Racing Stripe

SONY DSC When you own a lot of dogs like my friend Joan, some of them blend into the background and some of them stick out. Soup, the dog of several names, stuck out. Part of this was because of her unique appearance – as a wee pup she leaned against the heater for too long and burned herself down her whole right side causing a moccasin-like appearance as she recovered and grew. Later, we referred to this scar as her racing stripe, an apropos name as, like her mom Suteki before her, she was always trying to run away. Often accompanied by her friend Teddy. It’s hard for me to remember who would run away more, Soup or Suteki, but they both made their fair share of escape attempts, usually visiting the house down the road or showing up at the other end of town or being turned into the vet’s by a good citizen.

Soup, littermate to Moses, was originally named Zipporah after Moses’ wife in the Bible. This was shortened to Zip and eventually due to several mispronunciations on Joan’s part became Soup. Soup was feisty and a real survivor. Sometimes throughout the years I have felt sorry for some of Joan’s pugs, being one of so many. Soup was one of those pugs I never felt bad about – she was in no way needy, content to be part of a large pack.

She was happy to pile up in one of Joan’s pig troughs in front of the fire, sitting atop her mother, father or friend, happy to be petted, addressed or fed.

As she aged her tongue began to hang from her mouth, perhaps in empathy with her friend Teddy who had a protruding tongue since birth. Earlier this week Soup, who was only eight years old, got in a squabble with the other dogs and hurt her leg. At first Joan thought it was broken, but she quickly stood on it and there seemed to be no reason to take her to the vet. A few days later, however, she seemed to be acting poorly and Joan decided to schedule a visit. Before she could get there, however, Soup who was sleeping on her bed between two of her other friends died – quietly and contentedly, making little fuss or demand, acting just as she had in life. I will miss this happy girl. It is easy to mourn losing one so young. But, if one could pack a life in eight short years, this girl did and it is hard to mourn that. She, like her owner Joan, did things her way and was not one to be controlled. Perhaps her premature death was her attempt to make the ultimate run – perhaps she runs still, her racing stripe showing, her long tongue flapping in the breeze.

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