14 March 2006

Memories of a happy dog

Here is how I will remember Collette. It was July 27, 2005, between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. We were out for our regular morning walk. Instead of walking out into the vineyard, Collette wanted to walk down the hill on the paved road to the rue des Laurendières.

The poor dog had suffered an arthritis episode a month earlier. Our neighbors had an outdoor party on June 25, I remember, and Collette was invited. Afterward, a friend told us that Collette was a real zombie (same word in French) that afternoon. She was stumbling around in a fog. The friend was afraid Collette wasn't long for this world, even back then.

Be that as it may, a month later Collette had recovered completely. She had gotten her joie de vivre back. She was running, chasing, and playing. It was fun to take her out on walks, because she obviously enjoyed it so much.

* * * * *

Chasing a deer

It was about 6:15 a.m. and Collette and I were out
for our morning walk. We went down the hill
to the "street" called la rue des Lauriendières.
As you can see, it isn't paved.

The sun was already high above the horizon, but clouds were building.
Showers and even thunderstorms were predicted.
I hoped we wouldn't get wet before we got back home.

Just before I got to the big walnut tree by the road,
something caught my eye as I looked off to the left.

It was a chevreuil out in the field. Chevreuils are a kind
of little deer, called roe deer, that we have around here.
I don't think they exist in America, but they do in England.

I think this was a young deer, because it was curious and
not fearful. I don't think it had seen Collette yet, just me.

I don't know if it was Collette or the deer that saw the other first.
But the deer didn't stick around at that point.
It went bounding over the field, headed for the woods.

Collette, ever the optimist, went bounding after it. She forgot
about old age
and rhumatism for just a minute. But the deer
had already disappeared
into the woods.

Where did it go?
Do you think I can get through this thicket and find it?

Uh-oh, somebody's calling me. My hearing is still good,
even though my joints ache. One day
I'm going to catch one of those deer, you just wait.

Hey, did you see me run after that deer?
I almost caught it. It got away, but the chase was fun.
Thanks for waiting for me.

Just a little way down the road, we saw this cat.
It saw Collette. Then it turned and ran.
Collette turned around and looked at me.
She wasn't going to waste energy running after a cat
when there were deer to be chased.

* * * * *

Collette loved to "rub on the bushes" — she did it in San Francisco, and she continued doing it by rubbing along the hedge outside our front door nearly every day here in France. This picture was taken on July 4, 2005.

Rubbing on the bushes in the sunshine, with a smile

And this one was taken on March 4, 2006 — ten days ago.

Rubbing on the bushes in the snow, trying to lick a flake off her nose

The final veterinarian appointment is scheduled for 5:15 this afternoon.


  1. Your photo tribute to Collette is beautiful. The recent photo in the snow is one of my all time favorites.

    What a life Collette had with you and Walt! She escaped an early death and got a taste of heaven on earth (living in the French countryside). You gave her a good life and she gave you much joy. Those memories will last.

    Bon courage,

  2. Thanks so much for sharing about Collette. My girl Mandy, a much loved terrier X pound puppy (16+years young) is on her last journey as well. She has rebounded for the moment but I know that I too will be making that sad call to vet. My heart goes out to you both. Thanks again for giving us this beautiful blog. (I have lurked for months...)

  3. I'll be thinking about you and Walt this afternoon.When Gloria and I went through this seven years ago with our beloved dog Brit, we cried and cried. I think you will too. Collette had a wonderful life in San Francisco and France, thanks to you. Those of us who love France nearly as much as we love dogs stand beside you in solidarity.
    Bon courage,

  4. Thanks Evelyn. Sorry you won't get to see Collette again. Or get to hear her barking at you and Lew.

    Glenda, bon courage. I just posted an account of the afternoon's events. If it had to happen, this was probably the best way.

  5. Thanks Dennis -- you'll see how it all unfolded from my postings. Now is the hard part, just remembering a hundred times a day that Collette isn't here any more.


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