I’ve been grappling with something for ten months. It was August of last year when Darby was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, and only a couple short weeks later when we put her down. I had intended to write a retrospective post about her life, and started to do so a few times, but I could never find a way to cover eleven years properly.
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that, where a dog is concerned, pictures speak much louder than words. In the gallery for each year below, click any image to scroll through it in an overlay.
We adopted Darby in early 2003 at 14 weeks of age. What likely sticks out amongst the mosaic below is the ear(s). At first both stuck up and then one flopped. She was left with the distinct right spiky ear for the rest of her life. At one point in her first year while we still had to crate her when we weren’t home, she pulled a duvet into her crate and emerged from a cloud of down feathers when we let her out. I wish I had a picture of that …
As evidenced by these first two years, Darby loved water … and playing … and games. Grabbing another dog’s ball, giving a friendly paw cuff and running away was one of her favourite things to do to other dogs when she was young. You’ll see that we had a small redirection harness for walks. It wasn’t just in her build that she resembled a small horse, as we often thought the only thing missing was hooves. She was as strong as an ox and built like a pony. She was fast and loved to run and you could literally feel the ground rumble when she was galloping your way. We also started a decade-long tradition of putting a silly santa hat on her during the festive season.
The galleries for 2005 and beyond get smaller. This one in particular, while small, has some of my favourite pictures of her. Specifically, the two with her massive tongue hanging close to a foot from her mouth really speak to the exuberant young dog she was at the time. As well, I think the picture of Connie and Darby snuggling, and the one of Darby trying to eat my head, both just give me the warmest of feelings. She was a lovable goof in every sense of the term.
As there are fewer photos of these years, I’ve blended them together. Around mid-life, at age 3-7, you’d think a dog would begin to mature. In Darby’s case you’d be wrong and we were still wondering as late as 6, if she was ever going to grow up. I’ve tried to include some different things in this gallery. Still some hats and santa get-ups. One time when we had friends over, you can see how she’d just lay on the ground and let small children roll around on her. I’ve never seen a dog with a more beautiful temperament. She was never cranky, nor can I ever remembering her snap.
You can see the mature appearance starting to show in her face during mid-life. She was beginning to really enjoy lounging more as she hit these years, on the few designated pieces of furniture she was allowed on. She’d also begun covering her snout with her paw like a cozy when she was lazing and sleeping.
Not getting old yet by any means, a little grey was creeping into the snout fur at this point. While she was always excitable and could get wired on a moments’ notice, she was beginning to slow down a little as she hit 8-9. There was more sleeping and her life had a slower pace to it. This gallery goes from snow in February 2011 to Christmas 2012. There’s still the requisite santa pictures, but I think this may be the only time we tried a Rudolph nose on her. It didn’t last long. I particularly like the closeup pictures of her sleeping with the intense pic of her waiting for a car ride sandwiched in between.
While we had no idea early in the year, given how healthy she’d been, we’d only have a little over eight months of 2013 with Darby. The last six pictures below, including any where she’s wearing a red harness, were taken after we knew we’d be putting her down shortly. Late August and very early September (and in fact, right through Christmas) were brutally tough weeks in our house.