A Lick Hello, A Lick Goodbye

An hour’s drive from my home is a place called the Anderson Jockey Lot. I don’t know that it still is, but this flea market was once the largest in the southeast. As a child, I vividly recall spending many Sunday afternoons wandering past vendor after vendor, seeking the newest must-have item.

Although I’m sure I wasted many a dollar on untold and long forgotten treasures, there’s only been one true treasure to come out of that place.

My Bella – the Jockey Lot Princess.

She was the first major purchase the Husband and I made together. She picked the weaker of us – him, of course – and applied her magical skills to win him over. Okay, he was easy.

I, on the other hand, was not easy. I suggested we walk away, think about it. So we did. But he convinced me to go back for just one more look.

As she once again settled into his arms, she peered over his shoulder at me. I tried to avoid looking into those big brown eyes. Then, he encouraged me to pet her. Reluctantly, I stepped forward and lifted my hand. Before I had a chance to touch her, she laid her little paw on my wrist and promptly licked me on the nose.

For 13 years, Bella was an integral part of our lives. As a former employee in social services, I can say without any reservations, she was treated better than many of the precious children in our world. She was educated, well fed, had her own kennel and toys, and was the center of attention. She was the alpha dog, keeping our other canine kid, Andre, in line.

She was a smart dog. She knew the names of each of her toys and could bring the correct one - when it pleased her to do so. She barked to let us know how many cookies she wanted. She lit up at the mention of Grandma, turkey, and her vet’s name. She loved to visit the Carl Sandburg historic site where we often took her hiking and allowed all ten pounds of her to torture the goats residing on the property.

We have a lifetime of memories that will always bring a smile.

In December 2012, Bella became ill suddenly and was diagnosed with onset of congestive heart failure. On December 5, we took her home from the emergency clinic in hopes that being at home would lift her spirits, giving us more time with her. But, it was to be the last night we'd have with her. Her kidneys were failing and her body was rejecting her medicines, the very ones that could give her a quality of life. The last few hours, the only way we could comfort her was to walk with her, like a young mother would with an infant.

Knowing we could not watch her continue to suffer, we returned to the emergency clinic to meet the vet at 6 a.m. She rested calmly in My husband's arms as the vet prepared his supplies. Then, just before the vet returned, she very sweetly licked me on the nose.

Hello and goodbye, spoken with love.

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