My Phantom Limb


Dear Readers,

I didn’t blog much last week, now did I? My absence from the blogosphere wasn’t at all planned, and I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit guilty for it. However, I’m sure you’ll understand when I tell you about the week I had. Let’s start at the beginning.

Almost sixteen years ago, my dad and I drove out into the middle of nowhere because I wanted a puppy. One of my best friends at the time had a Border Collie named Jip, and I wanted one. Jip (and all Border Collies) was super-smart, athletic and loving.

When my dad and I arrived at the house in the middle of nowhere, there were something like six puppies that all looked pretty similar except for one. Border Collies tend to be mostly black with white splotches. They often look like the kinds of dogs you’d name Bandit, because their splotches can look like a bandit-type mask that covers their eyes. The puppy that didn’t look like the others was a female, and she kept nibbling my toes. All of the other puppies paid little attention to me, but I didn’t much like the idea of taking home the outcast dog that looked different and was already chewing on my feet. Still, my dad sort of encouraged me to like the different dog, and I was (and am) the kind of girl who doesn’t feel very strongly about choices like that… so I agreed to take home my little Beastie.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any digital versions of her puppy pictures, but that’s the Beastie about three years ago. My dad helped me come up with a properly poetic name: Annabelle Leigh after the Poe poem. We changed the spelling a bit, but you have to admire a twelve-year-old who knows that kind of a reference, eh?

We took the Beast home, and she was the smartest dog ever. I loved her bunches, especially when she’d blow bubbles in her water dish, dig caves in the backyard, and go to my softball games. When my parents were at work, I often walked her to the park and forced her to go down the slides with me, climb up really treacherous rock mounds, and do other ridiculous dangerous things that she didn’t want to do. She kept me sane when I lived all alone for two years, and she comforted me at night when I was scared after watching scary movies.

You know where this is going…

On Wednesday, I took Annabelle out for her last trip to the park, which she seemed to enjoy in spite of the having to make frequent stops to rest and falling down a few times. I put her doggles on one last time, and, no – they were not merely an accessory. The Beast struggled with Cancer that was made worse when sunlight reached her unpigmented spots of skin (around her eye)… the doggles were prescribed by her vet, believe it or not.

Here’s the last pic we ever took 😦

We went home and cried a little, then Lauren showed up with hot chocolate for me, and we went and put Annabelle to sleep 😦

It’s one of those things that’s difficult because it feels like a moral decision. It feels like you have to pick exactly the right day to do it, otherwise you’re a mean person who is cruel to animals. I picked Wednesday, and I’m not regretting it at all, but I am feeling pretty sad still.

The Beast has taken on this new role in my life, sort of like how amputees have a phantom limb. Whenever I wake up at night and have to pee, I don’t turn the light on, so for the past fifteen years or so, I’ve had to be really careful not to step on the Beastie.

I keep on worrying about that even though she’s not there to step on.

Every time I’ve opened or closed a door for more than half of my life, I’ve made sure to invite Annabelle into whichever room I’m in.

I keep trying to do that, similar to how amputees sometime get itches in the limbs they’ve lost.

Annabelle was just a dog, but she’s also my phantom limb and I miss her.

Lauren was wonderful to go with me on Wednesday, and without even telling me, she made a Humane Society page for Annabelle with a picture and everything. She even donated some money in her name.

Click here to check out her page.

And forgive me for taking a blogging break last week.

Much love,

Kathryn Leigh

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9 thoughts on “My Phantom Limb

  1. Excellent post today Katie!
    It is amazing how much a pet can affect us (both while they are alive and then when they die)! I love how God put that affection in us for each other and for life and how that translates in how we hurt and miss–even “man’s (in your case woman’s) best friend”…

    How great of Lauren to go with you and be with you on Wednesday…what a great friend!

    BTW…HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  2. It is amazing how much a pet can change us. I have a 5 year old miniature poodle/shitzu mix and he is like one of my kids. Often times, I have to remember he is a dog because I treat him like he is one of us. He has emotions, preferences when it comes to food, people, you name it. Sorry for your loss.

  3. Sorry about your Beastie. It is never easy, ever. Having grown up in the middle of East Jesus on a farm, we had to do lots of hard decisions about animals. Even though it was somewhat common, it was never easy.

    Given the problems your dog was having/age, for whatever it is worth, I think you did the right thing.

    It is a sad thing and not easy at all, but it was the humane thing to do.

  4. Aww, I’m so sorry about your dog. Especially in the same week as your birthday (I presume?). My dogs are all like my siblings, and I understand that feeling of expecting them there even though you know they’re not. But she’s no longer suffering or in pain, and perhaps you’ll meet again someday? 🙂

  5. I am sorry to hear about Annabelle. 😦 She looked lovely, including with her doggles on. 😉 A friend of ours recently put his fifteen-year-old lab to sleep as well; when you’ve had an animal this long… I can’t really imagine. I think I want to have a dog someday (my boyfriend’s allergic to cats, and he likes “nice big dogs”), but I know they won’t leave as long as us, and it’s always a little heartbreak in the end.

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