There comes a time when dogs get old. It creeps up on you. Twelve years. My Ebony Anne has been an obedient, patient old soul. Her sleek black hair shone in the sun. She never had much time to stand still for brushing though. She was a fast learner. It never took much to house-train her, she just kind of caught on. She was polite and timid.
She never ate anybody’s shoes when she was inside. Ebony wouldn’t bark at people she didn’t know when they came in the yard. But if someone she did know came, she sure barked to get attention. She was a shy dog. Afraid of cats. Wanted to make friends with most other animals and never dreamed of attacking them. Little dogs a fraction of her size could go after her jugular and she was surprised. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. I’ve never heard her growl. Not exactly a watch dog. When we had the boys’ cats in the house for a couple years, she stood still and the cats would be extremely ticked off. She’d look at them longingly wanting them to play and they would hiss and run away.
Ebony was afraid of floors. Seriously would not walk on our laminate wood floor in the kitchen. I’d sit on the floor with a treat in my hand to get her to cross it, and then she would back her way out, shaking all the way. She didn’t seem to know how to relax and just walk on her pads. That could have something to do with the laundry door incident.
One time my two sons and their friend Justin coaxed her across the kitchen floor into the living room. Now she was trapped on the carpet and had to cross the kitchen floor again to get out. She began walking on the laminate and got really nervous, so she picked up speed. She slid into the laundry room door hard and fast, clonking her head. She scared herself to death and she ran out shaking into the backroom. All three of them were rolling on the floor laughing their heads off. I wasn’t home or I would have come to her rescue. Poor Ebs.
Ebony was afraid of water. Yes, a black pure-bred Lab, scared of baths. She had to be placed in a tub of water outside, leashed and held tight by a strong hand. James used to get into the kiddie pool with her to give her a bath outside. When I took her for a beach walk, she would go a couple feet into the water and then jump back out. In later years when I took her to the pet supply store for a bath she’d dig her heels in a paralyzing position, requiring two of us to accomplish a bath. She’d be shaking the whole time but also wagging her tail.
She was an anxious dog. If Ebony was in the house, she’d lay down on the floor if you were perfectly still but if you even moved your arm, she would be on alert. If you got up to do something, she’d be right there on your heels wagging her tail.
Her eyes were bright and expectant and her hair so shiny black. It seemed that she smiled at you. We laughed at how her tail would hit the wall so hard it was lethal. If you sat on the floor next to her, she couldn’t get close enough, until she was on top of you. If you rubbed her stomach, she rolled on her back expecting you to do it all day.
She liked to take walks, but never in twelve years has she gotten used to having a halti harness on. She fought it every time I walked her. When you’d pause in the slightest, she would rub her nose on the ground trying to get it off. But if you didn’t have the halti on, she would walk you, instead of the other way around. It was practically impossible to walk her without it on-you would get dragged every which way.
How she loved those walks with the family down in the gullies. She would run ahead and explore, circle back and around and up and down the steep hills. Often she’d walk with me down the railroad tracks behind our house. Sniffing and searching, coming back to greet me and off again. She listened to me pray, cry, talk, yell, or complain. She never minded a bit. She loved people and was happy if she was included in any activity.
Taking her to the vet was a trip. She’d smell the place and didn’t want to get out of the car. I’d drag her in through the two doors, she’d cower by the scale afraid to step onto it. While in the waiting room she’d be afraid of cats and dogs much smaller than she was. When in the examination room she’d tremble by the door and the vet had to come to her.
She was an outside dog the majority of her years. In the country, Cliff and the boys made her a doghouse which matched our house, made with the leftover tan siding. It was cute. But for some odd reason, Ebony kept chewing that siding off her insulated doghouse one by one until it was all off. Cliff would not put any new siding on. He said it was her fault. She would also get tangled around the end of the zip-line poles and sometimes we’d come home and there she was laying by the pole, unable to move. She’d wait patiently for us to come home from boating, snowmobiling, school, or the endless activities we had. Cliff wasn’t exactly in love with her and our boat was definitely a no-dog zone.
On hot summer days, often I’d fill a kiddie pool with water and drag it out next to her doghouse. She wouldn’t go in it of course. She’d tentatively take a couple steps and drank some water, if no one was looking. When I’d spray out the garage floor, she would stand behind me or explore something out of the range of the hose. She was so afraid we would spray her. I wonder if the boys tormented her when she was young when mom wasn’t around?
She learned a couple tricks following hand commands. Ebony would sit. She would lay down but only stayed there a half second because she was so excited. Even when she was older and stayed at her second family for a couple years, the kids taught her to speak and handshake. She was always so hungry and the treats would tempt her to do about anything. When someone would throw a tennis ball with the “chuck-it” she would run and run for hours. When she thought it went down the gullies she would search for an hour until she found the tennis ball. She would not give up even if she had to go all the way down the very steep and deep gully. You could even fake her out and pretend you threw a tennis ball and she’d go searching for it. So funny.
Often Ebony would get a ride in the car. She would lay down in the passenger side floor, and curl up her tail carefully so it wouldn’t get caught in the door. She always laid her head on the shifter to watch me. One time when I was driving along the car was suddenly making a strange noise. Turns out that Ebony put me into neutral.
When Ebony was a puppy, we began throwing a plastic water bottle or a milk jug, when we sat on the pool deck. She chased it, stumbling into or over it, she’d miss the bottle and roll, landing on her nose. We would all laugh so hard. The boys would often throw a ball from the deck or pool. She’d jump off the end of the deck with a huge leap and bring that ball to the edge of the pool. She’d want to tease and not give the ball completely back. Sometimes dropped it in the pool by accident though and then she’d have to wait until the filter made the water circulate and she could grab it again. She even pawed at the water to draw the ball back her way. One time Andrew had to haul her out of the pool because she fell in while trying to reach the ball. When the boys had friends over to play soccer on the field, she was in her glory with all those boys who came specifically to play with her.
Sometimes Ebony would bark at night if she heard coyotes or was spooked about something. Sometimes I’d go out there in my bathrobe to try to figure out what was bothering her. She’d stop barking for a time, and then resume barking when we were trying to sleep. If any of us were outside for any reason or walking to the barn, she’d bark wanting to be part of the action.
She ate Cliff’s little Japanese maple tree one time….he’s never forgiven her for that. He never did like her much and that sealed the deal. I don’t know what got into her. She was playing outside with James once when he was a boy. She went over to the little tree and just decided it was her enemy. When James came back outside he was afraid his dad would be mad. He got some duct tape and taped the whole top half of the tree back on. It worked for a couple days until Cliff looked a little closer. Oh well, she wasn’t perfect.
Lately Ebony’s slow. In the last year we could notice it coming on. In the last few weeks she doesn’t have her voracious appetite anymore. I brought her to the vet last week and he said she wasn’t in pain. She has had achy legs and a swallowing/breathing problem of some kind. She’s losing weight. Her eyes are turning dim and cloudy, lots of gray showing through her black shiny hair. My Ebony-girl still conjures up some energy to run to meet me, wagging her tail, looking at me expectantly. She still seems to smile at me.
So cute how she hopped into Andrew’s car just yesterday, wanting to be included. I’ve never had a dog get old before. I’m not eccentric and consider her to be a daughter, but I do care for her. I’m not going to spend thousands to extend her life a little, but she’s not bad enough to be put down. I don’t like these “old dog decisions…”
It won’t be long now Ebs. Soon I won’t be able to look into your big, dark chocolate-brown eyes. You’ve been faithful and patient. You go down as an exceptional dog. I know that God loves animals because he created them, and he also let a pair of each kind go into the Arc with Noah to save them from the flood. I have to believe there’s a special section reserved for you in the skies.
Love you Ebony Anne.