Our little Trudi, aka Trudy the Beauty and Princess Truffy, lived to the remarkable age of 16 years, 2 months.
It’s been a tough summer, in general, for all of our dogs. It’s been oppressively humid – and they’ve all struggled through these days. But, they really took their toll on our elderly Trudi. On each of these days, it looked as though she was taking her final step and her last breath as she’d struggle to move from one place to another, trying to find relief from these severe conditions. But, then we’d get a cool spell and she’d pep right back up spending as much time out in the back field as she could. And, so it’s been … up and down. But, we had always had the UPs in which she was her old self.
This weekend, things changed… this was it. She just lay in her bed not wanting to move, not wanting to go out – and when I felt she must go out at some point to do her business, I carried her out. She seemed to be telling me – It’s time.
If we are fortunate enough to have our beloved canine family members reach old age, I think we all wish that they’d fall asleep at night… and go into an eternal sleep. Unfortunately, for me – and probably for most people – this hasn’t happened. The decision must be left up to us. It’s a heart-wrenching decision to make, and it never gets any easier. When my elderly Irish Setter, Breezy, was near the end of her life, a vet said a very kind and thoughtful thing to me: As human, we have the privilege to be able to relieve our beloved canine family members from suffering. This is something, unfortunately, we are unable to do for our beloved humans. It’s important that we realize when to do this. I have carried this thought with me throughout the years. It has helped me greatly. Our canine family members give us so much comfort, love, and attention without asking for anything in return. They deserve this from us and count on us to bring them the necessary relief.
Early this morning, I called our vet and asked him to come to the house – it was time to put Trudi down. Trudi lay on her favorite bed with her favorite blanket. James lay on the bed next to her, Annabelle and Lily lay on the floor encircling Trudi’s bed and they watched as the vet administered the injection that ever-so-peacefully sent her into eternal sleep. They then spent a few minutes sniffing her and then watched as the vet and I carried her out on a stretcher covered in her favorite blanket. They know she’s gone. It’s important that they know this.
Trudi came to live here at Bridgvale Farm after the death of our beloved English Setter, Beatrice. Trudi was already 7 years old at the time – and, for the last 9 years she reigned as Princess Truffy ushering in 4 new English to our household. The latest was Lily with whom she spent only 3 weeks – but she had quickly bonded with her and gave her the royal seal of approval.
In her early days here at the Farm, she’d run like a leopard around the entire perimeter of the back hayfield. I loved to stand and watch her move. And, she’d sit for hours atop the picnic table out in the back. She’d sit straight-as-a-poker, not moving a muscle, and swivel her head from side-to-side like an owl surveying for prey.
In 2004, when I founded Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc, Trudi was the model for our logic. Her image appears on everything Bright Spot related. Together, she and I were the first Bright Spot therapy dog team – now today, there are 80 teams visiting throughout Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut. Trudi attended meetings at Cooley Dickinson Hospital when the Chaplin and Volunteer Director wanted to initiate a therapy dog visiting program at the hospital. Trudi was the dog that piloted the program and persuaded hospital committee members to sanction the program that today has 7 teams visiting at various times throughout the week.
Her happiest days were spent when her buddy Phoebe came from Eileen’s to join us here on the Farm. The two were inseparable – they actually ran the back field side-by-side, as though joined at the hip. They’d sleep together entwined in a round LLBean bed. As a therapy dog team, together the pair made weekly visits to psychiatric patients in a local hospital where they dazzled both patients, staff, and people waiting in the lobby for appointments. Sadly, Phoebe’s life was cut short by cancer at the age of 8. The light seemed to dim in Trudi’s sparkling eyes from that point on. When I took her to the psych unit to make her first solo visit, she stopped dead at the door and refused to go in… not without her buddy.
Since I do believe in an afterlife, I choose to believe that Phoebe was waiting for Trudi’s arrival – and the two of them are once again running together side-by-side… the bright twinkle having returned to Trudi’s beautiful dark eyes.