Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hilda, RIP

I would like to be one of those people who write an obituary about the best dog in the world, but that is not going to happen. I have to be honest. Hilda was a challenging dog. She was a high maintenance dog. She could be a pain in the butt. She tore up and destroyed more than her fair share. And speaking of sharing, she didn't.

When my big dog Bennie was about 6 months old, my wife and I decided to get a companion for him. I was thinking of a dog just a bit smaller than my Border Collie mix, but at a PetSmart adoption my ex found a little fury girl. Nobody really knew what kind of dog she was. She was maybe 6 months old and seemed to have come from an abusive family. She was scared of her own shadow and did not seem to like anybody. Although I did not really want her, my ex prevailed. I named her Hilda, because that is who she was.

After about 2 weeks my wife hated her. After about 2 weeks Hilda hated my wife- an emotion I would later understand. Hilda, however, grew to love me. A year later I was divorced and living in an apartment with two dogs and Hilda grew to love me even more. Eight years, many rugs and countless bedspreads later, I believe it is safe to say that Hilda ended up loving me more fiercely than any animal I have ever owned. And it was a jealous love. If another dog got into my lap, other than Bennie, she would launch at them. I could not pet any other dog without her trying to get between me and them.

Although she ended up trusting me and Bennie, she was always shy around other dogs and people. Children always wanted to pet her, but she would not let them until she knew them very well. Anybody not with me was the enemy. At dog parks she would stay under my feet, venturing out only to quickly share a sniff with a nearby small dog. And nobody at a dog park could ever pet her. If I was walking her and Bennie and we passed other dogs, she always tried to start trouble. For a little dog she had a lot of attitude.

Hilda slept in my bed and by my side the entire time I had her. Every now and then, perhaps because of a girlfriend or a feeling that I was not getting a good nights sleep, I would decide that Hilda should sleep in one of her and Bennie's beds. Of course Hilda would jump up onto my bed when she thought I was asleep- a herculean task for a small dog with such short legs, and a task without a 100% success rate. I would carefully place her back on the floor. She would try again and again. A battle would be waged. When she realized that I was serious "this time", she would go nuclear. She would just start peeing in my bed during the day until I relented and allowed the status quo to return. She was a strong willed little dog! It was easier to just let her sleep where she wanted.

I am a photographer by hobby, and some people think I take pretty good pictures. Hilda seemed to foil me. She did not like having her picture taken. She spoiled most of them. I have a large collection of fuzzy pictures of a furry dog. I finally got a good one a few weeks ago. I snapped about 30 shots of the same picture. One came out decent. All the others were blurred. I don't know how she did it, but I think she was a little like Nicholai Hel in Trevanian's Shibumi- she could sense the concentration on her and would psychically know to twitch when I pressed the shutter. I am grateful I got that last shot, however.

So I had to take that ride to the vets office this evening. I have cried over this little devil since I found out she was sick. I was lucky enough to know this was coming and so got to spend a good month saying good-bye. She did not seem to be in pain, but she was getting thinner everyday. She would not eat anything at all this last week. On many mornings she would seem weak and lethargic. I would cry going to work knowing that she would either be dead when I got home or I would have to make that ride. I would come home and she would greet me at the door wagging her tail, waiting for me to put down my things, walk to the carpet in the hallway, and pet her and Bennie. Then she would be fine for a while until she decided to nap. This happened many mornings. I was starting to get pissed at her for jerking my chain like this. I was beginning to think she was playing me again. Then this afternoon she did not meet me at the door. I walked down the hallway to her bed. Her tail wagged when she saw me, but she could not get up. I was about to take that ride.

Hilda, Bennie and I spent about half an hour in the woods behind my place. No matter how sick Hilda got she loved to sit outside and just look. We did that. We looked and I petted her. Finally, I could put it off no longer and I loaded her into my car. We took that last ride together.

Hilda went to sleep in my arms- it was not going to be any other way. It killed me, my stomach hurt and I wanted to cry, but she would go out in the arms of somebody she loved who loved her dearly. As I said, she was a pain in the butt at times, but she loved me as fiercely as I loved her.

She went very quickly, and as she relaxed into that long sleep, I saw the dog I have loved for eight years. I did not realize how tense she had been until the tension was released and she dropped into peacefulness. She looked how she used to look when I woke up with her at my side every morning- like all was well and there were no worries. I am glad I was able to give her that again, at least one more time.

Hilda on Flickr.





6 comments:

Fritz said...

That's heartbreaking. I've lost three dogs over the past decade and it hurts to lose each of them.

Sharkbait said...

Beautifully written and from the heart. And you made me laugh AND cry. Rest in peace Hilda.

Judi said...

Really great obit for a really great little dog. So sorry for you and Hilda. I hope you open your heart to another. Judi

Anonymous said...

your beautifully written tribute had me giggling as I look over the blurry pics.

and her 'tude comes through in the clear shots -

may your heart heal and in time be filled with the warmth at all the good times you shared

cbl,
firedoglake

Lesley said...

Gttim, I was very moved by your post about Hilda (the hellion) and very sorry for your loss. It sounds like you could have used the Dog Whisperer’s help with Hilda. Regardless, good on you for taking her on and sticking with her. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Cricket Cast, but Hilda looks like she could be Cricket’s cousin.
http://cricketcast.net/ (the earlier videos are highly amusing and poignant, well worth watching.)

gttim said...

I joke about her being a difficult dog. She was actually very loving to me and Bennie, unless food was involved and then it was every man or woman for him or herself. Thanks for the comments.