Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Black and White

Mostly I write about climbing adventures in this blog. Sometimes I include more hefty and contemplative subjects, such as when our old dairy goat Purslane died.  She was a beautiful black and white French Alpine goat.  She lived to be 18 years old – that’s damned old for an old goat!

I loved that old goat. But I have loved no animal or pet as I have loved Grace, the border collie. I feel so grateful to have gotten to know Grace since 2004 when I met Annie.  In late 2007 when I moved to Vermont, Grace and I began co-habitating. But at that time my dog Maxie took all of my energy and focus as she was a high anxiety and high maintenance pooch.  Post-Maxie Grace was top dog and we gradually got to know each other and bonded over the years.  I learned to understand her ways – quiet, smart, independent and mature.

Grace turned 15 years old this past Saturday. Using the dog-to-people years multiplier, that puts her at 105. Can you imagine living to 105??? I sure can’t. But Grace did, and she did it with grace.

She had been in a long, slow decline for the past year and it seems it accelerated in the past weeks.  She was on meds for inflammatory pain (arthritis), nerve pain and heart medication. This made her much more comfortable the past months and years but medication can only help for so long.  She was old and tired, stiff and aching and losing her dignity.  Grace deserved the very best exit a dog can have and that was our only gift left to give her.  It is the most painful and dreaded thing I can bear in my own heart.  But if I were in her condition I would want the same. 

Now that the decision is behind us, I can feel some peace for Grace.  But it was anything but black and white making that decision.  One always hopes for a beloved pet to go on their own terms and in their own time.  But that is as uncommon for them as it is for us.  We agonized over the decision. “Is she in pain? A lot? Is she happy? She’s eating fine so doesn’t that mean she is still ok?” The questions were plentiful and unanswerable.  It is said by some that “you will know” when she is ready to go.  Unrealistic in my view.  And the tighter the bond between you the more you have to account for a clouded perspective.  We do not want them to leave us and sometimes we hang onto them for too long.  I feel we called it right – I sure hope so.  All I know is that now the house feels so empty and vacant.  We weep. We yearn to see her smile and stroke her soft fur again.  But she’s gone from this world and I sure hope onto a far better place. What more can we hope for in the cloudy grayness that comes when the black and white colors fade away?

Photo by Jane Sobel Klonsky, Please visit Project Unconditional to learn more.


  1. What a beautiful tribute and life you have given her! Thanks for sharing her over the years... <3

  2. Jean, it's kem. Jane klonsky is a friend of mine in Manchester vt. Small world? I hope we can get together in the near future.

  3. Jean, it's kem. Jane klonsky is a friend of mine in Manchester vt. Small world? I hope we can get together in the near future.