A Good Friend Died Today

This morning I took a walk up the hill to the Pueblo and was going to write about that, but when I got back to the house I got this email from my friend Stephen in Fort Lauderdale.

“Richard, about 10:30 AM Penny went outside, an hour and a half later Kevin went outside to call her in, upon her not responding he went over to her and realized she had died.

“I was at the house yesterday with Kevin and Paul, who said that Penny hadn’t eaten anything all week.  We were discussing that if she continued like that she would surely die.  Sadly, I guess we were right.  Kevin said, it appeared as though she didn’t suffer at all.

“Services will be held this afternoon at her home.  Kevin will save her tags and we will bring them to you when we visit.
“Sorrowfully
“Stephan”

She was one of a kind. I know all people say that about their dogs, but she really was. I rescued her from the puppy prison back in ’96. She was about a year or two old then.

People would ask me what kind of a dog she was. Well, she was too unique to just call her a mutt so I’d say she was a rooftop terrier. “What’s that?” they’d ask, and I’d tell them it was the kind of terrier that lived on the cabin roof of my boat.

When she was young she was absolutely fearless about so many things. Around the marina where we lived were huge blue land crabs and Penny delighted in killing them.

They’d bite her on the nose but she’d just shake them off and bother them until she was able to flip them on their backs. Then she’d proceed to bite their legs off. I used to find the poor things around the yard with only one or two legs left and have to dispatch them. If she found one in a corner of the shop one morning then every morning for a week afterward the first thing she’d do when we got to work was to check out the same corner expecting to find another one.

On the other hand there were some things that absolutely terrified her. Leather for instance. I think she had been abused by her previous owners and I’m sure they had kids who did things to her they shouldn’t have. For some reason there was a baseball glove at the shop. Stephen and I called it “The Big Hand.” All you’d have to do was pick it up and call her attention to you. She’d see that glove and flee. Once my ex girlfriend bought me a pair of black shoes and Penny wouldn’t come near me when I was wearing them for at least a month after I got them.

If you read some of my earlier stories about her you’ll know how she dealt with a couple of people who used to come to the yard often who didn’t like her.

In the last year or so she had trouble with her hind quarters and I’d often have to lift her up until she was able to get her legs situated under her. She was about 15 or 16 years old which is a pretty long life for a dog and she spent most of it with people who loved her. We and she were lucky to have known each other.

Mark Twain summed it up pretty good when he wrote:  “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.  The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”

Rest in peace my good friend.

Addendum

Penny was the second pound puppy I’ve had. The other one, Puddles (because when she was young she used to leave them around), could have been a litter-mate because they looked so much alike. I think the similarity between the two was what attracted me to Penny even though she was much bigger and younger than what I was looking for considering that I was living on a 25′ sailboat at the time.

Puddles, too, was a great dog. Blind and 12 years old when I got her in New Orleans, she was a terrific watch dog. She never barked at people passing the house. They could stop on the sidewalk outside and party if they wanted and she just ignored them. But put a hand on the gate and the furies were unleashed. Outside was the world…inside the gate was HERS, and she owned it. Puddles was about 18 when I had to put her down and it was the roughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’m glad Penny just went quietly and peacefully on her own and didn’t put Kevin through that horrible experience of putting a good friend down.

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2 responses to “A Good Friend Died Today

  1. I’m so sorry, Richard… shedding a tear or two here, myself.

    She was such an endearing creature, and you wrote about her with such affection and understanding I felt like I “knew” her.

    Mark Twain was a smart man.

    Thank you, Linda. She really was special. She’s the second pound puppy I’ve had. The other one, Puddles (because when she was young she used to leave them around), could have been a litter-mate because they looked so much alike. She, too, was a great dog. Blind and 12 years old when I got her in New Orleans, she was a terrific watch dog. She never barked at people passing the house. They could stop on the sidewalk outside and party if they wanted and she just ignored them. But put a hand on the gate and the furies were unleashed. Outside was the world…inside the gate was HERS, and she owned it. Puddles was about 18 when I had to put her down and it was the roughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

    Dogs are loyal to their owners without a doubt, but pound puppies are especially so. When they’re in there they know they’re in trouble and they are extremely grateful you got them out. Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they’re stupid. It was hard leaving her in Fort Lauderdale but for a lot of reasons I had to get down to Panama. I mean, after they say you can live here legally and then you aren’t in residence for a year they begin to question your commitment. So I had little choice. But she’d been living with my roommate for over three years and had a bond with Kevin, too. So it wasn’t like she’d been abandoned to strangers. It was, though, very hard to leave her. There were some tears on my last walk with her.

    Gone, but not forgotten. She was the source of some very good stories.

  2. What a lovely addendum to Penny’s story – and how great for both of you she had someone she knew to depend on after you left.

    I had a stray cat I befriended and took care of for about a year – “stray” in the sense that she lived outdoors. Once, when she’d disappeared for a longer-than-usual length of time, I made myself go over to the pound to see if she’d shown up there. She hadn’t, but it nearly tore me up. I wanted to take every single one of those animals home with me.

    I did feel better when the Director told me they have over an 80 per cent adoption rate. They really work at it, and one of these days I might begin doing a little light volunteering.

    Pound puppies are the only way to go as far as I’m concerned. There’s no reason for people to pay big bucks for a pet. Even at the shelters there are always a large number of pedigreed dogs there, but I’ve always loved the mutts. They’re generally smarter and have fewer health problems then the purebreds, too.