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Saturday, September 12, 2015



Today I buried the best dog in the world.  Her name was Giggles and she was a 15 pound miniature Dachshund who had been a member of our family all but six weeks of her long, wonderful, and loving life.  We got her in late 2000 shortly after my wife Candice had progressed into a wheelchair due to a rare, genetic, degenerative disease which had begun in the middle 1990's when she was in her middle 20's. Giggles would have been fifteen if she had lived until December.  Candice had a great deal of depression early in her disease progression.  When we got Giggles, she proceeded to spend the great majority of her life in Candice's lap or walking between the wheels and behind the axle of her wheelchair on their many trips to Old Mill Park in our home town of West Liberty, KY, where they often went to exercise.  Giggles learned very rapidly that the best way to avoid being nipped by the wheelchair wheels required her to stay between the wheels when the chair was in motion.  When Candice would stop rolling, Giggles would come around to the front of the chair, climb on the footplate and then into Candice's lap which was her favorite place in the world.  I have always said that she was the best untrained therapy dog in the world.  I gradually came to simply call her The Best Dog In The World and she was.  She was a bundle of joy and boundless energy.  She went nearly everywhere we did except to work. And we developed a habit, if we were leaving her at home to tell her "we are going to work" no matter where we went.  She traveled a great deal of the Eastern United States with us by car and it never mattered where we were so long as Candice and her wheelchair were there Giggles was absolutely dependable in any situation.  She loved me too and I loved her just as much as Candice did.  But in her heart, Giggles had a seven day a week job taking care of her "Mommy".  But until she got too old to climb up into my pickup, she would meet me at the top of our driveway, if she and Candice were in the yard when I came home.  And then she would climb in the seat with me behind the steering wheel and greet me with a "howl fest" which we both loved to do generally to the accompaniment of my favorite Bluegrass music.  She slept in the bed with us every night and loved to spend long hours in Candice's lap in a recliner under a quilt.  Candice continued to work for ten years in our local food stamp office after she progressed into the chair and Giggles was a major part of that accomplishment.  She was much more than a dog.  She was a family member.  In the fall of 2010, she survived a stroke which temporarily disabled her entire left side and we thought at the onset that she would not survive that event.  So, in reality, we had known for five years that she was on borrowed time.  But we were not anywhere near ready to see her go.  She developed serious intestinal problems late last night and went downhill rapidly.  There is no real late night emergency veterinary services in our area and we were hoping she could hold on until they opened today.  But she deteriorated quickly after 4:30am and died in her "Mommy's" arms at 6am.  We wrapped her in her favorite blanket and chose a spot for her in front of the sidewalk in front of the porch as close to the house as we could keep her.  As I dug her grave with the same old hand tools, I have seen my elderly neighbors use to dig human graves during my childhood, I remembered one man in particular who had no public job, volunteered to help dig every grave within walking distance of his house, and felt very strongly that the last decent thing we can do for anybody is to dig them a perfect grave.  I have seen that man mix small balls of mud to fill tiny holes which fell out of the side walls of a grave in order to ensure that he was paying proper respect to the deceased.  So in memory of that old man and The Best Dog In The World, I tried my best to dig her a perfect grave.  I used my double bit axe to cut the tree roots and throw them out.  I used my spade to smooth the bottom and the sides.  I got down on my knees and laid her gently in it and told her I loved her once last time.  But nothing I have done today, or in the last fourteen plus years can ever properly repay that little dog for everything she has done for me.  And, I will end this piece with a comment I have made about her in a multitude of places for quite a few years: I thought more of that dog than I did many of my relatives.  She was with us for almost fifteen years and never lied to me, stole anything from me, or ever voted Republican.  You can't ask for much more from a dog.  Godspeed, Little Girl!  I love you!  

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