Yesterday, as E was playing outside with friends, she discovered that our dog, Angel, had curled up in the base of a hollow tree and passed away.
Angel was a gift from Minama and Bittaba for S's fifth birthday. In her "first life," she was beaten and confined to a small pen. When we chose her from a cage at the Metro pound, the man helping us said, "Well, I don't know. She's awfully skittish and not very comfortable around people but she's only got a day or two left, so let's try."
He brought her out and she proceeded to walk over to where we were seated on a bench and sit down beside me, facing out. It was as if she were already ours. Tears came to my eyes and we knew we'd found our dog.
She loved keeping the many critters in the woods away and was a wonderful guard dog. She would give a waring bark anytime anyone came up our drive (unless it was one of our cars. She never once barked when C came home.) However, she never was the kind of dog that wanted to run around and play too much. Love and security can only do so much...she came into this world among people that were just too mean for her to ever fully trust. To the end, she would sometimes flinch when we'd move to pet her.
Over the past year, taking care of the animals has become solely S's responsibility. He has never once complained or forgotten to feed them. Rain, wind, snow and ice...he has cared for them and it has been wonderful to watch them bond further with him.
C and I knew that Angel would be leaving us before too long even though nothing in particular was wrong with her. She just had a bad start in life and was aging quickly. We never really voiced this to the children and maybe we should have, but in their own ways, they noticed, too.
The children have taken the loss very hard, of course, as it's their first such experience. They've all cried themselves to sleep and we've been careful to snuggle with them a little extra.
The tree that Angel died in was the very one that she used to curl up in years ago when we first brought her home. She was smaller then and I'm not really sure how she managed to get in there one last time. As we were unable to take her out, she is now buried in the base of the tree which E has aptly named The Angel Tree.
A fitting tribute, I suppose, to a life which very well could have ended without notice eight years ago on a cold table in the pound...