Monday, February 17, 2014

An Ode to the Old Mother

Bishop Marie (September 15, 2002 -- February 15, 2014)

Early in the morning of the 15th of February, our dear Old Mother left us to a better place. She was surrounded by E, her son Munk, and I as she drew her last breath. She was laying in her favorite spot in the house and didn't appear to be in any pain when she left us.  She is now running wild and pain free, reunited with her old friend (and our old dog) Kelly and her daughter Jamie (who just passed away last week).  I have an enormous amount of guilt as I'm sure all pet owners have when their furry loved one passes away -- I should have taken her to the vet for her seizures... I should have petted her more that day...

Our Bishop came to us as if directed by fate.  She had came from a breeder in Princeton, New Jersey that went to a man who tried to give her to his wife for Christmas.  His wife ended up being allergic and Bishop was also allergic to the name they gave her -- Diamond.  From there, she went to an employee in the Health Department of West Windsor Township (I was employed in the Finance Department there).  Her other dog was not fond of Bishop and Bishop was also not fond of the name that she gave her -- Tiffany.  So it was then, that she fell into our lap.  We took her "for the weekend" to see if she would get along with our dog, Kelly.  We never gave her back.

To say that Bishop was a hellion would be putting it mildly.  I can't count the stuffed animals that met their demise at the teeth of that dog.  We would go to our local church sale on the last day -- bag day (everything that you could fit into a single bag was $3).  We would stuff as many stuffed animals as we could into those bags before they started to rip.  When we got home, we would pull them out one by one and she would get more excited with each stuffed animal that was tossed into the air.

She also ate our couch, literally.  I came home from lunch one afternoon and there was stuffing ALL OVER.  She had got her teeth into one of the arms of the couch and proceeded to tear and tear and tear -- the entire arm was gone by the time that I got home.  I fixed the couch as best as I could with the extra material from the throw pillows -- but that couch ended it's days with a huge "tumor" on the side as I tried to mold the stuffing back into its original shape, with bad results.

There were numerous times that she would run away with our other dog, Kelly.  We had an underground fence system in Jersey.  But Bishop realized that if she ran fast enough over the line, she would have a minimal shock and the reward of running over in the 100-acre abandoned mental hospital campus was just too much to not risk the shock.  She and Kelly would run away so often that the animal control officers in our township had a photo of them in their trucks and our numbers written down next to the photo, so that we didn't have to pay the $25 to get them out of "puppy jail".  In fact, she would run away so often, that I would stand at the door of our house and call for her from the door, hoping she would hear me.  Our neighbors thought that her name was "ketchup" for the longest time because of the way that I would yell her name.

There was also many a times that the two of them would run away while we were somewhere else.  They ran away the night we were set to leave Iowa to drive back to Jersey.  My brother found them about 2 miles away in the town cemetery.  They also ran away while we were in the mountains of upstate New York.  E searched for about 5 hours in the mountains looking for those rascals.

Our first visit to our new (and current) home

And once, when she was 3 years old, she ran away and ended up getting knocked up by a neighborhood border collie.  Two months later, she gave birth to six puppies.  I was finishing up my degree at the time, so that winter break was one of the funnest that I've had.  We had six puppies running around our little 600 square feet of a cracker-jack box of a house.  I placed five of the puppies and E let me keep one of them of us -- that was Munk.  Bishop was definitely over the pups by the time that their 8-week departure came.

She definitely had selective hearing and didn't think that she needed to stay where we put her.  She was always very excited to play with the ball -- though near the end, it was only for a single run or two and then she would lay down.  But she would jump and do circles, while panting excitedly.  While in Jersey, I tried to break her independent streak, but her will was a lot stronger than mine.  Eventually, I just learned to live with what she was wiling to give.  Once I realized that, we were able to work a lot better together.

She also liked her comfort.  She had two favorite spots in our house.  One was on the carpet right outside the kitchen (which is where she ended up passing).  She knew that she was in line of vision for all the food preparation and if I was going to hand out food, she would be able to see it.  In fact, she got so lazy that she wouldn't get up when I was passing out scraps, knowing full-well that I would walk all the way over to her (or more likely, toss her a piece, which she may have to get up because it was a couple of inches out of her reach -- I was trying to make her work just a little) and give her a piece.  She also had her own spot on one of the couches.  No one sat there -- because it was HER spot (also because it was usually COVERED in yellow hair).  But if I couldn't find her in the kitchen when I got home, I always knew that she was sleeping on the brown couch on her back (the last couple of months, she had lost her hearing and couldn't hear the yells that I would give from the door -- so I would either clap or have to walk into the living to get her).

She didn't fit into a single mold and I'm going to miss her tremendously (as is Munk).  She was definitely a pain in the ass most of the time, but she was MY pain in the ass...  And I know that she is up there, stirring up trouble.  I'm not sure that God knew what he was doing when he took her -- I think that He might want to give her back to me after a week or two.

Christmas card photos always include the dogs -- they were some of the most trying (and most fun) photos...

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