no one can replace you

About ten years ago, we owned a rottweiler. She was the biggest, sweetest, kindest dog in the world, and I called her Mabel. She was a backyard bred dog, and I know you’re not supposed to buy them, but if we don’t, then who does? The dogs are born, someone needs to love them. And I truly did. When we went to get her, she was the last one left, and they told us, she had also been the biggest in the litter.

She was a real teddy bear. Round and soft with huge paws.

I had always wanted a big dog. I loved rotties. I loved everything about them, their size, their colouring, their loyalty and their beauty. Mabel changed a lot of people’s opinions on rottweilers. She loved the girls deeply, and we spent a lot of time teaching her and them to be gentle with each other.

Mabel outgrew the girls incredibly fast. She outgrew me! By the time she was fully grown, she weighed more than I did, and wanted desperately to be a lapdog. She settled for having her head in my lap, or if I was on the couch and would lay across my feet for the rest of the night.

There was not an agressive bone in her body. She loved to be close to us, and every night before bed, she would make her rounds from Siobhan’s room to Aleeya’s, making sure the girls were safe and tucked into bed before she’d stop and finish the cat food and then take herself off to the kitchen where she slept.

She loved everything and everyone and everyone loved her too. Her favourite place in the world though, was Nelson beach. Every time we went there, she was just in pure bliss. It was always so great to see her charging out of the sea towards us when we called her. She was probably a terrifying sight for some people. But this face still makes my heart ache with happiness.

Mabel had a lot of health problems, due to poor breeding, but the worst of them showed when she was two years old. She got hip dysplasia and severe arthritis. She was in agony, and so were we. We kept her for another few months, until we knew it was time.

I couldn’t even get out of bed that day. I remember hearing her feet on the floorboards as Ollie led her to the car, and I just couldn’t face it. It’s making me cry again just thinking about it. He was so brave. We just held each other and cried when he came home. We had her cremated and I have kept her ashes for the past ten years. Every so often, I’d open the box and touch them while I talked to her.

We’ve been talking about getting another dog. I haven’t been able to truly even consider this before now. It was time however, to let her go. I took her with us to Nelson a few months ago when we went up to visit and we drove down to the beach and I let her go in small handfuls as I walked down to the water. Her last walk. She loved that beach. We all took the remaining handfuls and scattered her into the waves. I cried.

That’s her. The lighter trail of sand you can see. I really didn’t think I’d cry when I let her go. It’s been ten years after all, but I did. It was hard walking back up beside that trail. She’d have wanted to be there though. There was no better resting place for her, than the beach she loved the best. She would have been twelve years old now and I had always expected her to have been with us for at least that long. I felt good too though, to let go finally. Sweet Mabel. She was my big beautiful nursey girl.

Free now Mabes. I’ll never forget you.

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