Born a runt with a useless right paw she could have been doomed at birth. Another breeder might have buried this imperfect puppy. But not Gary Miller. He had a heart which could see perfection takes many forms.
So this crippled runt was offered to us. And we too saw a puppy not a problem. We named her Autumn for her beautiful fall coat, but quickly shortened it to “Tummy” because she loved to have her tummy rubbed.
But at the Beazley House she was all business. Tummy’s business was retrieving, and she took it seriously. She couldn’t just walk so she chose to run. As a three legged dog she wasn’t just special, she was amazing.
And she wouldn’t quit. She might rest a bit as she got older, but “quit” wasn’t in her.
Even when she stopped eating just after this Thanksgiving, she didn’t stop chasing balls. Nor did she stop going to work. She’d skip breakfast, but she wasn’t going to miss “Let’s go to work!”
We tried everything to get her to get back on her feed, but she knew better. After all there was the “new kid” Pumpkin to train. And Corgi pups aren’t born retrievers, they have to be taught.
Tummy used every bit of her energy and patience to prepare Pumpkin for her role as the Beazley House canine companion. She endured pulled ears, milk teeth and inattention with a mother’s patience. She knew she didn’t have much time.
We didn’t. She hid it well, stringing us along with eating bits here and there. Sleeping in these last mornings only so she could rebound in the afternoon and playing full on in our den with the puppy at night.
Just two days ago she finally couldn’t go on: she couldn’t even stand up. Oh, she’d bat a ball into submission if thrown to her, grab it and await another, but she couldn’t stand. Just retrieve.
A trip to the hated Vet’s office confirmed the terminal cancer so many of her litter mates died from. They re-hydrated her, gave her something for her nausea and the gift of a goodbye evening with her family.
For a couple of precious hours she could stand again and catch a ball and take a hug while licking away a twelve year old’s tears. She played with the puppy and then laid down for one last night at home. Their paws touched as they stretched out on the den’s floor.
The next morning it was off to work to say goodbye to her Beazley House family. She lay like a pampered princess as innkeepers, housekeepers and friends bid her a tearful farewell.
Her last vision was our tear-streaked faces as we cradled her and Doctor Mary sent her on her way to a place where her Sissy would show her where lost balls go and all dogs are perfect like her.
We were left to go back to a place of empty spots where there should be a Golden Girl but now just has abandoned tennis balls waiting to be retrieved.
Pumpkin now waits to show guests all she learned from the best Retriever this side of Tennis Ball heaven.