Eight years ago, a two-year-old female Doberman was found walking aimlessly about, and was brought to the SPCA. She had been abandoned. The SPCA called us. We took her in and named her Gaia [Guy’ ah]. As each snowflake has its shadow, and every bird its song, Gaia had her temperament which was mild; thus, she fit in well with our five rescue Dobies.
Although there are no formal arrangements, written or spoken, when my Sabrina and I take in a rescue, there are certain assumptions from us to them, not unlike wedding vows: From this day forward; … in sickness and in health; … to love and to cherish… ‘’til Death do us part.
Over the years, we have learned that Dobermans provide companionship, joy, and a constant protective surveillance. It comes with the breed. That’s their side of the agreement.
Monday morning last, Sabrina and I had six Dobermans. By nightfall we had but five.
Some months back, we noted Gaia’s sureness of foot begin to falter, ever so slowly. Some days were better, some worse. She could still run, but not as far or well. Her spinal cord was being gathered in a crippling, pitiless embrace.
We compensated with medicines, vet evaluations, and supervised activity, but in the two preceding days, her symptoms became abruptly worse. She still wagged her tail happily and displayed an unfailing appetite, but now, she needed a harness to rise, or to move any distance. We called Diane, one of our vet friends. She knew Gaia.
It is an up-ending perversity that sometimes Love must summon Mercy, and Mercy must say, “No more.”
Gaia had to be freed from her paralysis, and Sabrina and I could not go with her. But under no other circumstances would we send her off alone.
Diane, Sabrina, and I knelt around Gaia, watching the medicine coax Gaia into painless sleep. Our oldest Dobie, Jax, moved into our group, and gently licked away the tears on Sabrina’s and Diane’s face. Napoleon, our cat, came and lay down next to Gaia’s nose. When more tears came, he put his paw on Sabrina’s bended knee.
They give you a working set of legs where Gaia is now, and that’s only right. She was a good girl. We miss her.
If you love hard, you grieve hard; that’s just how it is. But this also I will say about Gaia: her agreement was fully honored and every promise kept… Paid in Full.