First let me thank all of you for your kind words in our time of grief.  


What follows is a tribute to our dear girl. Of course we,  like everyone who has a pet, believe that ours was unique, and indeed she was.  Each of us believes with our whole heart that we have the best dog or cat or iguana in the entire world. And we are all right.


To have a wonderful companion from another species is a privilege. If we have enjoyed them for many years, we learn that each and every one is utterly different in personality.  They are all special.


Brandy was no exception. We first met “girly”, (for that was her second name) at a dog shelter. She was in a cage with at about three other litter mates. She was about three months old. As all the puppies struggled to push and climb over each other to get to the front,  my eyes found hers and an instant lock happened. She was pushed and shoved, but never took her eyes from mine. I knew she was the “one.”


Bear is a super “A” type dog. He was rough on the girl. He knocked her around, sending her tumbling head over hills more times than can be counted. She yelped in pain as he nipped at her for various infractions. She knew that a good ear-splitting yip would bring us hurrying to protect her from her stern brother.


She frankly adored him. She followed him all over the meadow and as she got up to size, they went on many a trip in their mile- sized stomping grounds. They learned to hunt together as an effective team. We will never forget the first rabbit she caught. She carried it proudly, and kept the skin as her “treasure” for weeks.


Once Parker shot a pheasant  a few hundred yards from the house, but we lost it coming down. Parker took one side of the creek and I the other, neither of us having any luck. Suddenly Brandy appeared, sitting quietly, holding the pheasant in her mouth. You could almost see her chuckle. “Hey what are you guys looking for? Me? I found this nice bird.”


Parker used to blade the lane in the early summer, smoothing it down. In their younger days, she and Bear would run along beside, up and down, from the top of the hill to the road. One day she went off to the creek that bisects the field and caught herself a muskrat. She carried it up and down the lane alongside the tractor three trips. You could see the pride in her face.


She was an oddly put together dog. She had a barrel of a body, with a too large head, and short legs. She couldn’t bend much. She looked fat, but she was nothing but muscle. She wasn’t fast like Bear; he could accelerate rapidly, she just had power and over a few hundred yards, her speed picked up so that she could keep up with him.  


One day Bear barreled into her, expecting her to go rolling, and he bounced off her. Her weight was now over his and her neck and chest muscles were hard as rocks. Things changed a bit after that. Bear was more wary, but she remained docile and subservient for the most part.


She did love food. Any kind and any time.  The day before she died, she pirouetted as she saw rib bones in Parker’s hand as he walked to the door. She always pirouetted for bones. Think dog chasing tail, but with her head held high, staring at her treat.


Her most single characteristic was an utter lack of belief that we could ever be angry with her. No matter how much you screamed, shook your fist, and uttered every “bad dog”  epithet you could imagine, she looked at you joyfully and with her tail wagging happily.


That was the picture I shall always hold. Her tail was never quiet. She was blessed with a nice long feathered tail and she often wagged it while eating or even getting a drink of water.


A couple of years ago, her and Bear raced into the fields after a rabbit. The field was full of beans and it was late, so they were nearly two feet high. As she raced down the rows, her nose to the ground, all one could see was that tail, moving along like a shark fin, between the beans.


Although she understood a lot of words,  she ignored any word that kept her from doing as she wished. She would plead dumb. For a good while we thought perhaps she wasn’t too bright, Bear setting such a high standard in that regard, but careful watching proved otherwise.


A “B” dog frankly is often smarter than the “A” dog, and I suspect Brandy was no exception. They are forced to plan out an intricate series of steps to get their way. 


For a while, we had a loveseat in the living room with broken springs, so we let the dogs lie upon it. Only one could fit at a time. Brandy would lie on the floor watching Bear luxuriate in the soft “bed.” She could, of course, not force him off.  Here was her plan:


First she asked to go outside. After about five minutes, she let out a howl, that was known to all as “WE HAVE AN INTRUDER!”  Bear would jump up and run to the door. Once out, she would stare off in some direction, continuing to growl and yip.  Sooner or later, he would head off in search of the raccoon or deer dumb enough to enter “our” land.


Quietly and carefully, Brandy would hang back, then trot up the stairs of the porch, come in, and look at the loveseat. “Nobody seems to be occupying this,” she seemed to say. Up she would go, settling in and smiling to herself.


She pulled that trick on him dozens of times.


She loved her vehicles. All of them. She loved to ride. She loved to sit up front and view the passing world. She had a car ride the day before she died.


She never had a bad day. She thought she lived in the best place on earth. She thought she had the best “parents” ever. She never held a grudge for even a second, never thought an inadvertent slap on the butt was anything but an accident, never growled in anger at either of us.


She was patient. She would watch the cats at their milk, and the minute they walked away, she tiptoed into the kitchen. She never headed right for it, but ostensibly was headed toward the water. She seemed to whistle, “oh don’t mind me, I’m not heading for that milk. No not me.”  You were almost sure she looked out of the corner of her eye, and “whoa, there is milk here. Better not let it go to waste!”


We’ve been remembering all the fun stories about her today. How she loved to swim in the Wapsi, and how she loved rawhide bones.


She was never sick, never sad. She was the most joyous animal I’ve ever known. She was our “girlie” and we loved her, and we miss her. The house seems simply wrong. Her dish and rawhide bones mark her grave. I had a nice visit this morning as I took them up. There were tears, but finally we just talked about her meadow and what a nice view there was.


She granted us who loved her, a long life, and a death that was quick, easy and without suffering. She was simply fine one day, and leaving us the next. In her final hour, we both had the privilege to sit with her, petting her and talking of our love for her. She was not frightened, and in no discomfort. She was just worn out. I kissed her forehead and our eyes met as on that first day. Our bond remained.


I don’t know as I believe that our animals go to any “heaven” but I believe that the intelligent essence of them somehow continues in some form. She is running in a meadow chasing a rabbit, rolling around in the prairie grasses scratching her back and laughing at the clouds.


Brandy, my baby girl, we will always remember you. You brought out the very best in all of us.