We said good-bye to our sweet Petra yesterday evening. She had been aging but otherwise doing great until late Thursday evening; a week ago she even went on a three mile hike with us in the woods at Taconic Hereford, a place she has always loved. I’m so thankful we took the time for what we didn’t know would be her last hike. She was even playing with Ramble earlier Thursday evening and trotting happily around the house while I prepared the animals’ dinners. Then something suddenly changed and she went rapidly downhill. By yesterday evening it was apparent that she was telling us it was time for us to let her go in peace.
I fell in love with Petra when I first met her when she was three weeks old and fell asleep in my arms. When I brought her home at eight weeks, she immediately bonded with Stephen and he with her. Then she met Rowan, who was enchanted with his little sister. She was less enchanted with him at that first meeting, and promptly put him in his place, but then, respect having been established, they bonded deeply for life.
Petra was so always so full of life, leaping up trees, running full tilt through woods, playing with Rowan, Milo, and more recently Ramble. She loved people and was a fabulous therapy dog, listening to elementary children as they read to her and talked to her, and demonstrating obedience and doing tricks when she and I did programs for school assemblies. When I sometimes couldn’t sleep or was just drawn outside by the beauty of moonlit nights, Petra was always my first choice for a quiet nocturnal companion as I walked around the yard listening to the sounds of the night and watching for fleeting shadows of the wild denizens of our land.
Petra also had a tender side that drew out a matching tenderness in many people, especially Stephen, whom Petra adored. They would sit on the floor together, face to face, holding long eye contact, as Steve petted Petra and she “sang” to him with happy dog sounds. She was always so gentle with our cats, “petting” them with a front paw, or licking their ears, which they seemed to like. She used to lick Rowan’s ears, too, and he would groan with appreciation while she licked one ear, then he would turn his head for her to lick his other ear. I remember one time when Milo found a rabbit’s nest and started devouring the baby bunnies. I quickly called him away and took him to the house, where I found a squirming baby bunny that Petra had gently carried up and put on the doorstep, presumably so I could protect it.
Petra also had an intensity that showed itself in various ways. She was always vigilant, which meant she was a fabulous watchdog, always keeping an eye on who was coming or going. She was intensely bonded to all of us in the family, and if Stephen or I was out, she would usually sit by the door watching for us to come home, no matter how long we were out. If I told her one of our children was coming home from college and would soon be arriving, she would run to the door and sit watchfully, waiting for even an hour or two for them to arrive, then would leap with great joy. And in her younger years Petra chewed Nylabones so intensely that she chewed them to sharp points—we called it her dagger collection.
There was so much more that is running through my mind like a kaleidoscope of memories and images. Petra was a strong and vibrant presence in our home for over fifteen years, and her passing leaves a giant hole in our lives. Thank you, Sweet Petra, for all you were to us. We love you and miss you.