Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Hila Chandler, a Memory
Yesterday ended up being "Teary Tuesday" for me. I've taken care of Hila Chandler for the past four and a half years. Her family left last June on the chance of a lifetime - the parents and all three boys traded houses with a couple from South Africa, and went to live in another country. They were due to be gone from two to six months; and planned accordingly. They left their two bee hives, 14 laying hens, one rooster, and Hila, their dog at the house here in Boulder. My name was left as the "animal expert on call." Somehow, the South African couple kept forgetting to lock the chicken coop door at night, and by August there were no birds left in the backyard. (The neighborhood is full of fox, skunks, and mountain lions.) The South African family is back at home, and family friends from Denver are now taking care of the household. ... Hila. How do I describe Hila? She was the color of a Basenji that had been bleached out - a golden chestnut color with white paws, chest, and tummy, and a crooked little white strip that went up her nose and between her eyes. The hair along her spine was whorled backwards - like a Rhodesian Ridgeback; and she weighed about 35 to 40 pounds. She wagged her whole body, not just her tail; and always greeted me with her nose pointed up and an "Ah, woo, woo, wooooh!" She crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday afternoon, and is relieved of all pain now. Last spring, I commented to the family that for the last three days of my stay with Hila, she would frequently act as if she were lame on her left front leg. It came and went so randomly that we thought she was putting on a show for extra treats and sympathy. If only, if only.... That was apparenly the first indication that she had bone cancer. She was semmingly fine up until two weeks ago, when her leg started to swell and she wouldn't bear any weight on it. She went to the vet, and 9 days ago she was diagnosed with bone cancer and an infection of her lymph gland sytem. The tumor in her leg swelled the leg to three times its normal size within the last 10 days. A conference call was held between the Chandler family, the Ritter family, who are now in the house, and the vet. Then I got called. Hila died with dignity, in the arms of people who loved her, and with her new doggie companion, Tippie. (Tippie is a part of the Ritter family.) Hila was always happy, loved her treats, guarded her yard, chickens and family, and was a very cheerful companion. She pulled the youngest Chandler on his skateboard; she jumped through an open window one night - straight through the screening - to chase something out of the yard that she felt was threatening us; she apprised the family of the arrival of visitors; and she loved her family. All praise to Hila!