She was perhaps the most difficult dog I have ever owned, not that she was a bad dog, she just had so many issues. Loretta had numerous and costly health problems, which was doubly unfortunate because she reacted badly to anesthesia. We picked her out of the litter because she was the quiet one, but she nearly spent the rest of her waking hours barking. She was deathly afraid of storms, and could predict their arrival well before the warnings would crawl across the bottom of the TV screen. Even though she was neutered, she always attracted attentions from the opposite sex, but she would adamantly have none of it. One might think that depression is the purview of modern humans, but I can tell you dogs suffer from it also. She also stank, as many hounds do, but I came to enjoy her funk and am already missing it.
Her life did have some moments of joy though. She loved to sing and with little encouragement would throw her head back and let loose in deep soulful song. Loretta also enjoyed her time in the sun, and would follow a patch of it around the house, just like a cat. She went to great lengths to keep her self clean and had a sleek black coat that reminded me of a seal's. On hot summer days she loved to go wading in the river and swish her ears under the water, though she would not swim. She also loved nothing more than to sleep, her long limbs stretched to offer little room for anyone else. Loretta was shy, and conservative with her affections, though there were several humans, beyond her housemates, with whom she enjoyed special bonds.
Loretta entered her senior years gracefully, which was probably easier since she has always been a bit elderly. As recently as last week she was still singing her songs, and even spent time playing games with one of our cats, a most rare occurrence. When Loretta woke yesterday she was out of sorts and unsettled, not wanting to drink or eat, much. Poking around, we found a large mass on her throat that extended down to her chest. She paced most of last night searching unsuccessfully to find a comfortable sleeping position. I took her to the vet's this morning hoping the mass could be something easily drained away or reduced with medication. Dr. Marshall said that would not happen and offered a couple other options, though not sincerely realistic. The x-rays showed how the mass was constricting her trachea to only a 1/4" opening. We really had only one choice, which was to let her go. I know it is clichéd, but she did indeed die peacefully in my arms. I did not wake up this morning thinking it would be Loretta's last day, but just as she entered our lives unexpectedly, she left that way as well.