Friday, April 14, 2006

eulogy for belle

Belle the black lab (also known as 3), long-time companion to 2, died today following an ambush by two fierce pit bulls.

When I first met Belle five years ago, she was already an old dog, with silver muzzle and silver paws. She had lost an eye long before (to a run-in with a sharp stick) and almost lost the other (to a thorn). But being old and half-blind had little effect on her, and she carried on more or less as if nothing had happened. Two years ago she lost a hind leg in a freak skiing accident. She was out of commission for two days, then back to running, swimming, and generally behaving as if her fourth leg had been slowing her down and she was relieved to be rid of it. Belle astounded me with her resilience and make-do attitude.

She was also one of the sweetest and most tolerant dogs around. I don’t make many dog friends; she was a rare exception. Even 9 got along with her. There are many photos of Belle calmly displaying some article of clothing 2 had foisted on her—like a tutu, or a blonde wig.

She spent a lot of time sleeping, but she also liked to take periodic explorations around the neighborhood, and today her roaming apparently took her past some poorly contained, vicious killers. It couldn’t have been a remotely fair match—two young pit bulls against an elderly, one-eyed, three-legged lab. But the word is she put up quite a fight.

I had expected that the end of Belle’s life would be very different. I pictured her losing more organs and appendages--- one here, one there—until there wasn’t enough left of her to go on. Or, perhaps, just drifting off into her dream-riddled sleep some night, and not waking up on the other side. She was so gentle and unassuming that it is very hard to imagine her meeting death in such a wild, tumultuous way. But I think perhaps I didn't know her all that well. Now that I look back, she may really have been an Amelia Earhart type: a tough-as-nails girl adventurer who survived close scrapes and kept right on, until finally going out in a blazing crash.

We gathered in the lamp-lit darkness tonight and laid Belle to rest under a small bush in 2’s back yard. It was a very sad day but also one for remembering all the happiness she had brought others, her intrepid spirit, and the simple things that are more important than we commonly realize (such as sticks). Goodbye, Belle. We’ll all miss you.


Anonymous Adrift At Sea said...

Black Labs are among the gentlest and kindest of dogs. I had one when I was growing up. May Belle rest in peace and find many squirrels to chase where ever good dogs go when they die.

4/15/06, 10:19 AM  
Blogger pjm said...

Thanks for writing that. I was--and am--shocked and dismayed by Belle's end, even though I never knew her. But at the same time, it seems like she went down swinging, so to speak: dignity (such as dogs have) and pride intact.

4/15/06, 12:17 PM  
Anonymous girltuesday said...

very sweet, tg.

4/17/06, 9:58 AM  

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