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Remembering Anna
Born May 4, 1988

In the summer of 1988 our family consisted of two adults, Evelyn and myself, and four older cats. Carrie, mine from before I married Evelyn, had to be kept separated from one of Evelyn’s three, who were in order of dominance Jessie, Gypsy and Peanut. This arrangement was permanent, awkward but acceptable, and harmony was maintained as long as Carrie was confined to our bedroom and the other three were kept out; she was and they were. 

Some time around the Fall of 1988, Evelyn read a notice posted on a bulletin board at work about the availability of some Siberian Husky puppies. We recently moved into a different home and were finally settling in. The sale of our other home and displacement to an apartment while searching for another, was physically and emotionally draining. Anyway, we were resilient then, that was behind us and we were ready for new adventures; or so we thought.

As with all major events, there is a beginning: Ours began in June of 1988 when, after three visits to the home where Anna and her siblings were born, we said we wanted to take Anna home with us: Not so simple folks! There was an adoption screening process that involved viewing a Husky video, a home visit, and completing an application that stipulated many requirements. We qualified to adopt her finally and arrangements to bring her home were made. By the way, the name Anna was chosen after the adoption; we referred to her as “her” or, once we became sure of our selection, “our girl”. There’s a saying, ‘Slow to name, slow to tame’, well, maybe, I don’t know.

Adoption day came; food, toys, eating utensils, collar, tag, leash, crate and bedding were all on hand for Anna’s arrival. We were as happy and proud as parents can be and we were eager to show her around her new home. We even had a song for her that we called the Anna Lucia song; really only a few notes but we greeted her in song whenever we went to her kennel. We’re not musicians but I’m sure we sounded terrific! In the early days of her puppy hood we delighted in being in her company, though that never changed, we became less enthralled and a tad more practical than before. Well, like many fun things, they end, and decisions about housebreaking, permanent sleeping arrangements, obedience training and discipline had to be made. We did the necessary stuff but we didn’t come to a decision about where she would spend her days, inside or outside, until several months later. By that time several things happened to influence our decision.

We had our share of the usual “accidents”, and upset stomachs, (poop, pee, and throw-ups) and we understood and always forgave. However, separation anxiety syndrome was new to us and the accompanying destructiveness was quite a surprise. We replaced chewed up couch cushions three times, repaired clawed carpeting three times, lost several pairs of women’s shoes and the cobbler saved some, swept up wood chips made from door moldings and thresholds, and threw away a succession of gate barricades that didn’t stand up to her very fine teeth! We were on the business end of a learning curve and didn’t know it. 

Well, we still had lots of undamaged house left and not much in the way of valuable furnishings so the above destruction didn’t matter much. Actually, we enjoyed telling our friends about her exploits because we felt our super-human tolerance was an example for all pet owners, and we enjoyed talking about our “child” with any one who’d listen. You see, Anna had many endearing qualities too and these persisted throughout her life. She could sing, some might say howl but it was a single note in the key of C and sounded like, Wooo, Woo Woo Woooo; she could empty a bowl of water very quickly by paddling the water with her two front feet (outside or inside!), loved spaghetti and pizza, all toppings except onions, just like her dad, and she would curl around my legs at my midday nap and lay her head on my thigh. We looked forward to napping together, it was our special time. Still, Evelyn and I thought Anna should be outside more than inside, and we began the transition.

During Anna’s inside period, we took in a stray mixed breed dog we called ‘Brown’, who lived outside in our backyard. They had visual contact with one another through the glass deck door as well as supervised physical contact from time to time. Except for some early minor confrontations, Brown and Anna became very close. We had an occasional pet name for Anna then, ‘Pig Dog’, which was how she looked after a digging session outside left her looking like a mud miner: We did a lot of clothes washing then! I don’t remember Anna’s “first night out” but it happened without any memorable trauma. Our three cats, Gypsy, Jessie and Peanut high-fived each other that night while Carrie, who lived exclusively in our bedroom seemed to ask, “Anna who?” when we told her what happened. The feline-three were tired of Anna’s water sports around the communal water dish and were looking forward to drier conditions in the kitchen! Anna was grown, out on her own, and with the exception of not having to do any of her own laundry, was just like a typical young person away from home in her own apartment! Sorta......

Anna’s medical history included a diagnosis of glaucoma at around age 18 months, and except for a serious decline in health in her 14th year; every thing in between was relatively unremarkable. The glaucoma caused the loss of vision in one eye, quarterly and then yearly checkups, an operation to implant a prosthesis, and a twice-daily eye drop medication for the rest of her life. Brown, her first companion, died suddenly and without warning but Lulu, our blind Catahoula Leopard dog, a third addition to the family a few years later, kept Anna company. Until the arrival of Joe a few years later, Anna and Lulu, the half-blind leading the blind, were an exclusive couple. About the time Joe arrived, Anna was in her senior years and Lulu, blind though she was, began to show signs of hierarchical ascension (simply, she wanted to be the pack leader). Two or three scary altercations with Anna was all it took before we brought Anna back inside for good.

Anna, now happily retired, had humbly insinuated herself in among the wee ones, who rank in order: Bob, the miniature poodle; Christy, the Shih Tzu (and by rights number one, but not being a type ‘A’ personality ranks second); Jim, the terrier mix; Anna and Tuffy the cat tied for 4th. The cats Carrie, Peanut, Gypsy and Jessie, in order, had passed on long before this. Another routine had become established, order was maintained and we were very thankful. Anna was the oldest and we hoped she’d be comfortable and happy for the remainder of her life; we were committed to ensuring she would be.

When the signs of Anna aging began to show, stiffness in her legs, hearing and eye sight failure, poor appetite e.g., we had more frequent consultations with her veterinarian. Cortisone shots, other pain relievers, canine-to-human diet change all helped to extend her quality of life awhile longer. She was declining. She was still huggable, and would raise her leg when her stomach was rubbed and sighed contentedly as if she was young again. Towards the end, after one or two visits to the vet, Evelyn and I knew the time was coming in which a decision would have to be made. The final week, Anna had a couple of good days and we were hopeful. Anna’s weight was 32 pounds, down from a normal of 48; she was pretty weak. She had trouble steadying herself when urinating and had virtually no appetite. To preserve her dignity and end her discomfort, we contacted the vet and got a strong sedative to administer to her before taking her to the clinic.

We sat with her at home, Evelyn and me, stroking her and saying her name and singing our Anna Lucia song, and then Evelyn gave her the injection. In just a few minutes she was fully unconscious. I took her to the clinic and stayed with her when the lethal injection was administered. She was like our first born; she was Anna, our girl. We love her, we miss her, and we will remember her always. Goodbye.

Died August 17, 2002

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