Trouble in Paradise
Hi gang I didn’t want to give exact dates for security but I am now back from shooting in Alaska. It was fantastic trip and I have tons of photos and info to share, but today I want to start off with just one photo and a long off topic story. I felt it is well worth telling and I hope you find it worth reading. I will pick up as usual next time. There’s great stuff to go over, ins and outs of shooting Eagles, the Chilkat Reserve, cold weather shooting, the Bald Eagle foundation, and much more so please stay tuned. Today please enjoy “Trouble in Paradise”.
Thanks so much for stoping by. Hope you can make it a regular thing.
More than a dozen years ago there were two dogs named Trouble. One, an aged female Doberman/Shepard mix that looked and acted more like a Doberman. The second a child of the first with a similar mix but appeared to be for the most part German Shepard. The second Trouble was pregnant with her first litter. It was a horrible day when the Troubles owner decided it would be best for the eldest to be put down for the safety of the soon to be born pups, but things didn’t end well for either of the Troubles. In the span of a day the elder was gone, the younger gave birth and died from complications as did almost all of the new born. One survivor soon became known as the one and only Trouble. Her owner, a friend of mine, wanted her to have a companion to grow up with so he went to the pound and picked up her new friend Boomer. Within the year Boomer was injured and died. Unrelenting, another companion entered the fray, a pup named Rocky. As a youngster, Rocky looked just like Boomer but in no time he grew to an enormous size. Far larger than his predecessor he out weighed Trouble by at least 40 pounds. In a year Rocky grew to become one of the most loveable canines I had ever known. Never with malice he could easily push Trouble aside in any competition for affection. People gravitated to him and everyone loved him. Trouble was always in the background.
It wasn’t long after that the two dogs owner fell ill and was facing his final days. For the third time in as many years Trouble was going to be abandoned by one of the most important entities in her life. It was generally thought that I should take them in. Generally thought by everyone but me. It was true that I had a nice big yard and that I knew the pair better than any one else but I really didn’t want to be the one. I had my own dog, I had things to do and the two canine clans did not get along. Rocky would be OK but two more dogs? Fudge! I could do just fine without Trouble, she was stand off-ish and looked funny. As an adult Trouble was rewarded with a growth on the side of her face. Not a big deal physically, it was one of those things that would make strangers shy away and everyone else hesitate to pet her. As much as I really didn’t want her I thought it unconscionable to separate the two and in the end I built a fence across the width of the yard to keep the peace. In an amazingly short period of time the household became as busy as Grand Central Station. Days of anxiety followed.
Almost as quickly as it happened it all went away. In the year that followed the other dogs died and all the people wandered off. Had better things to do I suppose. Trouble and I were the only ones left. I was fine with that. In the more than half decade that followed she would almost always emerge from one of her strategic hiding spots to meet me at the backyard gate every day when I made it home. I would pet her for as long as she would allow and give her a cursory exam to be sure she was in as good condition as when I left her, then she would go about her business and me mine.
During the last hour of her last day the veterinarian gently touched Trouble’s paw while she slept. True to form she recoiled, awoke and quickly raised her head to asses the situation. Trouble didn’t like to be touched. There was no obvious explanation but she never liked to be touched by strangers and only to be petted for a few moments by friends. She was an incredible busy-body and snoop though, always needing to be in the middle of every little thing but rubbing her belly or inspecting her private parts was completely out of the question, even for me. The day Rocky died I reached out to pet and console her and she growled in return. I smacked her with the back of my hand. We were both in a bad mood that day. Neither of those things ever happened again. Toward the end I made a concerted effort to hug and pet her a little bit longer from day to day and eventually at the end she could allow the unthinkable when necessary. I was able to rub her belly twice. The first time she reacted with joy. Imagine waiting your entire life to experience one of its simple pleasures!
Trouble had her annoyances. Strange quirks I had never seen in a dog before. She was quite clever and a bit devious there was no doubt about that but she really didn’t attempt to communicate, rather I think she would prefer to solve problems on her own. Eventually I learned that almost every time she acted different it was connected to some issue she encountered. She wanted things to her liking and usually found a way to accomplish just that. She was a clever little mutt, that was for sure.
One day the annoyance on the side of her face became out of control and in just a couple of months grew double, then triple in size. When she decided enough was enough Trouble decided to remove it herself. She did it! Well at least a portion of it. Unfortunately she managed to nick a vein. Old girl had surgery on a rush. She did just fine with that but living with that damn cone on her neck was agonizing for the both of us. The first 48 hours she beat and banged, knocked things over and got herself stuck endlessly. She adapted quickly but it was the first time I sensed that she doubted her own abilities. She needed me. She was fragile and that changed everything. Trouble was free of her curse though, and that was a suitable consolation. It was about that time that I started calling her “Old Girl”. It just seemed to roll off the tongue and I think it was bit more soothing to the ear.
To the best of my memory she never winced or cried in pain through her entire life. In fact, she very seldom complained about anything. I am sure she had pain just like any other animal would.
Of course she did!
It was easy to just ignore it and think to myself there was no discomfort but that was wrong and I knew it. I always tried to moderate my view and my expectations. Sometimes I would give her part of an aspirin tablet and she changed. Sometimes a little more active sometimes a deeper more comfortable sleep. Trouble could snore up a storm and when she did I knew she was a happy camper. She snored from time to time.
It was a short several months until the hideous curse came back and there was no chance of fixing it this time. She wouldn’t make it through another surgery according to the doctor. It was the beginning of the end. Old girl was a fighter though and she had her clever ways of adapting. She seldom made the same mistake twice. She depended on me too. I was happy to do whatever she needed, some things I would never record to print.
Final days became months but eventually time was up. As much as anything I wanted her to know that she would not be abandoned or left alone yet another time. Somehow I think she appreciated that.
In the end Trouble died in my arms. I held her to her last breath and cried when she was gone. She had a long life, not always good but plenty of it mixed in. I keep her collar strapped to my camera bag as a reminder for all the days she watched over and protected my home while I was away and how I would rush home from shooting to see her and give her a nice meal.
Here’s to you old girl, here is to you.