Thursday, June 28, 2007


As I sadly mentioned several weeks ago on this blogsite, we recently lost our older Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Sparquie. Although we have lost dogs before, it is both fascinating and, sometimes, depressing to me to see how things are different with Sparquie gone. She was smart, dynamic, and even more alpha in our household than I was totally aware of while she was with us.

The changes in Lexie are especially interesting and, at times, poignant. Both dogs would leap up and catch tossed treats in the air. Before, Lexie would snatch everything thrown to her and usually gobble it before Sparquie could steal it away. Now, she is more discriminating. She’ll still catch most anything, but then she will put one treat or another gently down on the floor, sniff it, and sometimes just walk away. We have found out this way that she is not especially fond of lettuce or grapes or strawberry pieces, even though she used to eat them all with Sparquie around.

Then there are her habits outside. Before, when we walked out onto our back patio to let the dogs run down the steep wooden steps and romp in the yard, Lexie would always hurry down and usually run around. Sparquie was less inclined to go down the steps at her age, and would sometimes just stand at the top and watch Lexie. Other times, Sparquie, too, would go down the steps. As long as one produced what they were outside to accomplish, both would get treats--which was often why Sparquie would stand at the top, watch for a while, then bark at Lexie to hurry back upstairs. Now, though, Lexie sometimes chooses not to go down the steps unless she sees a neighbor’s cat or some birds to chase, or unless she’s sure she has something she needs to do. She takes her time more, now, without Sparquie to encourage her to dash back up.

Same thing with our side-yard dog run. Lexie used to bark to be let outside there many times during the day, often because she assumed Sparquie needed to go out--and this was an easier trek than getting down into our backyard. Again, as long as one produced, both would get treats. Now, Lexie only barks now and then to be let out, and either a romp or side-yard outing is generally okay with her.

Speaking of barks, Sparquie’s hearing had been disappearing as she got older. Lexie was always the one to let her know if the doorbell rang or something else should get her attention. Now, on her own, Lexie is letting herself become more laid back about noises.

My husband Fred and I are going on a trip in a few weeks, and I’ve already braced myself to take out the references to Sparquie in the tried-and-true instructions I’ve always left for our pet-sitters. And I’m concerned about Lexie, who’s spoiled by having one or both of us around all the time, and how lonely she will be while we’re gone. Our pet-sitter will stay at our home with her, fortunately, and at least one of our sons will be around often, but I can’t help being concerned for Lexie and her state of mind.

One upshot of all this is that we’re really spoiling Lexie even more than she already was. But of course, she deserves it!


1 comment:

Monica Ferris said...

I think nowadays we're more aware of the emotional lives of our pets. I became aware of it some years back when one of our two cats disappeared and we later got another from the Humane Society to replace it (though can one pet ever "replace" one lost?). The cat who disappeared had to be taught to sharpen her claws -- I don't know why she didn't know this, and she would let them grow until her paws bled. I would lift her by her forelegs and rub her toes on the scratching post and praise her. She needed reminders every so often, too. Then she disappeared. A door left open and out she went. The new kitten had to be shown where it was permitted to scratch, and the first time I rubbed her toes on the sisal rope and praised her, the other cat came running, looking for her vanished companion. She was obviously puzzled, disappointed and sad at not finding her. They mourn, too.