Today our family said goodbye to Gabi, my mom’s Shetland sheepdog. Gabi was meant to be my “replacement” when I went off to college; she was my mom’s constant companion and a source of love and amusement for our entire family.
My mom had always wanted a Sheltie and when she found a local breeder with a puppy looking for a home she was psyched. The breeder raised show dogs and Gabi, being a teensy bit too tall or some nonsense, was not considered “show quality.” That seemed like total bullshit to me since she was gorgeous and full of personality, but whatever. We just figured we were lucky and brought her home, where she proceeded to charm us and annoy the hell out of our now-deceased cats, Pookie and Squeak.
About a month after she came home I was sick with the flu. The kind of sick where you sleep a lot but never feel rested. The kind of sick where you are simultaneously feverish and freezing. Gabi stayed by my side while my parents were at work and – I swear to God – would dig for me under the covers to make sure I was OK. Shortly after that, my mom was able to take her to work each day so they could bond and Gabi could learn to socialize. She still liked hanging out with me, but by now she was clearly turning into Mama’s girl.
Everywhere we took her people loved her and children wanted to pet her. Much as she loved the attention and was a bit of a ham, her loyal little heart truly belonged to Mom. She was happy to hang out while she sewed or worked from home. A true herding dog, she felt most secure when her “sheep” were in sight.
She was suffering from some health issues and wasn’t young by dog standards, but it was a tough call to let her go. The vet was amazingly supportive and kind; she was impressed with our willingness to treat Gabi, but we had reached the end of the line. Phrases like “quality of life” were being thrown around and we made an appointment with the vet so that we could have a little time with her.
The house feels quiet, although we still have a house full of pets. I miss our feisty, sassy, silly, tortilla-stealing, lawnmower-charging, squirrel-chasing little fur factory.