I knew nothing about Australian Shepherds when Shannon told me about a litter of Aussies in Chesapeake. We were looking for a companion for our feral dog Abbey. When we went to the huge property the pups were at Shannon fell in love with another puppy but I wanted the little girl rolling in her own poop because she was playing so hard. I gently pressed to get her and Shannon agreed. When we brought the pup home she screamed as we left the farm she was born on. Shannon wanted me to take her back but of course we never turned around. Like many big choices in our life we were not prepared for her when we got her. We had to go straight to Petsmart and get a kennel and all her supplies. We named her Lily…..with one “l”.
I had never had a dog that enamored herself to me. She was a puffball and the first couple nights we had her I slept on the floor next to her. I eventually put her kennel next to my bed and hung my hand in the cage touching her to calm her at night. She was a handful as a pup. She was destructive but her face always saved her with me. One day she kept making noises driving Shannon crazy so I decided to take her outside and go for a run. I had just started running and was not over excited about it but needed to do it. That day I took her on a mile run and when we came hame I thought I killed her because she panted so long and hard. I learned that day that she had no quit. You had to make her stop or she would go until her heart popped. We started running daily rain, snow or shine. We ran up to five miles a day for a couple of years. I was always at ease when her and I ran. She always lead. Any problems I had on a given day fell away when the Bears and I ran.
The relationship with Abbey, her dog buddy, was fair at best. the dogs liked each other but rarely played together. Abbey was a sweetheart but had feral drawbacks. She would from time to time violently attack Lily. Lily was much smaller but she always took the fight to Abbey and even though Abbey was often the clear winner it was Lily you had to pull off her exhausted sister. We were at a Petsmart one day when two large male Aussies attacked Lily. Lily left both of the boys bleeding and not wanting to continue the fight. I didn’t like the fact that she had to fight but it illustrates more that she did not know the word quit. She was always outsized but it made no difference to her.
Lily always made me smile. She smiled all the time. I am not kidding when I say she smiled. When you would pet her it was clear you were making her happy. Lily loved the beach and chasing tennis balls. That girl could jump great heights to catch a ball and would bring it right back covered in sand. Lily would have a mouth full of sand too but she did not care because she was playing.
When Abbey died Lily moved to our new home and really enjoyed being an only dog. She would walk around Emmas friends in the yard waiting for someone to drop a snack and if they did not pay close enough attention she would steal it. A little girl name Maddy was playing in our yard while I was on the patio with Lily. A worker building the neighbor’s house cam into our yard to grab some debris. The worker got too close to Maddy and Lily launched between the child and adult and made it clear he was going no further. Lily was very protective.
After several months of solo dog Lily would gain a Great Dane sister. Lily quickly warmed up to her and finally had a dog that “played” with her. Lily was greatly outsized but the Dane knew Lily was the alpha. In recent months the near 14-year-old girls hips failed, her sight failed and her mind failed. Lily would go out in the dark to pee and we would send Neffie (our Dane) to get her. Neffie would stand guard over Lily as she relieved herself. Knife struggled when Lily was gone so we got another Dane puppy to be her companion when the inevitable happened. Lily, even in a very weakened state, held the alpha over both Danes. Lily tried her best to play with the puppy but she would fall to the ground.
Lily made everyday a good day. Lily owned me. I love her so much and this next passage kills me. She was very light. She could not keep weight on. The vet offered some options to help but they did not take. She had large sores on both hip bones and it hurt for her to lay down. Lily never liked couches, beds or blankets and the hard word had to hurt her. She recently reached the point where she could not get up off the floor and that was the end. Neffie would not let me take her to the vet for the last trip. Neffie blocked me from her and kept running to Lily. When we made it to the vet Lily was defiant. The vet said letting her go was the best choice. Shannon knew this to be true and I knew it to be true but I needed the vet to say it. I stayed with her until the end. She never quit. She needed sedatives to make her lay down and even in passing refused to close her eyes. Lily never, ever quit. This dog is inspiring. She is a living metaphor on how to approach life.
We apply human traits to animals but they make a difference in our lives. Pets brings up when the world wants to pull us down. Lily loved me every single day. Lily never gave up on me. Lily pushed through two Great Danes to greet me even in her final days. She hurt but forced herself up because she loved me. I love her and will never have the hole she left filled. I sang her to sleep with a song a made up for her and the song’s title says it all “Their ain’t none better than the Bears”.
Friends love your family pet or human because life is as they say too damn short.