Our Sweet Petra May 16, 2005 to September 18, 2020

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.

Six weeks old– our first meeting

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.

Petra’s 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.

Dressed up and ready for a Therapy Dog visit to a school

Happy 15th Birthday, Petra!

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Happy Birthday to our Petra Sweetie!

Here are a few recent photos of our sweet Petra. She’s doing wonderfully for her age; she sleeps more, is mostly deaf, and is a bit arthritic, but she still walks a few miles with me most days and runs and plays and keeps Ramble in line. After nearly losing Petra a couple of times due to illness or injury, we are grateful for every day we have with her and we’re hoping to have plenty more days, months, and even years with her.

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Happy Birthday, Petra!

It doesn’t seem possible, but my sweet Petra is eleven today. She doesn’t act her age, but she has settled down a little. I haven’t seen her leaping up trees recently, and she hasn’t soared off any cliffs as she once did with her friend Lucy (really a rock outcropping about six feet high, but it seemed like a cliff when the two dogs were midair and we were watching them fly from over our heads) , but she is still always up for action, always ready to charge across the yard, always eager for a walk or hike. She also loves to snuggle on my lap while I have my first cup of tea in the morning, and she sings her happy songs to Stephen every day. I’ve never had a dog who sings quite so eloquently as Petra does, and we enjoy her whole variety of songs that express emotions from sad to contented to overcome with joy.

Happy Birthday, Petra Sweetie! I love the combination of energy, joy, and love you add to our home, and I am thankful for you every day.

Here are a few pictures I took today of my happy birthday girl.

Petra, Come! 🙂
Milo, Petra, and Rowan

Moonlight Bright…

I opened my eyes to see moonlight splashed bright across my warm comforter, then turned to see the clock – 3:00AM . I snuggled into my pillow, pulled up the comforter crisscrossed by clear lines of light and shadow from windowpanes and mullions, and closed my eyes, but it was no use. The brightness of the moon had danced into my mind and now called to me, insisting I join her.

I slipped quietly from bed, slid into muck shoes and a fleece, and, taking Petra with me, stepped silently out into the light of night. Frosty grass sparkled, bright beside deep shadows of trees crossing the yard. The moon, full round and white, hung in the southern sky, obscuring nearly all stars around her. To the north I could make out the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia, but most stars had yielded to the brilliance of the moon.

All was still. Not a sound, not a breath of wind. Just the world in black and white and shades of gray, with the fresh tang of frost fully awakening my spirit. Alert, I thought to walk, but I sensed that, like all nature around, I had to be still. And so I stood, Petra silent beside me, moonlight falling bright on us, shadows long behind us, filling my soul, calming my being.

Full Moon Over Pond

This painting, “Full Moon,” is currently featured in my Etsy shop.

Nine years ago today…

Nine years ago, a little red puppy was born. I didn’t meet her until three weeks later, when I fell in love with a small, sweet puppy who snuggled into my arms and fell asleep.

That may have been a ploy on her part, as that was the last time we saw her asleep until several years had passed.

 Years full of running…

playing with friends…


jumping for joy…

leaping up trees…

 watching for us to come home

being a little sister to Rowan…


snuggling on laps…

and being a faithful shadow..

I can’t imagine life without this little red dog. She is my companion whenever I slip out at night to savor the starlight or walk under the full moon. She curls quietly beside my chair whenever I sit to read. She has a contagious way of living fully in the moment that helps me see and experience the fullness of life. With all her idiosyncrasies and quirks, she occupies a unique spot in our home, and with all her devotion and love, she fills our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Petra, and may you have many more years of exuberance and joy!

Happy Birthday, Petra!

We started out the day as we do most days, with Petra snuggling on my lap while I read and had my morning tea. Then the games began; Petra has her friends Roark and Tallulah visiting for her birthday, so today is full of Aussie fun.

Rowan, Roark, Tallulah, Petra (back to front)

Petra does everything fast, so birthday fun for her means running (almost too fast to be seen)…
(If you click the photos, you can see them bigger.)

and playing chase…

and leaping in the air…

That was a fun party with friends!

Tallulah, Petra, Roark, Rowan

Happy Birthday, Petra Sweetie! You bring me joy and love every day, and I adore you.

Petra’s Peregrinations

Petra is my live wire. Rarely tired, Petra could be on the go all day long and still look for more to do. As I type, she’s dribbling a tennis ball by bouncing it on the floor, catching it, bouncing it again, and so on. Sometimes she lies flat on her side, looking calm, but rolling a tennis ball in circles with a front paw, all the time staring at it, until apparently it suddenly needs to be grabbed, at which point she leaps to her feet and takes the ball captive.

All three of my dogs are enthusiastic about their meal times, and I love the different ways they express their eagerness for me to finish dishing out their kibble, each in a way that reflects their own personality. Rowan sits close to my right side, his nose under my elbow, as I reach into the bin to scoop up the food. His front paws dance slightly up and down and he trembles with contained energy, but he doesn’t otherwise move or make a sound. Milo dances with his whole body, leaping into the air, flipping his head and ears, and baying with uncontained excitement.

Petra peregrinates. As soon as I reach into the bin, while Rowan quivers and Milo bays, Petra trots off in the opposite direction, heading down the hall, through the living room, through the kitchen and back to me. She pauses, surveys the situation, then sets off on her circling again. In the past few weeks I’ve been saying, “Petra peregrinate!” as she starts off, and now she is starting to peregrinate on cue if I tell her to at other times during the day. There’s no good reason for the command “Peregrinate,” except that it is fun for Petra and makes me laugh. It fascinates me to see how, like Milo, Petra turns her excitement into motion, but unlike Milo, her enthusiasm is expressed in a calm and contained manner.

Petra has finished her dribbling and has moved on to practice her back spin, something she has begun working on recently. She places a front paw firmly on the ball, grabs at it with her nails, then pulls her paw back and down hard and fast, causing the ball to shoot out from under her paw, but with a strong back spin so it quickly moves back toward her, at which point she pounces on it and repeats the game.

Petra is a fun, fun dog to have around, always thinking, always ready and eager to work with me, always willing to do some problem-solving.