head, more than slightly disgusted, “Well then,” I responded sadly, “I guess I’m going to have to gather them all up and take them to the shelter. It’s better than having them suffer and die out here.”
She nodded her head in agreement, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’m surprised they’ve lasted out here this long!”
I wondered, had no one else considered that it would be the right thing to do to take a litter of defenseless puppies to the shelter. Where at least they would receive food, water, shelter, and perhaps a chance to be adopted into a loving home? Evidently, for far too many people, this was considered either not their problem, or too much work! The responsibility, it seemed, had fallen upon me. With a heavy heart, I rounded up the puppies, put them in my truck, and headed to the shelter.
Once there, I explained the entire sad story to the women behind the counter. Together we went out, grabbed armfuls of puppies out of the truck, and brought them into the shelter. End of story. I hoped for the best.
I walked back to my truck, my heart breaking for the sweet little puppies I was forced to leave behind to who knows what fate, when I noticed her. Hiding in the corner of the truck bed was one last, little, black ball of fur. The only female of the litter, she had been frightened, cowering in the corner, and she was determined to stay put. I knew immediately that this one was coming right back home with me. She had stolen my heart!
And this is where Hermie’s story began.
She was named after Hermione Granger, the strong, intelligent, character from the series of Harry Potter novels. The Doodle Dee came later. I would sing to her that she was a “Hermie Doodle Dandy” in the tune of Yankee Doodle. Our little tune went like this:
♪ ♫ “Hermie Doodle went to town/A-riding on a turtle/Stuck a milkbone in her cap/And called it macaroni’.” ♪ ♫
♪ ♫ “Hermie Doodle, keep it up/Hermie Doodle dandy/Mind the music and the step/And with the kitties be handy.” ♪ ♫
…and Doodle just stuck. Sometimes the lyrics changed, but the words never mattered, it was me singing to her that brought her great joy. Then one day, for good measure, one of us added Dee. In the end, she was a doggie of many names. If we said Hermie, Doodle, Doo, or Dee, she knew we were talking to her, because she was the one and only, Hermie Doodle Dee!
Hermie had an irrepressible passion for life. Running through the desert, chasing birds, jackrabbits, and lizards, were her happiest moments. Diving through mud puddles and lounging in her little plastic pool on hot summer days brought her the greatest joy. She loved chasing her basketball and Frisbee, but never quite understood the concept of bringing it back to us. Once the ball or Frisbee was thrown, the chase was on! She would become a 105-pound locomotive, bearing down on the pitcher, coming within inches of them at full speed, daring them to try to take it back from her.
She wasn’t always a good girl though. She was a loner and didn’t like strangers very much. She loved her big sister, Nikki, in spite of the fact that she was a cat. She tolerated bigger dogs, but loathed small dogs, especially Chihuahuas. Nevertheless, her few idiosyncrasies never outweighed her wonderful qualities.
When the small spots of blood appeared on the patio, I knew it wasn’t good. A treatment of antibiotics seemed to help somewhat, but then the results came back. The vet said that her white blood cell count was way too high, indicative of leukemia. I didn’t really hear much of anything after that, the only thing my brain seemed to register was the word cancer… cancer … cancer… goddamnit. Cancer.
It happened so fast. I thought that we would have had so much more time. Her condition deteriorated rapidly. First, she lost interest in eating. Then her eyesight began to fail. Then she could no longer control her bodily functions. Five years young and she was dying, and suffering. I couldn’t stop the dying, but I could relieve her suffering.
I called the vet and made the arrangements.
“Come on Doo. Let’s go, sweetie.”
I helped her up into the car; with her eyesight nearly gone now, she needed help. Her spirits seemed to rise as we took that last ride. Once there, I paid the extra fees to stay with her in her last moments. Somehow, I think she knew, as she rested her big, black head on my arm that this was goodbye.
“It’s okay, Doo. I’m right here.”
She was tired of fighting. She’d had enough. Stroking her gently, I whispered, “I love you Hermie Doodle.”
Her big brown eyes closed quickly after the injection. Much faster than I had expected, she was gone.
She’s been gone now for as long as she was alive. Five years was far too short to share with her, yet in her brief life, she left an indelible mark on my own. I will forever cherish the unconditional love she shared.
While someone, somewhere had thought that she had been no more than ordinary trash, they had been terribly mistaken. She was my loving, loyal, Hermie Doodle Dee!
Posted in response to this week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challege: Minimalist. “In this week’s challenge, show us your minimalist photos. Find an interesting texture, color, or silhouette.”