This is Lady. When people ask me what kind of dog she is, my standard reply always is “The best dog!” And, she is. I’m sure you might know people who have dogs of this breed…the “best dog in the world” breed. You might have one yourself.
As you know, I usually write about pie, but I thought you might like to know a bit more about my life.
Lady has been with me for nearly 15 years now.
Here’s our story:
In 1996, I lived in a cabin that hung on the side of a small mountain on the Olympic Peninsula. It was on a wear cycle when I purchased it and over the three long years I was there, I received an education in life on the edge.
I’m not known for having tools and skills but during my tenure there I learned how to manage hillsides that were coming down behind the house, an old logging road (the only way in and out) that needed to be rebuilt, a water system that lost it’s pressure tank when the guys working on the road cut the water line, an above ground temporary phone line that was over a mile long and had been spliced so many times that sounded—when it worked— like I lived on Mars.
I lost skylights in heavy snows, saw windows shatter when the house shifted, and learned that flying squirrels are not nocturnal as the books say…the one that moved in was definitely diurnal.
I had every kind of mountain critter in or around that house from deer and bobcats outside to pack-rats and shrews inside. I learned that this is just daily life in a mountain cabin.
The first winter we had four and a half feet of snow on the mile long road to the house. We snowshoed in and out for two weeks carrying supplies in backpacks. I lost any romanticized view about winter and snow on the steep treks up the hill.
When my son, Duncan, was about 10 years old, he invited his best friend, Cody, up for the afternoon. Cody’s dad, Mike, had been helpful over the months giving advice and helping me with chores and repairs that I couldn’t handle.
That afternoon just before he left he said, “Katie, what you need up here is a dog.”
My reply was a quick and sure, “Yes, I do.”
The boys quickly settled into playing and I heard their happy voices and laughter from the hot tub that perched on the corner of the deck.
About 30 minutes later I walked outside to check on them and much to my surprise, there was a little black dog very slowly walking down the steps onto the deck. She walked up to me, burrowed her head into my knees and then looked up at me. I was a goner.
Lady loves children and had heard Duncan’s and Cody’s voices out over the valley below. It must have been what pulled her up the steep road.
The boys of course said, “Can we keep her, please?”
I didn’t agree right away but within minutes I already knew what an angel she was.
We named her Lady.
“Almost full grown”, the vet said when I took her into him the next week. She was 19 pounds and just skin and bones. I could pick her up and hold her in one arm. Lost or abandoned, Lady was a mess when she arrived. Her normal weight should have been about 34 pounds.
I looked in the paper for a Lost & Found ad. After 5 days, I saw something that looked like it might be her and deparately wanting it not to be, I called. The man on the other end of the phone described her by temperament.
I said, “I’ve got your dog.”
He had found her the previous week wandering out at the local airport, starving and had brought her home. He’d already incurred vet bills of his own for her.
He lived clear across the valley and we would have to arrange for the transfer around two different work schedules.
We made three attempts. The first two times he called and had to cancel. The third time I had to cancel.
This time when we spoke I asked him if there was any way that I could buy her from him. Duncan and I had grown really attached to her over the week she was with us. She had already become family. We had had a lot of loss in our lives at that point and I’m not sure if either of us could handle more.
There was a long pause and then he said, “Well, let me think about that and get back to you tomorrow.”
It was a long wait and when he did call back he said, “You can’t buy her from me.”
I was heart broken and trying hard to not to let him hear the quiver in my voice.
Then he said quietly, “But, I’ll give her to you.”
Now, I really started to cry. I offered to reimburse him for the vet bills but he said, “Nah, she’s found a good home with you.”
And so she has.
Lady has been with me through ups and downs, happy times and sad times. She’s moved from the mountain house to the blueberry farm, into town, to the big city and now back to town. She’s been my best friend for 15 years and I love her dearly.
When she came I got a glimpse into the words, “Ask for what you need and it will come to you.”
When I said, “Yes, I do” to Mike’s “You need a dog up here”, I like to think that she had asked for Duncan and me, too.
UPDATE: At the age of 16 and a half, Lady passed away on October 7, 2011. She truly was the best dog.