By Edie Gross
We were grieving the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when the good folks at Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue let us know they’d just pulled an aging border collie from a Kentucky shelter and asked us if we could take her. When I met her at their Maryland farm the next day, she seemed like she was grieving too – she made little eye contact and seemed lost in thought, if a dog can be that. Border Collie Rescue suggested that she seemed like a dog who may have endured the loss of a beloved caretaker. They said the Kentucky shelter had called her Glory, a name we liked. She also had a mane of white fur around her neck that looked to me a like a dissent collar, so we dubbed her Ruth Bader Glory, though most of the time, she went by Glo or Glo-Bug. She was a redhead, so naturally, I fell in love with her immediately.
For the first year she was with us, she was pretty stand-offish, sometimes even leaving a room if we entered. She seemed sad, like she was waiting for someone who never came. But slowly, she warmed up to us. One day, she was lying on the living room floor while I scratched her ears, and she ever so slightly lifted her leg in the air so I could rub her belly. That’s when I knew she’d accepted us as her people. Glo was essentially mute – in 2½ years, we only ever heard her bark twice, and both times were in her sleep. But after the belly rub, she became a lot more expressive. If she wanted attention or a snack, she’d nudge us with her snout or poke at our legs with one of her freckled paws. If one of us was eating French fries, she was doubly insistent.
Because she couldn’t bark to go out, we attached a bell to the back door that she could ring whenever she felt the need. We came running whenever she rang it, so she started ringing it whenever she needed company – whether she needed to go out or not. Sometimes, she’d ring that bell like it was a damned emergency and then just park herself on the threshold once we’d opened the door for her – half-in and half-out of the house, going nowhere but damn sure not allowing that door to be closed again. In rooms where there weren’t any bells to ring, she’d paw at any closed doors until we opened them. And then she’d park herself right in the middle of the door frame and lie down for a nap. I started to wonder if maybe she’d spent time in California or some other earthquake-prone part of the country and was simply being cautious.
When we adopted her, our veterinarian estimated she was at least 12 and possibly closer to 14 years old. She was blind in one eye and always moved gingerly – except for some odd reason when we opened the door from the kitchen to the garage. We’re not sure what she thought was in there, but every time that door opened, she’d scurry past us like she was late for a flight, then glance back after a few steps to gauge our reaction, which was usually just “amusion” – amused confusion.
Her spindly rear legs were never super reliable, and a few months back, we took away her staircase privileges; over the last few weeks, we’d begun carrying her pretty much everywhere. At her last vet appointment, blood test results indicated her liver was failing. We wrapped her medication in turkey and ham – she was wise to the cheese trick and, much liked closed doors, was not having any of that – and it probably bought her a few extra months. But as her mobility and her appetite waned, we realized we needed to let her go, something our amazing veterinarian arranged for us to do at home on a recent February afternoon.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Dogs represent the purest form of love and devotion, trust and honesty, that exists in the universe. That we’re asked to care for them is an honor of the highest order. But man am I gonna miss that precious, gentle baby girl! I hope that on the other side, she finds whoever she was longing for. And they better be prepared to hold the pearly gates ajar for a good amount of time because she ain’t waltzing through them till she’s good and ready – unless, of course, they lead to the garage.
Edie Gross spent 20 years as a reporter, editor and columnist for various newspapers, including the Fredericksburg, VA, Free Lance-Star when it was blessedly family-owned. A recovering Floridian, she lives in Fredericksburg with her husband and a rotating case of rescue dogs.