Contest entry a Memorial to my Best friend, my dog Lilly.
| Rain fell in earnest over the suburbs of Vancouver, Washington. Though rain in January wasn't out of the ordinary rain that felt more like bathwater was another story. It was unusually warm, even the sun had made an appearance earlier in the day. It was the middle of the month, January 15th when the phone rang at a small country parsonage, just a few minuets north of Vancouver. The word was short, the puppies had arrived. I had begged my parents for a puppy since our Pastor had given us one of his Brittany Spaniel puppies three years prior. The Brittany, sir named Sunnys Little Wildfire, Buster for short, was a gift for my dad who was lonely in a house full of women.
One of the older couples in our church vacationed every summer on Long Beach, that summer they happened upon an abandoned Springer Spaniel and after no one claimed her they named her Hershey for her color was a milk chocolate and white. Hershey quickly got antiquated with the couples other Springer, Gus-Gus and on January 15th 1996 Hersheys puppies were born. A few days later we traveled into the suburbs, my first trip in all my eleven years to that particular neighborhood. The puppies were feeding from their mother wrapped up in blankets in the double car garage. I looked them all over and saw one with a little white heart on her head between her eyes, her color was that of her mother, milk chocolate and white with little chocolate spots on her nose. Her coat was to be a cotton texture, not the silky coats that are for show but the coat which made her a perfect candidate for a bird hunter to raise.
I reached down and picked her up from the litter and held her in front of my eyes, she squirmed and squeaked to go back to her dinner. Yep, she was the one. I dubbed her my little Lilly of the Valley. Lilly was ready to come home on March the 12th and she became my very own. I wish I could say that I was the model dog owner but I found that raising a puppy was like raising my cousins when they were babies. Lilly chewed and peed on everything, she pooped in the basement, she pooped in the kitchen, she pooped in the living room and all in the same night. Buster had no idea what to do with the new puppy, she confused and excited the three year old dog. It took me a while to fall into the rhythm of managing puppy care and training and school and my youth group and church activities but when I did master all of my responsibilities it was magic.
Lilly was my constant companion. We lived on church property in the parsonage, my dad wasn't the pastor, we were homeless and the pastor gave us a place to call home. The country, although beautiful, was lonely for a home-schooled preteen. My only friends were my church friends and even they all lived in the suburbs or too far away to ride my bike. No, it was just me and Lilly. I devoted all my free time to her and soon she could come, sit, heal, stay, shake (dry off) 'put'er there (shake paws)' and smile on command. All of that before she was a year, she was a quick study.
In July of 1997 my parents bought their first home, it was in that same neighborhood where Lilly was born, a suburb of a big city. Having been a country girl for a number of years and my only friends being the kids in church I immediately felt out of place and took solace in my room or in the yard with Lilly. My parents thought that getting a job would help me integrate and feel better about moving into the city so at the age of 12 I became the neighborhood paper carrier and Lilly became the route mascot. She went on my route nearly every day, most days I rode my green mountain bike with the leash strapped to the left handle bar and the tan canvas paper bag with the 300 papers draped over the front end of the bike. We were woefully off balance and I felt it a couple times when we hit a pothole or a small dog that sent us flying head over heels the leash releasing from the handle bar, me landing on my back and the bike and paper bag lying on top of me in the street. Lilly always came and licked my arm and sat next to me, if a car came by she would bark at it and the driver would go around us.
I was on the paper route 3.5 years before they changed the papers to morning delivery which meant that you had to be 18 and have a drivers license to have a route. I took care of my needs and Lillys with the route and not having income, for me, was hard. I preferred earning my own money, I liked the independence.
On the weekends after the route was finished we took the dogs on a morning run at the Vancouver lake, dad called it the "Doggie-Do Place" where the dogs got to run and do whatever they wanted. It was farm and hunting land. Cows roamed the area as well as game birds and deer. We owned two bird dogs so for them the lake was a slice of heaven. Buster darted off as soon as the car door opened but Lilly, her nature was to stay within 15 feet of the hunter, me. She would creep onto a bush and bark and we watched all the birds fly up into the air. I love birds, I never had the desire to kill them but took great pleasure in watching my dog flush them out of their bushes.
On one such trip when Lilly was 2 or 3 years old, Buster was 5 or 6 we heard a faint YIP in the distance. Dad recognized it as Buster and we took off in a run through the waist high grasses to find him. Lilly, true to her Springer breed, leaped above the grass every couple feet. In the distance we saw a large animal and dad started laughing, there was Buster trapped under a dairy cow who was chewing its cud and paying the frightened dog no mind.
During those years I was the victim of another bully, I was bullied a lot in my childhood, seemed like every time we moved I was a target for the local bully. I would ride my bike around the block, past the blue ranch house and the teenager who lived there would throw sticks at my tires, use profanity directed at me or make unwelcome cat calls. One day I decided to take Lilly with me on a ride when I knew he would be home from school. I stopped my bike in front of his house and waved to him, he came out of his house and reached down and picked up a rock. I let Lilly off of her leash, told her to stay, Lilly was very obedient and I trusted her with my life, I said 1 word, "smile" Lilly proudly stood, tucked her full length tail between her hind legs, bore all of her teeth and started growling. This stance for her was one of submission, the growling was due to her shorter nose but it looked and sounded vicious. The kid backed away into his yard and I said, "like my dog?" and without leashing Lilly we rode off down the street. After that that boy was nice to me, we weren't friends but he respected me and from that day on we had a waving relationship when we passed one another in the street.
Lilly helped me through two surgeries, a badly broken arm, 2 relationships, and countless bored days during my teenage years. She was my best friend, my every thing. When I got my license I drove her here and there on errands, she went with me to my nanny job a couple times and made friends with their Dalmatian. She went on our camping trips, went with us to the beach, she jumped on the trampoline, played baseball, she loved baseball always in the outfield of course. When we had out door church get togethers she went with me in my dads van and rode shot gun. Lilly loved to pull me on my roller blades, she was all muscle and pulling me gave her exercise she loved. She would drop her back and dig into the pavement with her paws and pull, I helped her until we got going but once we were going we could keep up with a car. She kept pace with my dad who drove 15mph with the van door open for me to get news papers from on Sunday mornings.
I moved out of my parents home when I was 20 years old, Lilly was 8 years old and still full of life. I married my childhood sweetheart, whom Lilly loved, a year later and we settled in a small town north of the city. By then Lilly had become a family dog and my mom thought it wouldn't be fair for me to take her. I visited often and rolled around on the floor with my girl like I did when she was a puppy. I laid on my stomach and buried my face in my hands and she would "rescue me" by "digging" me out. In the winter, when it snowed, which is rare in South West Washington, Lilly liked to go out and roll in it.
Lillys twelfth birthday was coming. Her muscles were disappearing, she was sore and tired. She slept a lot after she turned 10 and my parents took her to see Dr. Eric who gave her medications which perked her up for a little bit but time was catching up with us. My two year old son loved to hug on her and pat her, he was so gentle with the old Lilly. On her birthday my sister and I took her in for her annual check up with Dr. Eric, her vet for her entire life, and he told me that Lilly was dying. My heart sank into my stomach, my darling friend, the best friend I had ever had, my husbands friend, my toddlers best friend, my Little Lilly of the Valley was dying. I wrapped my arms around my frail friend, she wagged her tail and snuggled into me as if to say, "Thank you for the adventures. I love you mommy." I nodded to Eric, it was time. He took her into the back and made her comfortable, he asked me if I wanted to go but I couldn't. I asked him to hold her, he loved her, she had been his patient since he graduated from college, I knew he would hold her. I sat in the room and waited, I cried hard. My sister and I held each other as I cried over the loss of my best friend.
That same year Buster also passed away, he was laying in my sisters lap on the couch and fell asleep then never awoke. He was heartbroken when Lilly died, we all were. Buster and Lilly were cremated and buried under their favorite maple tree in the backyard.
Written in memory of Little Lilly of the Valley
Born January 15,1996
Died January 15, 2008
In my Heart Forever.