|Mardi Gras Adieu|
Mardi Gras never thought of herself as a dog let alone a poodle. When she first came into my life 16, almost 17 years ago, I had Mariah, an alpha German Shepherd. She immediately appointed herself boss. And after my head injury, even my boss. She raised Magique, the labradoodle, and trained her to my unspoken specifications. After all, Mariah had trained her before her departure.
Together Mardi and Magique became my photography dogs. They hopped joyfully in jeeps or trucks. They knew not to chase and to stand quietly when I stopped on a walk and raised my camera. They ran through the woods but always returned when called.
Four years ago Mardi seemed to lose it. Episodes of not coming when called or seemingly getting lost on walks signaled a liver dysfunction. Our vet prescribed vitamin e and milk thistle. She immediately responded and for the remaining years of her long life became the dog she had been. But still there were occasional bouts of disorientation. Magique appointed herself leader of the pack and caretaker of her older friend. I could ask Magique to find Mardi if she went astray on a walk and she would; leading her back to me.
A couple years ago walking closer to home Mardi vanished. When I asked Magique to find Mardi she ran back down the block and pointed down to the ground. I thought both my loyal companions had lost it. But Magique was right. Mardi had fallen into a crumbling abandoned septic tank. It took the local fire department volunteers to get her out.She danced with joy and gratitude. And thanked her rescuers after first thanking Magique.
I knew her days were numbered when she no longer wanted to go on the morning walk with Magique and I. She had been my dancing dog and she no longer could dance. But she had taken such good care of me for years and I could not easily let her go. For the last couple of days before I took Mardi on her last journey Magique, appointed caretaker of her friend, would talk to me in the mornings. She can be quite a talker with a wide vocal range. They were protracted tales of woe, but I was slow to get her meaning.
Magique and I now take our walks alone.