Ode to Stony. Sudden loss of a Beloved Dog.
Our house is filled with so much sadness right now. Our poor dogs, they just don’t know what to do. Stewart, Stony’s son was up much of the night. He just kept standing in my room, looking around. He would then get on the bed, but just sit there. He would lie down next to me so I could hug him, but then he would sit again, then lie down, then get off the bed and just stand there. I feel so sad for him. This morning, Rowan picked up Stony’s bone and carried it around. He NEVER does this. Even Fergus and Olive are quiet (I guess I can take advantage of that). They are just lying around chewing bones. Everyone is sad.
Stony was a gift. She was a granddaughter of our Morgan. She was bred by our good friend, Deirdre and she was a much awaited puppy. I could not wait to get her. Her mother was Morgan’s daughter and her father was a hunk of a dog I had loved from the moment I met him.
She was such an easy puppy to raise. She never got into trouble and was just a real treat. She was beautiful and funny. Every morning she would wake up, grab her bone and trot around the house. She would circle around, grrring and smiling and wagging her tail. If you took her bone, she would stop and just stand there, you gave it back and she would continue on her way. We called her bone her “key” as it seemed to turn her on and turn her off.She had the best circle tail. When she was happy she wagged her tail in circles. She was just so cute.
Stony loved to do whatever we did. She LOVED to train and she LOVED to hike and swim. She would swim to retrieve and she would swim just to swim. If we walked the river bed, she would swim while we hiked. She just stayed in the water and rarely got out. She was a “Gold” fish for sure. Stony had many years of enjoying hiking and swimming. We had a brief interruption when she chased a deer and we had to get back into training to work on recalls as we had no intentions on keeping her on leash for the rest of her life. She was a free spirit and deserved to be free…as long as she was not hunting and getting lost.
She was so freaking cute. She weighed 52 pounds and was 20 inches tall. A very short and stocky girl with a beautiful face.
Stony finished her Can. Championship in one weekend. She was 6 years old. We had just never gotten to it. We finished her even though we knew we would never breed her again. She had just been diagnosed with cataracts. But the original reason for not wanting to breed her again was that she was not all that into motherhood. Stony had one litter. We bred her to a lovely import and had a lovely litter of 8 puppies. Stony’s whelping went fairly easily, but she soon wanted nothing to do with her puppies. We would let her outside and she would grab a ball and ask us to play fetch with her. This was right after whelping. She could hear the pups inside calling to her and she wanted her tennis ball instead.She managed to raise this litter, but she was a less-than-stellar mother. She did the minimum. We were lucky to have a great group of dogs to help raise the litter with her and she had no complaints and was very welcoming of the help.
After that experience, we thought we could try again. But then we kept thinking…she did not want to be a mother. If we bred her again, it would have been for us, not for Stony in any way. We respected and loved her too much for that.
Stony was an amazing retriever. She would retrieve all day if we let her. She was not obsessed, but she was insistent. And, she was fast. Stony was short and stocky and as strong as they come. She could beat her kids to the ball up until about a year ago. At that point, I started to toss her, her own ball. I never wanted her to feel like the youngsters could beat their mom.
Stony’s very best friend was Rowan. She loved him and allowed him to do whatever he wanted. She played with him, she humped him after dinner and hikes (he was so good to indulge her). They slept near each other andwere such good friends. It was a beautiful relationship. Stony in general was a very independent dog. She had little use for other dogs. She had no issues with them and did not dislike dogs by any means, but she just didn’t seem to form a lot of friendships with other dogs. She really was her own dog and had her own agenda. But Rowan was special to her.
About a year ago she started to lose her hearing. We then began calling her Mrs. Magoo. She would go off on a path down the driveway or head to the fields and we couldn’t call her. Even clapping was not heard when outdoors. We would have to trail behind her until we caught up and could tap her butt to get her to turn around. She would give us this look like “What is your problem, I was just going for a walk!”
Stony generally liked to sleep right next to me on the bed. But in the past couple of months, she seemed to have a hard time getting on the bed sometimes. I think it was more sight than physical discomfort. But, as long as I knew she wanted to get up, I would pick her up and then she would lie next to me for most of the night. I started to worry this week that if she wanted up, I would not see her as I would be sleeping. I put a nice loveseat in my room so she could have real comfort if needed. The past two nights before she died I have woken to Stony sleeping soundly on the loveseat.
I have to thank Stony for being the ruler of the house.Stony could stop a dog in its track with just a look. She could keep all of the boys huddled in a corner if she wanted to, and all she had to do was just look at them. She was a fair ruler in general. Stony and Finlay never loved each other. It stemmed from the fact that Stony was #1 and Finlay wanted that position in a bad way. We knew he would never be ruler, he was not all that fair and a bit too pushy. But, it was his dream. Stony had to slap him around every now and then to let him know she was still the boss. This happened in the kitchen usually, when she was watching one of us cook and Finlay would just wander by sniffing. However, he would not pay attention and sniff his way until he was standing under her. She never felt this was good manners and would give him a good whack, which always scared the hell out of him. We did need to tell her that murdering the beagle was unacceptable, even though we understood why she felt the need.
But it was weird because when it came to comfort, Stony and Finlay always called a truce. They both loved one particular chair to lie in and if either one was in it, the other was allowed to get up and cuddle. We could never understand it. It was like they gave each other permission. Well, it is more like Stony gave Finlay permission to cuddle with her. And Finlay knew that if Stony wanted the chair and he was already on it, that he better share.
Yesterday morning Stony wanted in her chair. But she just stood, looking at it. I knew something was going on, but I helped her into her chair. She sat and would not lie down. I knew. I helped her lie down and she got fairly comfortable. Finlay then jumped into the chair and looked at her. He started to put his paw up on her back (he always lied on top of her if possible…go figure) and then backed off. He tried again, then backed off. He then just lied carefully next to her, rested his paw gently on her and then rested his head on her back. He knew.
A little while later, I asked the dogs if they wanted to go out. They came to the door. Stony did not join us. I gave her the hand signal for “hey, let’s go”. She got up and came to the door. The dogs went out, she just stood there. I propped the door open and walked into the yard. She stood and looked. She would not come out. I knew. A few days earlier she had had some sort of episodes. We didn’t know it then, though we suspected it, but she was likely bleeding out very slowly. I saw the look in her eye and I got onto the phone with my vet. We had already decided that we would not medicate her or put her through diagnostics. We knew that Stony had lived a fantastic life and that she had the right to go quickly, without having things dragged out by tests and meds. As I was on the phone talking to my vet’s office, Stony seized up, got stiff and I hung up the phone. I helped her into a lying position as she started to collapse to the floor. I held her for a few minutes and talked to her. She put her head down. I thought she was going to die right there. I waited. A few minutes later she picked up her head. I called the vet back and as I was on the phone, I watched Bergen, Stony’s daughter walk up to her mom, lick her face and the lie down facing her. Bergen then reached forward and put her paws on Stony’s paws. She knew. Rowan and Stewart came and stayed near. They all knew.
I picked Stony up and put her into the car. My thought was that I would have the vet look at her and tell me what he thought was going on. And I thought she might snap out of it. She had a similar episode two days earlier and she came out of it. I wanted that to be the case this time. But I knew. The whole time I was thinking that I would not allow her to die at the vet. I would bring her home and have the vet come to our house. If possible, our dogs are let go at home, where they are surrounded by us and the other dogs, their whole family.
Rowan came with us to the vet. I felt if Stony needed any support from a pack member, he would be the one.
Stacey met me at the vet. She had herbs that may help Stony and I thought we could try them, it couldn’t hurt. She was also Stony’s special Auntie. She has known Stony from birth. And this was no ordinary vet visit. As I drove in, I kept looking back at Stony and I could see she was not really with us. When I parked, I opened the door to the van and I saw the life draining from her. She was leaving. She was still lying somewhat upright, but I could see years drain out of her. I knew.
Judy, our very close friend who is also a vet tech at our vet hospital came out to tell us we could come in now. I knew we would not be going in the building. I asked Judy to bring our vet, Troy to the van. She did. Troy confirmed what I already knew. Stony was dying. She was likely bleeding out. We worried she was in pain as she was having contractions in her belly, much like when a dog gives birth.
I asked for a few minutes so I could contact Marybeth and my mom. They both showed up 15 minutes later and about 15 minutes after that Troy and Judy came out to the van.
Stony was surrounded by love. I was there, Mb, mom, Stacey, Judy and Troy were all there. And most importantly, Rowan was there. There was no lack of love and no lack of gratitude for who she was and what she gave to this world. It was peaceful and it was time. Rowan kept his face right next to Stony’s. He knew. He knew she was leaving. He had seen this before and he had comforted others as they have left.
When I got home, Rowan would not get out of the van. I encouraged him and then he stood there and just looked at me. He was so sad. I knelt down next to him and hugged him. I told him that it would be ok and I thanked him for being Stony’s best friend. I went toward the house and he joined me. We were met by Stony’s kids, Bergen and Stewart and also Finlay. They knew. I talked to them. I sat with them on the couch. We hugged. I cried. I then brought them to the field. It was our first walk without Stony and it felt wrong. Entering the field was very difficult. But we did it and we walked and walked and walked. They eventually stopped and dipped in the brook. I then sat on a rock in the middle of the field and the sun came out. They all sat next to me, pushing against me. We sat. I cried. They grieved. We all comforted each other.
I am so grateful that Stony lived such a full and happy life, right up until the end. I am so grateful for Stony. For who she was and how she was and what she was. I miss her so much but I feel so honored she chose me.
Thank you to my sweet and funny Stony Bologna Rigatoni Macaroni, the Pony, the Pony Pony for everything. I will love you forever.