Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Good Night, Sweet Girl and Happy Birthday
"Good night, Sweet Girl" I said every night for 11 years and three months to my darling Nilla. Today would be her 12th birthday. It's her very first birthday across the Rainbow Bridge.
Vanilla was a gangly 10 month old papered Great Pyrenees I adopted from an ostrich farm outside of Willcox, AZ. She had been born in Ohio, taken to Arizona;then, her family couldn't understand how she'd get over the three foot cyclone yard fence at night to join other neighborhood dogs in nightly forays. (She could step over that fence!)
Great Pyrenees are gentle giants, well known for their sheep-tending abilities. When I got her, I didn't yet have sheep, but I did have an old collie, Chess, whose hat was posted earlier. I'd told Chess that he had a sister coming home. He met us at the gate. They sniffed each other, he showed her the yard. Then I opened the door;and I couldn't believe it! Chess took Nilla into every room. He jumped up on the couch. She jumped up on the couch. He took her into the bedroom and jumped up on the bed. She jumped up on the bed. (He wasn't really allowed either place.) He took her into the second bedroom, then the bathroom, then the dining room, then into the kitchen and showed her the food and water. I was laughing so hard I could hardly hold it in. At dinner the first night I showed her she had to sit during grace. She not only sat, but crossed her front paws...and did for the rest of her life. It is said that Great Pyrs have long backs and cannot sit up to beg, but Nilla did.
Two years later we got Sugar and Sweetheart, the Jacob x Cormo twins and Nilla was their hero. She would run along the fence line to chase the cattle trucks that went by and would run another fence line to chase the coyotes that would walk the streets at night. She mourned for weeks when Chess died at 14.
Great Pyrs 'blow' their coat, and Nilla was no different. Nilla fur everywhere. I brushed her a lot and she loved it. Her fur I spun, too, and knit this hat from it.
In the picture along with her hat is her collar and tags. When I got it out of the drawer, Tawny our collie came running and sniffed at the collar intensely.
When we had to move back East, Nilla came, too, of course. Everyone we knew came by to say goodbye to Nilla, saying she had the sweetest face. She did. She rode in the cab of the UHaul with us. When we'd stop for meals at Cracker Barrels, we'd see people pointing and laughing at the truck. The first time, we wondered...what? Then we knew. She'd moved into the driver's seat and turned on the turn signal. She did it the whole trip.
Arriving in Pennsylvania she was just happy to have more friends. She was now retired from guarding her sheep and became a couch potato the last three years of her life. But she did perk up and run through the yard when an occasional cattle truck drove the Four Way. And got really excited several times an Eastern Coyote howled in the distance.
She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this past February 13th. Nilla's having a wonderful time with Chess and will greet us and show us around someday when we cross.
Good Night, Sweet Girl and Happy Birthday.