Thursday, July 26, 2018

And then there were two...


He was the little guy responsible for dandelion control. The bright yellow flowers were his favourite snack food and I didn't mind one bit!

Piper and our rabbit, Honey, were my constant companions in the garden (the two older dogs always preferring the cool comfort of the air conditioned kitchen). I have never felt right about keeping the rabbit caged, so when I could, I allowed him the freedom to hop around and explore the backyard.

Last May

You might suppose that at this small hint of freedom, the rabbit might make good his escape into the wild. Quite the contrary is true! He preferred the safety of familiar ground and always had a few favourite spots. The yard is fully fenced, so it was never likely that he'd stray far at any rate. 

My only worry was hawks. That's is where Piper's animosity for large birds came in handy. 

This hostility started with seagulls that frequent the Walmart parking lot. Piper loves the car (weather permitting). He’s one of those dogs that likes to ride in the back with his head out the open window. The slightest jingle of car keys and Piper’s at the front door manoeuvring to ensure he gets to come along.

On the occasion that I am off doing errands or in the store, Piper takes the self-appointed task of protecting the car very seriously. It was on one of these shopping trips that Piper got introduced to seagulls.

Gulls are brash and brazenly opportunistic. They often hang around in the parking lot of our neighbourhood Walmart looking to take advantage of the smallest scrap of edible garbage. When a few of them flew near our parked car, Piper decided the gulls were the enemy. I came out from the store to find him jumping around the car barking at the seagulls through the half open windows (I should mention this happened in the fall. I don't leave him in a hot car in the summer).


Piper on patrol.

It occurred to me that his dislike of seagulls might have an application in the garden.

I began to encourage him to bark whenever something large flew overhead. Before I knew it, he was barking at any large bird who flew over the garden (mostly harmless black vultures, but expecting him to appreciate the subtle distinctions between a hawk and a vulture seemed to be overly optimistic).

I began to feel comfortable with the rabbit being in the garden as long as his buddy Piper was on patrol.




I have never known a dog who is as fascinated with other creatures as Piper is.  I'll be digging around in the flowerbed when I notice Piper poking his nose at ants that make the mistake of crossing his path. Or I'll look over and see him watching bumblebees with rapt attention. 

When my husband discovered a Swallowtail newly emerged from its chrysalis earlier this spring, he gave the butterfly a free ride over to the flowers in my garden. Of course Piper was fascinated with the tentative flutter of butterfly's new wings.





Piper loved the rabbit. He was forever licking his face and ears. I am not so sure the feeling was entirely mutual, but the rabbit put up with all the attention.



In early June, I began to notice a problem with the rabbit's ears. A bit of online research suggested it might be mites, but I couldn't find any indication of mites when I examined him. His balance seemed a bit off, and then sadly, Honey took a sudden turn for the worse. He had a little seizure and passed away in my husband's arms.

I was devastated–especially by the unexpected nature of his loss. To make me feel better my husband took away the empty cage and hid it in the basement. Still, I found myself looking over to the spot by my desk where the cage had been. My morning routine of cleaning out his cage was gone and I missed the way his eyes lit up when I fed him a sliver of apple for breakfast. And of course I felt his absence in the garden...


Unfortunately, Honey has not been our only loss this summer. On Monday, we had to make that horrible decision that I knew was coming. 

Buddy was well on his way to twenty years old. He was a handsome boy and the best of dogs.


This is one of the ways I want to remember him.

In the last six months, Buddy had really slowed down. Stairs were impossible with his limited vision, so my husband carried him to bed each night and down to breakfast each morning. 


The two younger dogs would devour their dry toast and be standing at the door ready to go out for their morning exercise. More often than I'd like, Buddy would eat his breakfast and head for his bed. Still there were lots of times he'd rally and his quality of life was still good.

On Saturday, Buddy seemed to have a bad stomach bug–not untypical for an older dog. By Sunday we knew it was something more serious. We were up quite literally all night mopping up mess after mess. I took him down to the bathroom at 4 am to give him a complete bath. He lay exhausted and spent as I dried and brushed his fur. There didn't seem to be any fight left in him.


On Monday we made the terrible decision that no pet lover ever wants to make and booked an appointment with the vet. Buddy lay still while the vet confirmed the merit of our decision. A few minutes later I stroked Buddy's head, tears rolling down my face as my husband and I said our goodbyes. Buddy stirred and then drifted quietly away.

There are now just two dogs in a garden, but in my heart there will always be three.



P.S. Though the bunny is gone, Piper still charges up and down the yard alerting me to the presence of any large birds. Perhaps it is just as well, because yesterday I noticed there is a wild baby bunny in the garden. 

45 comments:

  1. This was such a beautiful post. I smiled and cried, and remembered Collies, Shelties, bunnies, and cats from past years at my house, too.
    Your photographs are beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Susie. The animals we love become members of the family, don't they? We all miss Buddy terribly.

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  2. I am so sorry, Jennifer. I know how devastated you must be to lose two special friends in such a short time. And yet, this was such a beautiful post. I love the photo of Piper with your rabbit and Buddy enjoying the sprinkler! Precious memories for you to treasure in the days to come.

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  3. I am so sorry to hear of your losses. It's so difficult to say goodbye to the ones we love, even when we know it's their time to leave us. I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that you provided a wonderful life for each of them.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Kristin.

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  4. My condolences on the loss of your dear pets. I'm a new follower, brought here by your garden posts. Your dogs are gorgeous, Buddy was well cared for and loved, he was blessed.

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    1. Welcome and thanks Pilar. I usually write about gardening, but our pets are a part of my gardening life, so I write about them on occasion.

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  5. They are both at Rainbow bridge waiting till they can see you again. I always say to my family they had better be there. Xx

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  6. I'm so sorry to read of your losses.....but how blessed our fur family makes our lives so worth living. We will all be together again..that's a promise!

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    1. Thank you. A loss does make you appreciate the ones you love even more.

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  7. Oh...I know what a terrible loss this is to you, I too have had to make this decision for a beloved pet it is so difficult. Shelties are such wonderful dogs.

    We had a bunny that was allowed to roam free in the garden and it was a delight, I would love to have another one. They really don't roam and always tend to home at night. Maybe some day.

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    1. I too am tempted to get another rabbit, but we will have to see. As for the dogs, we are going to stay with just two for now. It seems to make sense as we are selves get older.

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  8. So sorry to read about Buddy ... it is a heart breaking time when you lose a family pet .... our house was so quiet without our beloved dog.. so much a part of the family. Enjoy your remaining bunny & the two other dogs..& your summer garden looks lovely.

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  9. I am so sorry for your losses, waytoo close together. Buddy was such a handsome boy, and the bunny so darling.

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    1. It is hard when losses are so close. It seems to compound the pain. Thank you for your sympathies.

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  10. So sorry to hear about your losses. Pets really are such key members of the family. Since they are always nearby, I find I miss them acutely when they are gone. Will be thinking of you and hoping you find comfort in the garden.

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    1. Thanks Michelle for your sympathies.

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  12. Jennifer .. I am so sorry for your loss, my heart goes out to you and your husband .. we have been in your position so I know there is nothing anyone can say that takes that kind of heart break away. Only time will help soften those ragged edges and even then your emotions still get the best of you when you think of these dear ones.
    You gave them such a good home and such love ... all of your lives, human and animal, have been the better for loving each other .. there is true comfort in that.

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    1. Thanks Joy. I do take comfort in that.

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    1. Thank you for the condolences Lisa.

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  14. So very sad to learn of the loss of your darling Buddy. He will always be near you. And you'll remember your sweet Honey every time you see a dandelion. Thank you for sharing these precious and personal moments. Hugs,

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    1. He was a part of my daily routines so I find I think of Honey often during my day. I will certainly miss his enthusiasm for dandelions next spring!

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  15. So sorry to read of the losses of Buddy and Honey. Thank you for all the beautiful photos shared of your lovely family.

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  16. So very sorry for your losses. I truly believe that our heavenly Father gives us these precious pets with their pure unconditional love to give us a tangible way to experience His love while we are here. Try to focus on the joyous reunion when you will see your beloved friend again. Prayers for you and your husband.

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  17. I am sobbing, so very, very sorry for your losses. What beautiful lives your friends had, a testament to your fantastic love and care. I know how large the hole in your heart will be. Ahhhh, hugs. Utterly heartbreaking to read this.xxxxxxx

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  18. Oh my gosh, I am so very sorry to hear about both your dear loves dying. I knew it would soon be time for dear Buddy though it is always difficult whether we know the time is coming or not. It’s the way your entire world changes without them and the emptiness that’s left in your heart when they go. My sincerest compassion to you and your husband.

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  19. Your post moved me so much and I just wanted to thank you for sharing such a difficult time in your life. My dog is getting older too and I dread that day that must come. The pictures you shared were lovely!

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  20. So very, very sorry. Have been there more times than I care to remember. Our pets are so very dear to us. I pray you can concentrate on the many good times. God bless.

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    1. Thank you. We have almost twenty years of good memories. Buddy was a wonderful dog.

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  21. I am so sorry, Jennifer! That's so painful. My three dogs are very old and 2 have medical problems. It's so hard to lose them. Are you planning on getting another dog?

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    1. Thanks Tammy. Buddy's death marks the end of a era I am afraid. Harold is a few years from retirement and the plan is to keep things simple. We will probably have to switch to a smaller house with a much smaller yard. They'll be "two dogs in a garden" going forward.

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