We got Mrs. Gladiola P. Fellerbee as a puppy. She looked like a little fox. Avalon had told me emphatically at the age of three that if we ever got a dog we should name it Mr. Fellerbee, since Felb was a girl we named her Mrs. Fellerbee. I added the Gladiola P. part, as it seemed fitting. I was the one who wanted a dog. I was obsessed. I'm a little obsessive compulsive sometimes and it was a very long and difficult year. I had this vision of a furry little friend spramping across the floor to greet me every morning.
Spramp...spramp. Pant. Snuffle.
We had a few false starts, but finally it all worked out and we had our new little dog. She picked up fetch so quickly we were certain we had a canine prodigy on our hands. She was hoppity and bouncity and sprampity and adorable, as all puppies are.
As a puppy, Mrs. Fellerbee was hit by a truck. Terriers are hard wired to chase things, they were bred to chase vermin into holes (cairns are rock piles where the vermin live). That bright, shiny truck was simply too tempting and she took off like a lightening bolt to get it. Nothing could have stopped her pursuit. Felb loved to chase trucks, which is why after this incident she was never allowed near a road without a leash or a lead. Henceforth she became known as 'dog on a string.' She would have died, but my sister in law, who is a small animal vet, was there at the scene and performed emergency surgery. After that accident, Mrs. Fellerbee was never quite the same. It took several weeks until she could walk again.
As is the way of life sometimes, Mrs. Fellerbee became my husband's dog. Terriers tend to bond strongly to one family member and he was her human. That was that.
Fellerbee was a giant pain in the ass. She peed freely on any tiny square of carpet she could find. I could not even keep a small bathroom or kitchen rug for more than a week before she christened it. She barked incessantly, and nothing could deter her. She licked our entire house and every square inch of our furniture obsessively. She ate her way through a huge swath of my daughter's stuffed animals followed by pillows, bedspreads, sweaters, dog beds and anything that looked remotely chew worthy. Yet, when we twice had mice infest our little country schoolhouse, she could not be bothered to even acknowledge their existence. Who wants to bother chasing a mouse when there are soft and fluffy comforters that need attacking?
When we moved to East Tennessee earlier this year, we had to find homes for our livestock. The mountains are filled with predators that would find chickens and pigs tasty treats. My sister in law took the chickens to her forty acre farm and a good friend of Avalon's family had been wanting some exotic pets, so they were happy to take the pot bellies. It was hard saying goodbye to our feathered and hooved friends, but we were confident they'd be well cared for. Fortunately we were able to bring our two guinea pigs and Mrs. Fellerbee with us.
Our rental property has carpeted bedrooms, and if a door was left open, Felb took full advantage of the cushy soft carpeting upon which to freely relieve herself. She was never particularly fond of wet grass on her private parts, and I can hardly blame her.
Mrs. Fellerbee had been changing over the past year. We believe that the damage to her brain caught up to her. While we were out of town, something happened that sent up some major red flags. Then this past Friday, it became apparent that she had turned a corner and we were not going to be able to bring her back. So this past Saturday we took her to a most compassionate local vet and made the impossible decision to have her put to sleep. Both the vet and my sister in law assured us that this was the right thing to do. My husband and I considered running away several times before digging deeper to find the resolve we needed to let her go. It was best for her and for those around her, but the right thing is rarely the easy thing.
The three of us have been sitting around since Friday night crying big, fat, sobbing tears. Mrs. Fellerbee was part of our family and we had envisioned her living to annoy us endlessly for many more years to come. We were making plans for her to take over the porch at our new home as her domain. We were so close that it feels surreal...all of it...why now? Why here? Why has it all been so bloody difficult since we decided to move here?
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Then I remind myself that things could be far worse. I think about the people in Japan, and all that they have lost this week. I think of these things, count my blessings and I know that Mrs. Fellerbee is okay now. We buried her in the side garden in our new yard. When Avalon was small, Mrs. Fellerbee ate her favorite little stuffed dog toy from Old Navy...three times. I had to buy them on eBay to replace them. We placed an earless little Old Navy dog into her cardboard coffin along with a chew bone. She always loved a good chew bone. Last week we found a giant frog sculpture for our new garden, and it became obvious on Saturday that this was meant to be Fellerbee's guardian on her journey. So the giant frog stands guard on top of her grave and we wish Fellerbee safe travels.
Life goes on. We will heal. The scars will fade, the tears will dry. It won't feel quite so quiet here after a while. Yet that small space in our hearts where that snarky, barky, infuriating and lovable little terrier took up space, well that will stay broken.
Fare thee well, Mrs. Fellerbee.