As I mentioned in the previous Blog post, we have been dealing with Vet issues; a goat with a broken leg, a lame pig, and a pretty sick pooch. Two of the three of those vet visits have failed. The goat will recover. She is looking fine; but the pig and dog are another issue. I am sad to inform you that Petunia the pig doesn’t look like she will recover and will be sent off to the butcher as soon as there is an opening. She can’t be bred, can’t walk well, and, well, that’s that.
The heart break, and why we will be taking some time alone, is that our dear friend and absolutely best companion, Basil, passed away at 6:30 am yesterday, August 4th. I was with her when it happened and she blew her last, very weak breath into my face. We are all just wrecked by this. It came on suddenly and the vet simply wasn’t able to figure it out. Aaron did some Googling and it seems likely that it was a digestive track issue that blocked her ability to move food through her system. It really doesn’t matter. She got very sick and was gone in a week. I told my mother, when she was here visiting, and Basil was starting to head south, that we were going to lose her. Unfortunately, I was right. We thought she would be around much longer. She would have reached her 9th birthday in September. It is the average life expectancy of Labrador Retrievers, but this blind sided us.
We tried, while taking her to be cremated, to eulogize her in our own way. She was with us since the beginning of the farm venture. The pet store told us that she was considered an Alpha Female. The breeder noted that while she was in the litter that Basil didn’t want just her food, she wanted EVERYBODY’s food. We didn’t know what that meant exactly, but she was going to be a farm dog, mostly with just us, so who cared who’s food she wanted? It was only going to be her, and later the inclusion of Sage, four years later. She was just as sweet as the dickens and we loved her to pieces. Because I was the one working from home and then later, just the one always at home, she became my dog. She was always there, always wanted attention, seemed to know when I needed companionship and couldn’t be a better dog to have around. There, she was awesome. She was also a GIANT pain in the ass because she was an Alpha. I think it is also what lent her her charm.
Basil was a very smart dog. Because food treats were involved, she trained up on the basics pretty easily. It was the more involved behavioral issues that could send me into tyrannical fits! We have a line of trees that separate us from the neighbors. She knew, KNEW!! she wasn’t supposed to go into or beyond the trees, but, as if to simply give me the finger, she did it incessantly. I could spank her within an inch of her life and she would just do it again. At the same time, though, she would just come up to me in the house and be the most loving girl on the planet. She also knew, KNEW!! that she wasn’t supposed to be in the kitchen. One, she was a chow hound and two, she was 113 pounds and was easily underfoot while I was cooking. She decided that it wasn’t breaking the rules if she went into the kitchen when no one was there or looking. What she didn’t know is that her toenails tapped on the linoleum and I could hear it when I was in the basement. After violating the rules and raiding the garbage to dig out a ham bone, the fight ensued. She ran into her crate while I chased after her, snapped at me when she felt cornered and the bashing my elbow took landed me in the hospital for 2 days for IV antibiotics due to a ruptured bursa.. She is the reason I don’t wear a wedding ring. It had to be cut off due to the swelling. So there. We are honest. Basil was a big, big challenge and could test every inch of our patience. I was definitely in charge (probably because she knew I could, and did, kick her ass); but it was always a question where Zina stood with her. Basil thought she was absolutely second in command with Zina 3rd and Aaron a non-issue and later, Sage, at the bottom of the heap.
But she was as sweet and docile as they come when dealt with on a day to day basis. When we got little Sage, during all the potty training, etc. that happens with little puppies, we discovered that Basil, was telling us when Sage had to go outside. She would act as though she needed to go out, when not minutes before she had just GONE out. She was helping to train the little one and us, about what was going on. It was pretty amazing. 3 nights ago, when Basil was pretty much losing her cognitive ability, it was Sage who went in and licked Aaron while he was sleeping, to try to let someone know that Basil needed to go out. It turned out to be too late, but if you don’t think there is a language there, you need to expand your horizons.
So Basil was a challenge. She was a pain in the ass and the most wonderful, loving animal on the planet. That is what made her so special to us. I wouldn’t have traded the last 9 years with her for anything (although I wouldn’t have said so in the midst of yelling fits). We won’t own an Alpha again but damned if she wasn’t my best friend. So if you are, or know anyone who is in charge of this insane existence, could you please let them know…… I really want my puppy back. My heart hurts. Basil, I loved you to the moon and back. Please walk with me the rest of the way. I miss you more than I will probably miss most people. I love you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t stop you from suffering.
Basil the farm dog: 9/11/2012 – 8/4/2021. Rest my sweet friend. May there be sticks and rabbits and an open kitchen where you are now. Sometime let me know how you are doing. I will always be listening.