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Epitaph for a Dog: Georgie Girl


March 1992-April 2006 

Georgie died Wednesday night, April 26, 2006.

Georgie Girl - named for the song - was a Bouvier-cross bitch who came to us the week before Passover 1993, when she was a year old. We'd seen her in the neighborhood, always using the cross walks, but didn't realize she was lost. It was only when she tried to force her way into our yard we knew something was wrong.

In time we pieced her story together. Her mother was indeed a Bouvier called Madonna belonging to a local entrepreneur named Markman, her grandfather Wilem a national champion, but no one had a clue who the father was. Her mother's owner decided to keep only two of the eight pups and gave these up to a local plant nursery for adoption after they were weaned. The male pup grew up to become the undisputed terror of the Department of Marine Pollution's beach compound and was named "Mess" by them.

The female spent some time at a tank farm where cooking gas tanks were stored. At some point she was adopted by a man named Nissim, who named her Jill. She was stolen from him, apparently by a gang of dog thieves who raid Eilat for purebreds every few months; she seemed to have been groomed for sale but then dumped. For at least two weeks she wandered our neighborhood, surviving on handouts from the local butcher and school children's sandwiches; she loved pickles, and could clean out a melon rind better than any spoon. Then she began to sicken with Mediterranean Tick Fever, and desperately looked for a home. She found us.

Our neighbor Brigitta wanted to take her to the animal shelter, but she was a big dog (30 kg./67.5 lbs.) and we knew from our vet the shelter was overwhelmed with dogs and parvo at that time. So we took her into our back, 'quarantine' yard until the shelter or her owners could take her; Emanuel [my husband] saying we'd keep her for one week, which is how she came to be our "one-week dog". She stayed for 13 years and one month.

Emanuel used to say that Mazoth must have sent her, and indeed she shared many characteristics of both Mazoth and Joel, Emanuel and Ruby's [his late wife] original mini-Schnauzers. She became my best friend and companion, playmate, bodyguard and comforter. I named her Georgie Girl for the line "Walking down the street so fancy free/ Nobody you meet could ever see the loneliness there, inside you." We survived ups and downs, got middle-aged together and generally rode shot-gun on each other. When I took her for a walk she would warn off all dogs and any man I talked to whom she didn't know; she did the same with Emanuel if he stopped to talk to a strange woman! I once caught her lifting her lip at someone on the side away from me, after I'd told her not to! She could be counted on to protect Muffin, her terrier kennel-mate, to the point where he - like many a child before him - wised-up to the benefits of having a BIG sister and tried to start trouble for her to finish.

Of late she was on medication for dysplasia, but even so she was slowing down. I had already asked for a house-call from our vets when she had a seizure, just before dinner. She gave a distress bark; when I went to pick her up she couldn't move, then rolled on her side. I called the vets again and Michael, my husband's caregiver, and I moved her next to Emanuel so he could just touch her, calming her.

The vets came in ten minutes flat, but all they could do was diagnose total systemic failure. Even so, she still put up a fight. I asked for a shot to ease her final moments, which they gave. It was over in less than an hour. She was the equivalent of 99 years old.

They found someone who would help bury her. So good-deed-doer, Dr. Guy and I went up to the hills to find a suitable place. Anyone who has been out in the desert at 9 o'clock at night to dig a hole can guess what followed: first we couldn't find the right kind of channel or ditch, then we did but the ground around it was rock hard, then we found a depression walled in by construction debris. This was excellent, as it provided much earth, rock and a concrete slab to cover her, and so much dust that we looked like a whirlwind and were powdered tan by the time we headed home.*

At first it didn't hit, but Georgie had been my last concern at night and first consideration every morning for a very long time. That night and at any odd moment it strikes: starting to fill an unneeded water bowl; the box of rice cakes I got for her at Passover, though she happily demolished matzah; waking up and thinking: "Will it be too hot to walk her by 10?"; preparing dinner, only to find there's no one to save the vegetable ends for, or peel the lettuce heart; passing the fridge and thinking: "I'll have to give her the pills with margarine tonight."; going into the bedroom and slowing down in case she's lying in her favorite place, around the corner between Emanuel's bed and the dresser.

Instead there's just the single line of Marvin Gaye's song running through my head: "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone…"

I don't know what God has in store for us, but he made us all and whatever it is it cannot be less than good. Georgie made me smile, laugh; she increased my capacity to enjoy life, to understand animals and people, to laugh at myself, and to love. These are gifts beyond price, and will never be lost. Nor will my memory of her, which I bless.


* Lou, a big (St. Bernard-Shepherd cross) and big-hearted neighborhood dog, died at Passover exactly a week before Georgie Girl. He was 12. He was buried much the same way, and is sorely missed by his family and friends - of whom I was one. 



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