Betty Dog: Ravensown Destined to Rain, CD, RE, AX, AXJ
March 23, 2002 – February 1, 2014
Kim picked out the pink collar puppy for us. But when we went to meet the litter in May 2002 when they were just five weeks old, it was instead the yellow collar pup who tottered in a beeline to John on her impossibly tiny stick legs and climbed in his lap. Kim told us she was the one who was the independent puppy–always climbing out of the litter box, the one who preferred to sleep alone away from the others, the one who said “talk to the paw” when she was put back with her siblings. She was the one who preferred to follow Kim’s husband around as soon as she was able to move on her own. And she was the one who happily trotted down the driveway to greet us when we came to pick up our new puppy. She knew all along. She had chosen us. The yellow collar girl was ours.
We had a name picked out before we even met her: Betty Dog. A comic drawn for a long ago Discovery Channel job, Betty Dog was a thoughtful little pup who solved dilemmas while playing with her friend Wanda Dog. Our new little pup fit her name perfectly and Betty she became. Ravensown Destined to Rain was her registered name, because she was destined for great things. She was a Betty because she sure wasn’t a Veronica.
But we soon found ourselves calling her lots of other names. Curious George because of her endless desire to be a part of anything we were involved with. We called her Log Dog because she would pick up gigantic sticks on her walks, carefully balance them and carry them home. We called her The Baby, since Vic was the big dog of the house. We called her Bathmat Betty, for her ceaseless dedication to eating bathmats, and towels, and rugs, really anything she could reach.
She ate jackets, belts, remote controls, pants, eyeglasses, shirts, leashes, books, collars, dog beds, window sills, chair legs, pillows, and enough socks to fill an entire store. She was a sock monster and would eagerly pull them off your feet if given the chance. She chewed up several shoes, generally the ones I liked the best and once ate a pair of boots down to the sole. She loved it when unwary guests visited and left their door open, so she could go in to see what they had brought in their suitcase for her to eat. More than one guest had to be reimbursed with new shoes and socks.
She was always on the lookout for anything she could reach. She must have worked quickly as we rarely caught her in the act. Fortunately she would break everything down to tiny pieces. We were always worried she would plug up with all the detritus in her guts, but everything moved on through, only once requiring the help of a tasty prune snack.
She eventually grew out of her voracious consumption phase and began taking great delight in rearranging items around the house. Throughout her long life, she never spent a moment alone without moving something as soon as we stepped out the door. It became a part of everyday life to come back and see what she had moved around. Sometimes it was just moving a loaf of bread from the kitchen counter into the living room. Sometimes it was moving clothing or objects from one room to another. Remote controls and keys were particularly valued. Everything was more fun if the object could be opened and the contents distributed.
She liked to tear things apart then run throughout the house vigorously shaking so as to achieve maximum distribution. She had a regular pattern: dining room to living room to office to bedroom. We never caught her in the actual act, hard as we tried. She always looked worried as we would arrive home to oversee her finished artwork but we never saw the actual creation.
Her finest moment was when John made quiche for a Fourth of July picnic and left the (very) full bag of flour on the counter. We all went out to the fireworks and came home late at night to find Betty feeling deeply chagrined yet no doubt a bit proud with the house covered in a fine dusting of flour from floor to ceiling. A few areas had actual piles of flour where she must have stopped playing long enough to let it build up before she continued her journey of joy. Every room. Every piece of furniture. All covered in flour. It took weeks to get the house really clean. She had moved on to other arrangements by then.
Vic left us in 2006 and Betty was delighted when we brought baby Harry home in the fall of 2007. She loved having a puppy to care for and boss around. She took her job very seriously and would run to tell us if he needed to go out, or worse, if we had missed the opportunity and he had (invariably) pooped in the house. She taught him to play gently with her and respect her strict boundaries, which often involved toys she thought were rightfully hers.
She adored John. She loved me but he was the real love of her life. She convinced him that she was too adorable to sleep on her own bed and thus was able to finally break the No Dogs On The Bed rule. It made her so happy to snuggle up to him and he would often fall asleep with her tucked under his arm and her head on his shoulder. She mourned deeply when he left us too. But she quickly stepped up to be what I needed and worked hard to restore a stable routine for us both: asking for her walks every day and keeping a close watch on Harry as he grew into adulthood. Her steady loving presence and her sensible canine ways brought peace back into all our lives. She threw her playful, loving and bossy self into the focus of every day and slowly we rebuilt a new life together. She never searched for John, she clearly knew he was gone, but she always had a soft spot for men and loved visiting friends where she could sit next to an easy chair and watch a ball game for a few hours or putter around the house doing chores.
She was passionate about her toys, loved solving puzzles and expected to have something to play with every day after breakfast as part of her every day routine. She would bark at me to get a toy to play with each day, perhaps her purple bottle toy or one of her bones or a ball to roll around. She preferred for someone else to hold a bone for her while she chewed on the other end, keeping it at a convenient height for maximum access. She loved stuffed toys but nothing ever lasted very long, as she would invariably pull its guts out. Whatever the toy of choice was, she always wanted me to be part of the fun.
One of her greatest joys was playing hose. Gardening was a joint adventure, involving stealing work gloves, moving pots around the yard (often before the plant was out of it), biting grass seed before it hit the ground, digging holes next to me, and cheerfully pulling apart a mulch bag to randomly distribute it wherever she could. All gardening chores were eagerly tackled as it always led to the pinnacle of fun: watering, which meant she could run, bark and try to capture the spray with crazed delight.
If playing hose was not available, she had made up a Bucket of Balls game involving tennis balls and a chuckit. Harry would eagerly chase the balls thrown back and forth across the yard while she waited for the opportunity to grab the chuckit away from me and proudly parade around with it. I had to play with two chuckits so to keep the game going with Harry while she took the other one. There were clearly some rules that she had created which were obscure to me as a human but which we all three abided by. It was a rather tedious game on my end but they loved it.
She was always happy to work with me and got her obedience Companion Dog and Rally Excellent titles, although the strict rules of obedience didn’t always align with her vision of the world. She was willing to go along, but she much preferred her rules to those of others and fortunately, her rules were usually sensible. There was no real reason to ask her to do otherwise. Arthritis cut her agility career short, nonetheless she managed to achieve both her Standard Excellent and Jumpers Excellent titles. She was very careful with her body and was clear when she couldn’t jump with ease so retired at only six years old. She worked in total partnership with me. She always, always came back to me when I asked, no matter the circumstance, and checked in to be sure we were both doing the right thing. She was a wonderful team-mate. I listened to her, generally agreed with her and sometimes reasoned things out with her. Whatever it was, we worked it out together. No drill-team precision for us, but we always had a deep understanding about what to do as partners.
Dogs give us the opportunity to love with pure abandon and to somehow connect with another being completely outside our selves as humans. Their all too short lives are only chapters in our own story. Every dog brings a fresh love and a new beginning—a chance to do it over again, to try to get it right this time, to learn how to rebuild and how to love again. Betty, with her forceful unique personality and her open honest soul, walked alongside me with courage and a lot of laughter. She leaves me bereft and grieving but so much better for the joy and love we shared.
Good bye, my dear sweet heart. I hope I do right by the love you gave me as I put my broken heart back together and go forward into the next chapter. The Eye of Betty will be watching my every step.
Many thanks and loving farewell to everyone who has loved her throughout the years—she had many friends and enjoyed every one. You made her life happy. She considered everyone an integral part of Team Betty. Of which she was head coach.