Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sad News

Well, I think I'm finally ready to post about this.... This has been a pretty cruddy couple of weeks.

We were absolutely crushed just two weeks ago when Alena's splendid rescue dog Lucrezia was killed. Lucrezia was in her fenced backyard when Alena checked on her through the window. A half-hour or so later, Alena went to bring her inside and the dog was missing. Alena and I rode about the area on bikes, calling for her, but she was found just at the edge of Alena's front yard....

We were able to reconstruct what had happened pretty nearly, as the evidence was clear. An oppossum had come just outside the fenced yard and attracted Lucrezia's attention. We're guessing the possum played dead rather than retreating from the dog rushing the fence, as obviously it stayed there a while -- long enough for Lucrezia to completely dismantle the fence. I built this fence myself, a wooden picket fence backed with 2x2" welded wire to prevent dog noses or legs slipping through the pickets. Lucrezia completely removed SIX pickets and broke an additional THREE, and then she ripped and bent the wire until she could escape -- all without Alena ever hearing her bark. Apparently she was too high in her pursuit to even vocalize.... True predators don't bark to warn their prey.

She wriggled free of the yard, killed the possum and left it beside the fence, and then most likely took off across the yard to a favorite squirrel haunt. The squirrels like a tree just beyond a brushy extension to the road; Lucrezia would have burst around the brush into the street without anyone being able to see her coming. We're pretty sure she was killed instantly.

Lucrezia was a great dog. Alena and I couldn't believe she'd escaped the yard; she was always such a great respecter of boundaries. We'd literally drop a string across a threshold and tell her it was a gate, and she'd wait politely behind it. But an oppossum lying continuously outside her fence was apparently too much to bear.

A week later, my old horse Peppy took a sudden turn for the worse. He'd cut a tendon in the pasture five weeks before and was given only a 60-70% chance of living even after the surgery at Purdue; however, he seemed to recover just fine and everyone was thrilled. He never fully came back, though, and he returned to Purdue for a few odd symptoms that had nothing to do with the original injury. We'd tentatively decided on early symptoms of Cushings when he started having problems with his leg again, and in the end he seemed to have an infection in the tendon sheath. I didn't want his last days to be full of medical experimentation and stress, so we let him go last Wednesday.

Peppy was only 24, a young 'un as our last two horses were lost at 34 and 36. He was an accomplished show horse in his day, but he'd earned the right to serve as an equine lawn mower in his later years. He had so much personality and was so lovely to handle through his convalescence; even the Purdue staff loved and nicknamed him. It's hard to find horses like Peppy.

I've been a little hyper-protective of my critters of late; I walked out and closed the front gate before moving Laev from the kennel to my car, "just in case." The best training in the world can fail once, and sometimes once is all it takes -- Lucrezia had never in her life crossed a barrier, even one that was only a chalk line on the floor, before escaping Alena's yard that day.

Somebody said last week that Shakespeare was looking old. No, he's not. He's only six, nearly seven. That's not old. He's got years left. They should live forever....


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about Lucrezia and Peppy! But glad you had a chance to say goodbye at least to Peppy.

Lucrezia was Marley's first role model at his very first puppy class. She was such a lovely dog and obviously adored Alena. Please give your sis my condolences too.


Melissa Alexander said...

They *should* live forever. It sucks that they don't.

I really am sorry, Laura. I'm glad you and Alena have each other.