I don’t know when we added the “Miss” onto Scarlett’s name. It just seemed fitting and, when once used, it stuck forever. Miss Scarlett. She’s always been a beauty, so perhaps that’s why adding the distinction of her station seemed only proper.
Except she’s not at all prissy or all girly-girly like the kind of dog one is compelled to dress in pink sweaters and hair bows. Rather, she’s kind of klunky and ungainly. She’s more large bone than high prance. Her gait is thick and heavy; an unusual Golden Retriever who neither retrieves nor willingly steps into water for a swim. There’s never been much sprightly about Miss Scarlett. She does, however, have a lilting bark that sounds something like music.
If Miss Scarlett could have a human equivalent, I think she would be like Julia Childs … large and clumsy, yet altogether delightful with her high, trilling voice and laughter that always spins your heart rightward. Yes. She would be a magnificent woman, boning chickens and stirring up kitchen scents to die for.
She would make French pastry. And Beef Bourguignon. But unlike Julia, her kitchen would be filled with song!
Miss Scarlett is slowing more each day. Her hips bedevil her now with terrible unremitting pain. We give her medication twice a day to help, but we can see the pain is gaining over her. She’s down now to twenty paces at the most before needing to curl over her legs to recover from the effort of those twenty small and wincing steps. When once she gaily followed me all over the house, tail waving behind like a big red flag, she now only follows if she knows I’ll be somewhere for a while.
It’s tough watching her slow, but steady decline. We’re pretty sure this will be her swan Christmas. We’ll try to make it special for her — a good and meaty knuckle bone sure to give hours of chewing pleasure, a new stuffed toy, a bag of special organic cookies. This coming Monday she’s being treated to a doggy spa day with her favorite groomer.
Then on Christmas morning … we’ll sit in front of the fire and I’ll read a selection from Tennyson:
- The wild swan’s death-hymn took the soul
- Of that waste place with joy
- Hidden in sorrow: at first to the ear
- The warble was low, and full and clear; …
- But anon her awful jubilant voice,
- With a music strange and manifold,
- Flow’d forth on a carol free and bold;
- As when a mighty people rejoice
- With shawms, and with cymbals, and harps of gold…
Then we’ll hold each other and we’ll sing … and sing.