A while back, I wrote about our old pal Jasper. Today I’ll write about his counterpart, Libby, affectionately known as Libby-Lou, and less affectionately known as Libertine Lucifer. For the sake of this piece, I will focus mainly on her “Libby-Lou” side, and less on the demonic traits that have made for some hair-raising events over the past 10+ years.
Libby’s first days in our home, back in March of ’08
Libby is much like her mama in that she’s not too stoked on members of her own species. When she sees dogs, she thrashes around like a 100-pound tarpon at the end of a line, and introductions to other dogs, when unable to be prevented, tend to include a swift bite to the face. Many years ago, after I explained to a man on a hiking trail why it wouldn’t be a good idea for my crazy dog to meet his nice one, he replied, “Got it. She’s not good with ice breakers.” I thought that was a lovely way of putting it. The one positive thing about Libby’s attitude towards other canines is that I don’t have to go to dog parks and have stilted conversations with strangers. After all, I didn’t get dogs so I could meet people. I got dogs so I could hang out with my dogs.
Libby’s murderous instinct carries over to other creatures as well. She’s killed gophers, lizards, squirrels, rats, and a pet chicken at my friend’s parents’ farm, an incident that earned her the nickname Dexter Dog. While hiking along a ridge on Orcas Island, a small animal dashed across the trail in front of us, and Libby went after it. If I hadn’t been holding her harness, she would’ve plummeted straight off a cliff. This incident made me realize that Libby’s prey drive is strong enough to eclipse her survival instinct. Pretty impressive.
Okay, enough about that! On to the good stuff…
Libby loves, loves, loves to be outside. When she sees her leash, she dances around like she’s won the dog lottery. (This is in stark contrast to Jasper, who pouts at the sight of his leash. What, again? his sad eyes say. There’s a perfectly good couch right over there…)
In her younger days, she loved to run whenever possible and was incredibly fast. One of my happiest Libby memories is taking her to an empty beach on the Oregon Coast around 1 a.m. and letting her run to her heart’s content. Her violent tendencies made off-leash opportunities a rarity, and her joyful face each time she raced by was a beautiful thing.
Of course, all that activity must be balanced out with some serious resting, and Libby has the adorable habit of sleeping with her tongue stuck out. The best is when she wakes up with her tongue still out, then looks at me like, What? Why are you laughing?
Libby is great with humans of all ages. When I worked as a counselor at a construction pre-apprenticeship program where most of the students were young men, I sometimes brought her to work so they could tell their problems to her instead of me. The best example of this was when I got a heads-up that a particularly guarded, tight-lipped student was struggling with meth addiction. He looked horrified when I asked him to come to my office, but his eyes lit up the moment he saw Libby. For the next hour, I watched as he held her face, shared his fears, anger, and pain, and cried into her fur. In the end, he looked at me with a smile and said, “Libby thinks it’s gonna be okay.”
As a counselor, Libby works some real magic. She exudes this sweet sense of comfort that makes people know they’re loved.
Libby didn’t come to us as a snuggler. While Jasper likes to sprawl his 65-pound bulk across anyone who’s around, Libby needs more personal space. For the first few months she lived with us, she wouldn’t even sleep in the same room as the rest of the family. Over the years, however, she’s gotten more comfortable with proximity.
Here are a bunch of pictures of Libby just lying around being cute. Do all dog owners take hundreds of photos of their dogs doing nothing? Because I certainly do.
I write this now because my sweet Libby’s light is fading. Arthritis and degenerative disc disease have taken their toll, she hardly eats, her activity level is almost nil, and her mind is muddled. I feel her preparing to make the big transition, and it sucks.
When it comes to the loss of my pets, I am not strong, brave, or resilient. I am a blubbering, inconsolable disaster of a person. That’s how the whole last week has been. Crying at the office, then furiously fanning my eyes when I hear a coworker’s approach. Crying in the car until I can’t see a damn thing. Crying while I pet Libby and soaking her fur. Crying right now as I type. Princess Leia watched her home planet explode and didn’t react so pitifully. But I cannot help it. It’s simply a reflection of how much love I hold for these animals and the amount of joy they’ve brought to my life.
Dogs are the best people. I just wish they lived forever.
[P.S. ~ I’ve done my best to focus on Libby’s positive attributes in this post, but JR said I need to tell the chicken-killing story, so here goes: We were invited to a friend’s parents’ farm, and she let us know they’d had some issues with canine visitors in the past but had lifted the ban for us, so Jasper and Libby could come, too. We had a wonderful first day which concluded with a lavish dinner on the back deck. As soon as we all sat down to eat – before the napkins were even placed on our laps – I heard my friend’s mom gasp, “Oh, no.” I peered over the edge of the table to see Libby, looking quite proud of herself, drop a dead chicken on the deck, then sit beside it like: Look – I contributed! As my friend’s dad scooped up the dead hen and whisked it out of the mom’s line of sight, I looked at JR and said, “I wanna leave.” He looked right back and replied, “We can’t leave.” It was like a Southwest commercial. So humiliating. We kept Libby quarantined for the rest of the weekend.]