Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Ode to Merly

A friend of mine lost a dog a few days ago, and it reminded me that I never really posted about Merly on this blog, other than to briefly mention her passing.  I decided it was high time I did.

We got Merlyn Anne Durham in Texas, the first year that we were together.  We were driving through our neighborhood when we saw a handwritten sign announcing, "Free Puppies".  We debated back and forth for a week, before walking two blocks to inquire about the puppies.

It turns out they were what is now known as crossbreeds, meaning they were the product of two different purebred breeds.  Mom was a champion Dalmatian, and Dad was the purebred Lab that jumped a six-foot fence to get to her.  The puppies, who by this time were close to 16 weeks old, looked more like Holstein cows than they did like Dalmatians--instead of spots, they had large black splotches on their VERY white fur. 

We named her after a character on a tv show we were watching at the time, a show called "American Gothic."  The name of the young girl on the show, Merlyn Anne, went hand in hand with the name of our other dog at the time, Arthur.

Because we got her near the end of her prime socialization period, and because at the time neither we nor her dam's owners knew anything about properly socializing an animal, Merly was never really good in public.  She would bark and jump at people she saw in the distance, and she would go ballistic if she saw a dog while on leash.  It wasn't much better in the car--if she saw a dog, she would throw herself at the windows as if she wanted to go through them and murder the other animal.

Nonetheless, she was the smartest dog either one of us had ever seen, and the sweetest, and we loved her.  She moved from Texas to British Columbia to California to Ontario with us.  She loved the heat in Texas and California, absolutely HATED the rain in BC, and was cold ALL the time in Ontario.  She didn't like to be outside unless it was roasting, and spent most of her time here in Ontario either huddled in front of a fireplace or curled up on a warm dog bed.

She learned to walk at "heel" the first time we ever put her on a leash, she defended our house from intruders one day when the back door blew open while we were out, and she delighted in laying out in the sun in the hottest weather.  She ate a couch and never learned not to get things off the kitchen counter.  She was learning clicker training just by watching us teach Lance.

We got Lance to be a companion to her, to liven her up and get her moving again at the age of twelve.  And while that strategy worked, deep down she hated him.  But she never blamed us.  And four months after we got him, we discovered she had cancer.  Six weeks later, this past March, we made the incredibly hard decision to let her go.

I still miss her terribly, and occasionally still cry when I think about her, as I'm doing now.

One of her favorite pastimes:  'scroonching' in the warm sunlight.


Terri said...

I'm waffling about getting a dog, especially when I think of all the negatives. But reading stories like yours reminds me of all the potential positives too.

CousinLinda said...

Even in the midst of going through the most difficult part of having dogs--the puppy training stage (x2!), I don't regret getting my two guys. And I know that if I'm granted as much time with them as I was with Merly (12+ years), they'll become well-behaved, dignified companions, and I'll have at least as many golden memories of them.