"I am taking you somewhere very important," I told her.
Her soulful eyes regarded me with interest, but I wasn't sure she understood.
"I have a job for you. I don't know if you are able to do it, but it is a huge responsibility. I am entrusting you with someone who needs you desperately."
Still, she looked at me. I wasn't sure my message was getting through, but I had to trust, somehow, she understood.
Loneliness eats up a person. Days on end of staring out a window, shuffling to the refrigerator for a glass of water, and sitting back down to stare out the window; they take their toll.
Not too long ago, the days had more meaning, more purpose. They had a reason for getting out of bed. Someone to take care of, some reason to make sure the blinds were opened. A way to guarantee that she was up and moving, if for nothing more than to open the door a few times a day. There was a constant companion to listen to the worries, the concerns, the joys and the stories, day in and day out. There was a shadow from room to room. There was a presence in the middle of the night that said, you are not alone.
There was a guardian angel in the room.
But after 15 years of being a guardian angel, the body could no longer do the job that it seemed she was set on this earth to do.
Dogs don't live as long as we.... don't ever live as long as we ever need them to. It is a reality we who live with and love dogs realize at some point in our shared existence.
And so goodbye must be said.
And for one, lonely days begin. No, not completely alone. Plenty of others check in and check on her. Bring meals, offer days out, but at night, there is no one left to say goodnight to.
But she did anyway.... to the empty room. Every night, she spoke aloud to the guardian angel whose presence could not be seen anymore, only felt. And every morning, she awoke to an empty room, an empty house.
As I drove, I was hoping fervently that this new dog soul could live up to the responsibility I was giving to her. I had looked and looked and looked for one to take the job, but somehow, none reached out and grabbed me. Oh to be sure, plenty tugged at my heartstrings. But none spoke to me. I felt I was pushing too hard to find the right one, so I stopped looking. And when I did, Mandy came along.
A tentative soul, she is soft and gentle and kind. A kind of mirthfulness is hinted at in her eyes, but she is steady and caring. Anything I asked, she agreed to do. She showed me strength in character, and I threw up a silent prayer that she is the right one.
That she is the new guardian angel.
It is a lofty job. A hard job. One fraught with responsibility. And reward.
And so we arrived. She settled in as if she had come home from a short trip out on the town. She toured the place, took in all of it's nooks and crannies. She greeted all who were there to meet her as if they were all long lost friends. It was kisses and wags all around for everyone.
Small tests happened and nothing phased her. This seemingly tentative soul couldn't be rattled by a shaken garbage bag, an electric lift chair, a knock at the door, a child on the floor, or music from an electronic keyboard. She was steady and solid.
And so, after some time in the day had passed, she and I ventured outside together. She had already explored the yard, but this was our heart to heart time.
She regarded me curiously this time as I asked her if she understood now what she was here for. I asked her if she understood just how important the job was. I asked her if all we had been talking about made sense to her.
With a tail wag, she gave me a very clear response: "I got this."
And so we left them alone.
Evening came. Several trips outside, and one evening meal had come and gone. A check in was in order.
A visit on the pretense of leaving a dessert afforded a view of the settled scene. Mandy was content, laying on the dog bed in the middle of the living room floor, much as the previous guardian had done. From there, there is an excellent view of the chair, the door, the kitchen and the bedroom entrance, nearly all of the house, except the bathroom. She would get up and seek out attention, soak it in and give it back ten fold. Then take her post once again. When her charge got up to go to the bathroom, Mandy watched from her post as her charge went down the hall. But Mandy was not content to remain in an out of sight post. Instead, after a few moments, she dutifully got up and sauntered down the hallway to confirm that all was in order and ok, in spite of anothers presence, fully willing and able to give attention and love. She couldn't be distracted at that time.
She had a job to do.
She's got this.