Gael "La-Roo" Atwater ~ July 25, 2009 - December 30, 2016
Did you know that I loved you, my bright, wild girl? Did you know the sun rose in your "ain't this fun?" smile and the stars twinkled in your shining eyes? Did you know that I loved every hair on your silly, impulsive, reactive, joyful self and every molecule of your dear body? Did you know that when I saw you run, a lithe, athletic missile leaping across the fields and hills with the kind of joyful abandon most never know ... my heart soared with you?
Did you know that even when I felt sure you communed with faeries and danced with pixies who whispered you ridiculous things, I still loved you? Did you know that when you ran out on your huge, hill-encompassing outrun, racing the wind on the clever paws of a thousand generations of sheepdogs - and totally missed your sheep - I still loved you? Did you know how much you taught me, how much you had to show me about learning a sheepdog's ways? Did you know that no matter what you ever did, whether we succeeded on the trial field or walked off to try again another day, I still loved you?
Do you know, my precious girl, how very, very much you will be missed? Why, why did you have to go?
My beloved Gael enjoyed a fantastic hike with friends on Wednesday last. That night she seemed a little "off," but I attributed it to tiredness and maybe a bit of over-doing-it. Yesterday morning she seemed oddly stiff and sore, but she was still in good spirits. I left her home while I went working dogs, figuring she might have tweaked something amidst her fun and just needed rest and maybe a visit to the dog chiropractor later.
This morning she didn't even get out of bed. The look in her eyes was a decade older than she was. I took her to the vet first thing. Apparently she had some sort of GI tract infection, origins unknown. Her heart, lungs, kidneys and liver values were all good, but her white blood count was catastrophically low. She also had a fever which spiked at 107 and though they got it down some, her body could not cope. She died in my arms. The vet will do a postmortem, hoping for answers. But there is no reason why. There is only the fact that my silly, fey, beautiful little Gael is gone. I don't think the other dogs have realized that just yet.
My friends, remember to love your furry companions with all your heart. Hold them close, always. Forgive them their imperfections as they forgive yours, for dogs are the closest things we'll ever know to God walking on this earth.