Pickle has left us, and our hearts and Augie’s are still missing her. It’s been nearly two months, but I just wasn’t able to write about this until now because it still feels like she’s with us. Many of our friends and family know, and now it’s time to let everyone know—it wouldn’t be right to let Pickle go with no tribute.
The sadness of losing her has been gradually easing a bit the last couple of weeks, and so many memories come up, so much love. There’s so much, too much, not enough to say.
Pickle was nearly 13 and had a lot of health issues: Cushing’s disease, heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis… and it all seemed to pile up on her the last few months of 2018. She had a stroke on Christmas Eve, and spent the next four days in the ICU. We were able to bring her home on Friday the 28th, and she got to sleep in her own bed one last time. But on the morning of December 29th, she let us know she was done.
She went so quickly and easily, and seemed so very relieved that she didn’t have to fight anymore.
Pickle was a skittish little oddball when we brought her home in April of 2011. She hadn’t been abused, but had been neglected and then surrendered when her parents had a human baby, and for her first couple of weeks with us, she seemed to find it hard to believe that she could pretty much do whatever she wanted now.
It didn’t take her long to warm up, though, and claim her place as princess of the household… and the universe.
And she took a page right out of The Princess and the Pea: If she wasn’t given a cushion on top of a cushion to recline on, she’d arrange her own (often with Augie’s assistance). She required many, many blankies to be piled upon her, and taught Augie about how good that was.
Before Augie arrived, Pickle would curl up in a ball between us in bed, not much bigger than a dinner plate, but would somehow expand during the night until we were clinging to the edges of the mattress. Then she’d move down to the foot of the bed, grunting like a little pig the whole time until she got comfortable there. She’d then wake up in the wee hours, stand up under the covers, and plow her way out, hot and panting. And it would start all over again. And when it was all of us in the bed, the dogs got the lion’s share.
As befits a princess, her preference was to lie abed until about 1 PM. She’d deign to come downstairs late in the morning to be served breakfast and then go out in the yard, but after that it was straight back upstairs for the remainder of her beauty sleep.
When Augie came home about 18 months later, Pickle’s princess status was disrupted by a spunky Orange Dog who seemed to want to always be touching her (gasp!) and attempting to play with her constantly. For about a week, Pickle was not having it. Then suddenly they were best buds, and Pickle started getting a lot more exercise and really came out of her shell.
She learned that binkies were to be played with instead of stared at, the yard was great for romping and wasn’t just a giant bathroom…
…and that there was definitely something to be said for sleeping in a pile of dogs and humans.
The best part was watching her always win at tug-of-war by virtue of being the bossiest, and running around the yard with Augie in the pattern they’d developed, part of which was pretending that the row of trees and plants on the hilly side was an actual barrier that guaranteed immunity from being tagged, even though it was easily crossed.
Pickle gradually slowed down as she got older and some health issues began to appear, and she moved herself to her own bed next to ours and claimed it for her throne. She let Augie share it often, but preferred her own space and would grunt and poke her legs out until Augie gave up and got in bed with us.
But then we’d often wake up in the morning with both of them in our bed, staring us in the face. Best mornings ever.
The last year or so, Pickle didn’t play much anymore, but would still occasionally chew a new binky, remove its guts, and then lose interest once the job was done. But she never lost interest in the Friday Night Treat Ball, and was better than Augie at figuring out how to get the treats out of the ball quickly enough to go “help” Augie get the rest of her treats out, too. And whenever the Scottish binkies from Linda arrived, Pickle reverted to puppyhood and perked right up.
Pickle didn’t love everyone like Augie does, but aside from us, she had a few favorite people and would climb onto their laps when they’d visit, then sit there staring and gently poking them with a paw to indicate that yes, it was recommended to keep petting her… or else. And of course, Dad was always Most Beloved, even when he wasn’t awake enough to realize it.
She wasn’t always the best-behaved dog. But she definitely knew she was special and easily took advantage of us in that… and she deserved pretty much everything she got away with anyway.
Our little White Dog with the orange freckles, the twinkle toes, the pink nose and gumdrop eyes, the beastly breath, the bad habits and stanky face. The snoring princess. The Orange Dog’s and Daddy’s best girl. The spoiled-rotten little alien with the stick legs, chicken thighs, and constantly wagging tail. Pickle Pie, Chicken Leggy, Gigi, Piculier, Twinkletoes, Jickle, The White Dog, Princess. We love you and always will, and we miss you so very much. Our baby girl.
“Come back here, you chicken-leg bastard!”
The Pie, 2005-2018