A House Without a Scottie
November 3, 2017 Uncategorized
Mr Reigh was born on November 28, 2005, along with two brothers and two sisters, at the vet’s office up the street. His mother, Belle, was supposed to have puppies Thanksgiving weekend, and she was fat as a tick, content to lie on her back and have her belly rubbed.
On the Monday after, I took her to the vet, who looked at her and felt her belly and said, “Well, we can either do a c-section now, or you can bring her in at midnight and we’ll do an emergency one.”
He was always the most practical of vets.
We did the c-section then, of course, and I was in the operating room when he took his first breath. We brought them home, then, five healthy puppies, and began a reign of what I can only recall fondly as total bedlam.
Five puppies are a lot. Belle didn’t know what to do with them at first. I got as little sleep as if I had five human infants, and I remember crying myself to sleep one night because “Belle doesn’t love her puppies!”
She did, of course, but she sensibly preferred them when they were older.
Mr. Reigh was named after my father’s mother, whose maiden name was Reigh, but he didn’t have a real name right away. It’s hard enough to lose a puppy, much less one you’ve invested with a name, so the breeder’s rule was, no naming until after three weeks, so they each had a piece of yarn tied around their necks, so we could tell who was who, who was gaining weight, who was not.
Mr. Gray became Mr. Reigh, whose kennel name was Happy as If. His father’s line had a dog with a call name of Happy in it, and he truly was the sweetest dog with the best temperament.
As a puppy, he managed to escape his whelping pen one night, and spent the entire night in his mother’s bed, suckling, warm and cozy. Mr. Reigh was no fool.
When it came time to decide, we kept the best boy and the best girl, Reigh and Bess. They slept and ate and played together for years, and other than Bess being awful to make Reigh chase her, they never had a cross word among them. Reigh and Bess would wade out on the pool cover, up to their neck in water, happy as if they were Scottish otters rather than terriers.
Bess and Belle would gang up on Reigh, which he loved. He loved when both of the were chasing him, and the noises, at times, would have convinced you there were tigers fighting, but no one was ever bitten, even by accident. Reigh lost an eye, but it was to glaucoma not a fight, and he barely skipped a step when it happened. He was a big, tough boy.
Then we found that Belle had cancer, and we lost her, just a few days shy of her 12th birthday, to bladder cancer. We wept, and truthfully still do sometimes. She was the best dog I have ever had.
Then, a few months later, we lost Bess to what was probably pancreatic cancer, at nine.
To say it was a terrible year doesn’t even begin to cover it.
And then we took in Jake and CJ, the corgis, and Reigh was big man, alpha over Jake, totally ignored by CJ. We lost CJ summer before last, at 15.
And then today, Mr. Reigh made his last trek to the same office where he drew his first breath. They were as kind to him then as they were that November day 12 years ago. They found a mass in his stomach, no doubt some version of the same cancer that killed both of my others. Scotties develop cancer more than most breeds.
He was really only ill for a couple of days. He gave no indication of being sick until he stopped eating on Wednesday night, but by this morning he was clearly miserable, and ready for a rest, and then a long game of chase somewhere over the rainbow bridge with his sister and his mother, and he will like that very much.
He is buried in the yard, with Belle and Bess and CJ, and the last of the roses in my garden.
Someone told me once that the only things I ever fell in love with on first sigh, unconditionally, was my dogs, and they were right.
He was my best boy, Mr Reigh-gun, Mr. Man, the barkiest, the stubbornest, the best boy in the whole wide world, and I will miss him and his mother and his sister forever.