Monday, June 6, 2011

Miss Aggy Sits Shiva

Miss Aggy is a sweet little dog with an interesting and sad history. Her name is really an acronym designed by my two oldest grands: Annie and Garrett. Her name stands for:

Annie and Garrett's Gentle Youngun'

Aggy's story begins, at least with us, on a desolate highway in middle TN. I was returning from doing some equine work on my horses while they were staying at a friend’s ranch. As we were driving home on this hot and blistering summer day I spotted a critter laying in the highway- I thought at first it was a dead deer in the road- but then it moved- I quickly glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw no cars or trucks behind us and slowly pulled over to the median. I told the grands to stay put- gram needed to stop and check it out as this is what I do (I am a veterinarian by training) I heard my grandson say "Gram its coming towards us around the back of the van" I thanked him and sure enough here was this limping little dog coming toward me. I made a quick assessment and decided to see if she would let me lift her into the van (all the while praying oh please don't let this be some wild critter who will attack the grands) This pup let me lift her in spite of all her wounds - including a huge gaping chest wound, and i laid her on the floor of the van- I incidentally keep the middle two seats tucked into the body of the car so i can more easily transport things like feed, supplies and critters- the back bench seat is up for back passengers (at the moment that was my grandson Garrett) or for my Carolina dog Chipper Cheyenne) The pup laid on a towel i put down for her and my grandson proceeded to comfort her- She was dehydrated, starving, full of ticks and with many wounds both brutal and frightening- What was especially unreal is Aggy was only somewhere around 3 months old.

As we got back on the road the kids started thinking of names- and they came up with Aggy.

Well it has been about a year since then and Miss Aggy has grown healthy and strong and very very happy- In fact we nicknamed her Wags because that little half tail (yes someone had chopped her tail) that little tail does not stop wagging!

Until the other day...Aggy was doing her usual romp through the yard barking at the squirrels she chased from branch to branch fence to fence- it was a game she loved and i think the squirrels enjoyed it too. I was busy working in my office listening to the barks- and then suddenly there was a different very distressed barking and howling coming from Aggy as well as Chipper Cheyenne our Carolina dog. I jumped up and ran to the front door and out to the front porch- where i saw the pup at the gate howling and barking- and Chipper running back at me with the bark that said "hurry! Do something!"

I looked to the street and saw what was distressing them- a squirrel had been hit and killed by a car/truck i don’t know what- i went down to the gate where Aggy stood whining and staring at the squirrel- i held her close and talked gently to her telling her it’s ok Aggs its OK, she whimpered some more but leaned into me- never taking her eyes off of the squirrels dead body- i heard a truck coming down the road and it was a city worker tree trimming truck- they actually are great friends with Miss Aggy who watched as they removed some trees after one of our storms- the fellow - one i didn’t know- stopped short of the squirrels body and got out, picked him up and flung him up into the truck of tree debris- Aggy watched carefully and finally looked at me- I told her that was OK Mr. squirrel was going to go to the compost pile by our community gardens and that was a good place for him to go. Aggy stared after the truck which was now departing down the road.

I tried distracting Aggy by taking her for a walk around the yard. I pointed out a different kind of bee than our usual one- actually what i said to her was "well Aggy I am not sure who this little guy is but I bet our Susan J Tweit would know! Aggy wagged her little tail a bit at that- she is used to me talking about our story network friends the Susans A and T- I talked to Aggy about pollinators as we watched the industrious bee do its thing- Then we walked around and watched some birds running back and forth to their nest in the bushes and talked about the babies and how maybe it would be a good idea not to eat anymore birds ... Aggy then came inside with me where she laid down under my desk and simply looked sad....later that afternoon she was back out in the yard when my partner Maria came to me and said I think your dog is Jewish (She was smiling as we often talk about my heritage and life choices as a Jewish Irish Buddhist). I said oh? She said yep Aggy is out at the fence sitting Shiva- and sure enough there was little Aggy sitting and staring at the spot in the road where the little squirrel met his demise.

Aggy spends less time at the gate these days and is back to playing with the squirrels. she is also distracted nicely by her dog friend Ace - an 18 month old border collie- who comes over to play once in awhile while his mom goes to work at the local shelter- but every once i awhile I catch Aggy's sad look- and i will continue to hear that pitiful wail- Miss Aggy of the gentle heart-

So this story of Aggy sitting Shiva will be part of a children's book on the gentle little dog who is my precious Miss Aggy- thanks to a wonderful suggestions by one of the "Susans" - Susan J. Tweit- it is good to take sad events and make them teaching moments- i am after all a teacher and a writer- but most of all i am deeply touched by this little dog who has seen so much, and experienced such brutality in her first months. And the gentle soul that she is touches me but also teaches me daily.