My oldest sister brought her home after her first year of University in Winnipeg. I was 13 years old. I vividly recall my surprise at seeing a small pup with messy black hair playing around in the front yard. I also remember the reaction from my parents. Why would someone in university get a dog? I was too young to question it, but I can see why they did.
Growing up on the farm, we only had large dogs and many stray cats. We never had a small dog like Abby, so it was a novelty for us when she visited. We loved playing with her. My youngest sister used to pretend that she was marrying Abby. She would organize a ceremony with stuffed animal guests and everything. In retrospect, it’s hilarious to recall. At the time, being the annoying older brother I was, I used to crash the wedding and steal Abby as my bride instead.
Abby Peaches, as she was nicknamed, had quite the journey from that moment. During the few years she spent with my sister she had a couple different homes and had to tolerate several roommates and boyfriends. At times her hair got so long in between hair cuts she practically resembled a mop. Somehow she was able to see through all the fur covering her eyes.
She had quite a few strange quirks. For one, she would howl endlessly whenever she heard the song “Promiscuous Girl” by Nelly Furtado. Just the sound of someone humming the melody was enough for her to start an uproar. It’s the strangest thing. I liked to imagine she truly was promiscuous and was singing along to her theme song. If only dogs could talk.
She also had a strange relationship with toys that had a squeaker. For some reason the sound drove her nuts and she wouldn’t rest until the squeaker no longer worked. After successfully tearing the toy in two, her bottom jaw would tremble at a ridiculously high rate. It was funny at first, but eventually we stopped buying her toys to ruin.
After a few years my sister moved into a place which didn’t allow dogs. Given no other options Abby would change caretakers for the first time when my Mom reluctantly took her in. Despite my Mom’s hesitance, Abby was loved and cared for diligently.
Eventually my Mom decided to get another dog and things got a little difficult. Simply put, the two of them didn’t get along. Both dogs had to be separated continuously with fences otherwise a fight to the death would commence. My Mom had no choice but to try to find another home for Abby.
It just so happened my wife and I were moving into our first house while this was happening. I recall my Mom calling me and letting me know she would try to put Abby up for adoption. Both my wife and I didn’t want that to happen, so we decided to take Abby in. We would be the caretaker for the rest of her life, although I think she did more caretaking of us than we did of her.
In the beginning, we would take her for a walk every few days. She wasn’t the easiest dog to walk though. She would pull and pull and pull. By the end of a brief walk, my shoulder felt like it may pop out. She would pant hard as pulling so aggressively make it difficult for her to catch her breath. She loved it though. Simply saying the word “walk” would make her ears perk up. She’d then run to her leash and prance around waiting for someone to connect it with her collar.
She knew a few tricks as well. She would give you a “kiss”, she would roll over, she would shake a paw, and a few others. She’d often try to do all of them at once. We’d always reward her with a jerky treat.
Even before she was our dog, I always had a soft spot for Abby. She was an effortless pet to take care of. She was loving, but also enjoyed alone time.
She had a tendency to ‘escape.’ Leaving the door slightly ajar was enough for Abby to get the courage to burst into our front yard and start galloping down the street. She would even dig holes in the backyard to get under the fence. I thought maybe she didn’t like staying with us, but she always came home. There were times we didn’t even realized she had left, only to hear her barking at the front door, waiting to get back inside.
Abby was an incredibly healthy dog as well. Besides a hernia she had removed at a young age, she never required a vet visit. We gave her wet food in the mornings and dry food in the evenings. She was the lowest maintenance dog I ever knew.
A couple of years after taking Abby in, we’d welcome our first daughter Rey. 6 years later we’d welcome our second, Drew.
When we first brought Rey home, Abby was relentless in sniffing her face. We worried Abby may not be able to handle having a little kid around, but she adjusted quickly despite Rey always pulling on her hair. By the time Drew was born, Abby didn’t seem to mind the company.
Abby was with us through it all. As our family grew, Abby was content with less attention. She was no longer the subject of our Instagram accounts and relished in being able to sleep on the sunny part of the couch everyday undisturbed.
Later on, Jackie’s parents moved in with us and Abby enjoyed their company. The number of treats she received likely tripled. She would go from person to person begging for a treat and we’d all give her one. In the beginning we didn’t know we were being tricked, but eventually we decided she had earned them anyways.
Over 10 years after we had brought her into our home, Abby began to show her wear at the old age of 18 years. I am now 31. Her vision started to worsen and her eyes faded from a dark black to a pale blue colour. Her hearing wained as well. She wandered around the house a little slower, her back legs forming a wider and wider base. Stairs became an issue.
Despite all this, she would still excitedly stand by the pantry awaiting her morning meal. In those early moments of the day, it was like she was young again. She jumped around, brushed up against my leg, ran back and forth from her bowl to wherever I was standing. After eating, she would go to sleep until the next day.
Over the past couple of years, there’s been a few times where we thought Abby may have reached the end of her life. She would stop eating, barely move, and have trouble breathing. We would all tearfully gather around her and give her as many pats as we could. We’d prepare for her goodbye, doubting whether she would make it through the night. To our surprise, she was waiting eagerly for her morning meal the next morning. A few days would pass and it was like it never happened. Time and time again she fought through ailments.
I always worried that she would say goodbye while we were out of town, but she held on. A few days after getting back from a recent work trip, Abby’s body started to shut down. She started to shake, her breathing was hurried and she was coughing up phlegm. As we had done several times before, we gave her many pats and cuddled with her throughout the evening. Even though I should’ve been worried about her not making through the night, I had confidence she would pull through like she has time and time again.
The next morning, I was happy to see her lying on her blanket. It seemed like she was a little better. I let her outside and fed her wet food. She didn’t excited gallop to the bowl this time, in fact, she never even approached it. We placed her on her blanket to rest. She looked up at me once more.
As I left her I had the faintest hope that maybe she had more time. But she had no more fight left.
Abby passed away peacefully while resting on March 7th, 2023 at 11:30AM.
The hole she leaves behind is large. She’s been alive for over half of my life and has been loved by several generations of our family, from my Mom down to my two kids. She brought so much love into our lives just by being around. Over half of her life was spent with us and I’m incredibly thankful for her warm presence.
For me and my wife, she was our first baby. She was our first mutual love. She taught us how to take care of another living being. Whatever we were going through, Abby was there. She was family.
I used to say I never got to choose my first dog and that Abby was chosen for me, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to find a better dog than her. Given the chance now, there’s no doubt that I would choose her time and time again.
The house is a little more quiet these days. I keep expecting to see her sleeping away on her blanket, rolling around on the carpet trying to scratch her back, or begging for a treat at the pantry. I can almost still hear the clicking of her nails on the hardwood floors. I miss the breath of fresh air I would get when letting her outside. The blankets on the couch have only the faintest smell of her scent.
While she may be gone now, she holds a place in our hearts and always will. Rest in peace, Abby Peaches.
Our promiscuous girl.