At least once a day someone – usually me – makes the slip of the tongue, which may actually be a slip of the heart. “Chloe”, we say, fully intending to summon Lily.
Ah, it is hard to let go, isn’t it? That golden girl of ours would have been fourteen last month and she ambles about in my memory even though she has been gone for more than two years. Oh how we loved her!
Lily pays no mind to being mis-called, probably because she pays no mind to being called. “Lily-come”, we have cried to her so often that it has become her de-facto nickname, usually followed by the wry comment: “Lily-not-come”. Because Lily pretty much does whatever she wants. She takes your request under advisement. She might come, or she might run off in the other direction. Or she might just lie there and stare at you for awhile giving you the distinct feeling that you are not the boss of her.
Same breed, different, different dog!
Chloe’s coat was so full that more than one earnest onlooker approached us and asked if she was a lion! Lily is smooth and sleek, all the better to race around the property hunting for the lizards and bunnies she will never catch and then leap into the fountain to cool off after her adventures. Lily is definitely not part lion – but she might be part panther!
Chloe could always be found on the back step, waiting for her humans. Lily can always be found – somewhere…eventually…
Where Chloe was a big, comfortable Cadillac, Lily is a finely-tuned Ferrari. She is a high performance model! Where Chloe would gaze at me with adoring eyes, Lily appraises me, as if hoping I will someday rise to her level.
Many is the day I’ve look at Chloe’s image on my phone screensaver and silently beg for her intervention. Two beautiful girls. Yet so very, very different!
Chloe was stately and plodding, Lily is lithe and bouncy – like Tigger!
But this past week, Lily lost her bounce.
When it started, we thought it was her “sensitive stomach”. Finely-tuned machines like Lily tend to be high maintenance. She threw up in the car. Oh no, carsick again! But then she started throwing up after meals. And leaving kibble in her bowl. The one thing Lily has in common with Chloe is that she never leaves kibble in her bowl. She became lethargic. Lily is never lethargic! She got us up in the night. And then absolutely refused to go back in her crate. Horor of horrors, accidents on the carpet. Something was very wrong.
I sat in the kitchen after a sleepless night and Lily-not-come actually came over to me, unbidden, sat down with a big sigh and buried her head between my knees. She was, I think, actually asking for my help. That night I slept on the couch downstairs in my office with her next to me so she could go outside when she needed to and, of course, the memories flooded back of Chloe’s final night when I slept on the couch downstairs to be with her.
What is it about the way we love our dogs? How do they make our flinty little hearts so full? I am pretty convinced that God, gazing wearily upon his stiff-necked people, commanded the creation of dogs in a desperate attempt to soften some of our very rough edges.
That night on the couch I decided I didn’t care if Lily ever again came when I called her or not. I just wanted her to be okay. Maybe I even felt my dear departed Chloe telling me it was time to move on and focus on this goofy girl who needs me.
We finally got the answer to Lily’s malady – somewhere, somehow she had picked up giardia, a common and pernicious parasitic infection. Who knows where or how – the vet suggested that she could have gotten it on a trip to the beach. We have a vial of magic pills – so magic that Lily’s bounce is back in her step and she’s leaping over the hedges again.
Not coming when called. And I don’t even mind.
Oh, and she’s gotten an upgrade. Her crate’s in the garage. She’s sleeping upstairs now. On the floor next to my side of the bed. Just like Chloe did.
She’s my new best friend. Forever.