Ode to Percy

I wish Percy could’ve lived with me forever.
Most days I think she does;
other times I feel bad to think of how we could’ve squeezed in one more
walk, one more bike ride, one more camping trip. One last hug.
I don’t regret, I just wish.

The first time I saw her she was bouncing off the walls of her cage
erupting with hoarse barks in between coughs.
The county pound manager told me she was on
her ninth day of her allowable 10.
Immediately I knew I had to take her home,
yet it wasn’t until later I would discover how my
life had changed.

According to our first vet visit, Percy was about
9 months old when I adopted her in December of 1998,
so I decided to make her first birthday three months
from that date: 3-9-99.

Percy loved toys.
And chewing just one
corner off most of my books.

I was blessed with her for 13 years.
She was with me through a lot of
important changes in my life and
at all the biggest events.

Over the years, Percy became my mood-booster,
my secret-keeper, my trusted ally.

My adventure-seeking travel companion,
my alarm to trouble, my cuddle buddy.

My patient listener, my share-in-the-excitement
fellow celebrant, my muzzle to cry on.

She became my child-friend.

More than loved, she was cherished.

Percy enjoyed her life.
Everyone’s seen a smile on a dog,
and when you love that dog
her smile warms your smile.
When Percy was having fun,
I was having fun.

No terrain impassible, no car ride too long—
as long as she was in the action,
she was happy. Whether we were in
Michigan’s U.P. or on a ride to the store,
her enthusiasm for new things
inspired me.

She was just as content and well-behaved
in a hotel as she was camping or at
someone’s home. She had a certain amount
of self-respect and her natural manners
accommodated every situation.
Of course she wasn’t always that way,
but after she departed puppy-dom Percy
just seemed to know what to do.

If there was an outdoor event,
I didn’t hesitate to take her along;
in fact, I went to more events than
I probably would have just because
I wanted to take her somewhere.
Somewhere different. Somewhere together.
At the time I simply thought they were
opportunities for her to experience
something new; in retrospect, my horizons
broadened as well.

Percy would walk for miles.
She’d jump on logs, picnic tables,
docks, you name it.
Sometimes I thought she was
looking for new perspectives.
Again, she inspired me.

I loved hugging, petting, rubbing, scratching, kissing Percy.
Although affectionate, she was very independent.
She always made sure she was near me.
She didn’t follow me around, but she was always there.

In the car, on a boat, or in a field,
Percy was content.
She loved going anywhere and
everywhere. And she did.

She loved the water, plunging into any lake, stream,
river, mud hole. Waves, for some only-dog-known reason,
provoked her to bite them.
Yet it took her a while to grow into liking (rather tolerating) baths.
She would always sass me when I wiped her rainy feet off, too.

Percinator, “Nade” for short, loved to eat.
I mean LIVED for it. Having tested her DNA
back when only the vet’s office could do it by
drawing blood, I found out she was part beagle.
The husky part I had always figured; I might have
guessed beagle by her incessant sniffing and
ravenous appetite. And those floppy little ears!
She especially took a liking to ice cream, and
surprisingly ate off a cone like a lady: something
she just did.
And something else she just did: lift her leg to pee.
Never figured that one out…

When not out exploring or eating,
Nade enjoyed sitting outside. Oftentimes
I’d have to make her come in like a kid who
ignored calls by her parents that it was
“time to come in.”
She could get comfy anywhere and liked
to sun herself whenever she could.

She also loved to hunt: opossum, squirrels, moles,
rabbits, mice, groundhogs…even deer. I’d rather
she hadn’t, but she always kept me on my toes.

Percy wasn’t a huge fan of holidays- too much
commotion for her it seemed. But of course as
family, she had to suffer through all the
shenanigans and even wear a bow or hat or two.

Percy was 4 when we first went to training class.
The first years of her life were spent on 26 acres,
so an imminent move to the city meant learning to
walk on a leash. I learned a lot about patience.
We practiced and practiced and
she did as well as I could have asked for.

Percy got along okay with other dogs by
pretty much ignoring them. Perhaps the
obligatory sniff. She sometimes would play
with other dogs, but it was more posturing than play.

But when we adopted 4-year-old Sadie from
Love-A-Golden in St. Louis in 2009 as a
companion for Percy, she really took to her
and they played quite often.
Cats she shied away from; like walk into the
other room to avoid them.

As she got older, she became more tolerant, or
maybe she just decided since she wasn’t allowed
to hunt them, she’d have to hang out with them.

I never put dog outfits on Percy, but I did,
on occasion, have to put my clothes (or shoes)
or a dog hat or booties on her…just to see…

Percy loved to be comfy and she was allowed to
get comfy wherever she pleased.
No furniture was off limits. As long as she was
comfortable I was glad, and I always made sure
there were lots of pillows and blankets around for her.

But later in 2009 she had to have a very large
malignant tumor removed from her torso.
We were told it would grow back,
but we didn’t know how long it
would take to do so.

After her surgery we kept t-shirts on her to
help protect the wound. And I suppose we
did it also in a vain attempt to hide it.
Maybe if we couldn’t see it,
she wouldn’t really have cancer.

This is Percy’s 13th birthday party.
As always, we made her special food
for the occasion: this time it was a
banana, carrot and peanut butter cake.

Nade’s last day with us began with a car ride
to one of her favorite spots: the lake.
The day was Monday, July 11, 2011.
She trotted around a bit and went for a dip.
We went home and had treats and cuddled and
watched “All Dogs go to Heaven.”

I told her for the millionth time
how much I loved her
and how much she meant to me.
Our vet came to our house that
afternoon and she went to the
Rainbow Bridge with all of us
around her, in her home, on her bed.

This is our last picture together, just me and her.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

1998 ~ July 11, 2011

So much substance and so many memories.
I’ve hundreds of pictures and at least as many stories,
but this is a glimpse of my 13+ years with Percy.

She truly was the best dog.

Ever.