“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Appropriately, the name Abby means “Gives Joy.”
Abby came to us in 2011 as a client needing walks during the day – one of our first clients when my partner and I started ‘Heather & Pooch’ (now Cuddles & Fetch).
Abby’s original owners, Danielle and Ron are conscientious, generous and caring people, whom loved their dog immensely. She led an active life of cottages, long walks, hikes and canoe trips. Abby loved to run, to chase, and to play. Abby always had this ‘spark’ in her eyes and her smile that everyone could tell was her way of letting you know she was happy.
Abby did really well on the walks, and bonded very early on with our own dog, Gemma. However, Abby and her family had just gone through a big change, and Abby wasn’t adjusting well to living in a condo. The noises in the hallways, thunderstorms, noises from the building shifting – all of it seemed to set Abby on edge, especially when she was alone.
Over the next few years, we identified Abby’s isolation distress, and slowly began to take over her care – Her owner would drop her off in the mornings so she could spend half the day with us, and that seemed to work for awhile. Then she started destroying tubs and coffee tables, and we started taking her for the whole day.
A lot of things culminated around the same time – we lost Goliath, and Abby’s issues in the condo seemed to be worsening. We had also begun our search for a country property, to move our business to boarding full-time. Her owners were torn, not knowing what to do, and without hesitation we offered to take her with us. Abby was practically family at this point, and she was doing a lot to fill the hole left behind by our big ol’ bear.
One of my favourite memories of this time, is when we took Abby & Gemma with us on a road trip to the East Coast. We drove from Toronto to P.E.I, and around Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and through Quebec in our little Honda Element. We stayed in pet-friendly motels and cabins. But the best moment was taking her with us to go horse-back riding. She was finally ‘herding’ these big animals, and loving it, chasing along side us as we rode along the hilly coast of Cape Breton. I don’t think I’ve seen her happier than in that moment.
Abby’s owners decided to make the personal sacrifice for her happiness, and let us take over her care full time. We moved to Warkworth Ontario, on a property with 65 acres of woodland, and Abby thrived.
Abby became our time keeper – waking us up early in the morning when it was definitely time to go out, bossily barking when it was time for her breakfast, and making sure we knew it was time for dinner about a half hour before it was actually time for dinner. Despite her arthritis and age, Abby was the happiest running through the woods, chasing squirrels, smelling the tracks for deer, and hunting rabbits. Her proudest days were the ones she came back with a half a rabbit, and a deer leg. 14 years old and she pranced home with that leg in her mouth, tail up and full of smiles.
The next few years, she was never on leash – patrolling the edges of our fenced yard, or exploring our property, we always knew that she knew how to get back to the house when she went rogue. Her hearing failing and her eyesight fading, nothing slowed her down. She’d disappear at the beginning of a walk, and then she’d come running up behind us like a puppy. “Make way for Abby!” we’d laugh. We remained in touch with Abby’s first family and they had the chance to visit Abby over the years after we moved from the city.
As Abby approached 15, we noticed that she was starting to slow down. In the last week her health declined rapidly. The vets did their best to help find a cause of her symptoms, but there was nothing obvious to find.We made the heartbreaking decision that Abby was telling us that she was ready to go.
On Thursday, December 20th, we took her north to have one last day in the snow, one of her favourite things, and fed her treats, gave her a little groom and a lot of attention. And we gave her the last gift we could give her, and let her move on to the Rainbow Bridge.
Thank you, Abby. For all the joy you gave us. For the adventures, and the laughs, and keeping us on track. Though your passing has carved us all with deep sorrow, I know that in some way, you’re giving us new depths to fill with happiness later on.
Rest In Peace. I miss you, and I’ll see you on the Bridge.