Remembering a Beloved Friend
Christmas is sometimes bitter sweet to me, especially when there’s a lot of snow on the ground. If you’ve been here before and you’ve been following this blog, you’d know what friend I was talking about.
Marmalade the Bloodhound came into my life when she was already an ancient lady. She was nine years old and had been abandoned, tied to a tree to basically rot to death down in Georgia. Marmalade was picked up by animal control and shut away in a cage. Her eyes were swollen and infected due to a condition known as entropion.
Entropion is a particularly nasty condition in which the eyelid folds inward and can cause the lashes to irritate and scratch the surface of the eye. This can lead to corneal ulceration or perforation. Like I said, nasty. As luck would have it, a woman from a feral cat rescue group saw her and took pity. Even with the tremendous pain my poor girl was in, she still seemed to smile. The woman took the poor hound to the vet and was under the impression that Marmalade would have to be put to sleep.
Luck was on Marmalade’s side yet again! The vet said that there was nothing wrong with her and her condition could easily be corrected with medication and minor surgery. She probably wouldn’t have had the same chances down south, so she was brought up to Washington, DC. This is where our paths crossed for the first time.
My wife and I had been looking for a companion for our other dog, Bernie. I had always wanted a bloodhound, I just love the breed. Hounds can sometimes be hard to adopt out and age also plays a factor. Many people want a puppy and the sweet seniors often get overlooked. We decided we would give Marmalade a good retirement, we knew getting into this that we wouldn’t have her for long.
It was love at first slobber, I stretched out my hand for her to sniff me and she returned my greeting with a big gloppy mess of slobber. Marmalade would soon become my faithful brewing assistant at home, but this often lead to two messes to clean up. The malt and the aftermath.
Bernie has a tendency to analyze and plot out a plan to get to treats or toys. Marmalade, well…she believed that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. She never went around things, only through them and often ended up wearing a chair. We lovingly nicknamed her “Marmageddon,” which ended up inspiring the name for one of our beers.
December 19th, 2009 would be the last time I would say goodbye to her as I left for work. The roads were already covered in snow, but I still made the trek out to Alexandria to go to work. Marmalade had been feeling a bit under the weather, but seemed to perk up for my wife as they went out into the backyard. My wife took a picture of Marmalade kissing Bernie, little did we know, she was saying goodbye to her canine brother.
I called for updates and to try and find a way to get home. My in-laws were in town for Christmas and I was eager to be in the company of family and not stuck at work. It was nearly 8:00 PM when I finally got a ride home. It was a wintry apocalyptic wonderland, four wheel drive vehicles abandoned in piles of snow and trees breaking under the weight of precipitation.
I was greeted by Bernie, Marmalade tried, but she shied away and tried to get comfortable on her bed. My wife and I would take turns sleeping on the couch to look after our aging lady, she was on meds that made her pee a lot and had to be let out a few times a night. It was my turn, but my wife took pity on me after my long day, so I went up stairs with Bernie.
Early next morning, Bernie was agitated. I have learned to listen to him so I sat up in bed and saw him staring at the corner of the room. His head slowly lifted as he stared at something, following it to the ceiling. He saw I was awake and came to my side and began to nudge me. I got out of bed and Bernie lead me down the stairs.
From the last step, I saw Marmalade, laying on the floor near my wife’s feet. Something was off, from a distance it looked as if she wasn’t breathing. Bernie rushed to his sister’s side and kissed her then returned to me and ushered me towards her. My eyes swelled with tears as I knelt down by her lifeless body. I picked her up, placed her on her bed and held her.
A few days prior to her passing, she had a little “conversation,” with a Silver Maine Coon we had been feeding and eventually trapped to get vaccinated. After Marmalade left for the happy hunting grounds, I understood what the conversation was all about. It had been a peaceful exchange and I believe it was Marmalade passing the torch. Emma, came in to her new home the day before part 2 of the blizzard of 2010, and helped us heal from the loss of our hound.
We had her for three years and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I wish we had her for longer, but her memory lives on in spirit at the brewery.