Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Dearest Laverne

Last night Justin and I were forced to let Laverne go. It might have been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. We both knew it was for the best. But we miss her so. For those of you who knew Vern you new what a happy dog she was. She walked, played, and brought love to our home until the day she passed.

Vern was born in Michigan in March of 1997. She lived with my mom and I until I went to college. She played in dog parks, had a wonderful sister Shirley (who I am sure was waiting to welcome her home) and knew all the dogs on the block, Emma, Buster, Pepper and Sonia. When I left for Vermont Laverne took care of my mom. She provided companionship, comfort, and slept next to her every night. When Vern got sick my Mom took her to and from the New York Vet Hospital until they got every last pine cone out of her nose. Mom even took care of her when Vern tried to play with the local skunk. Mom took her on road trips throughout the northeast and she came to vitis me for sleep overs.

After college I moved to Winston Salem NC and Vern came to live with me. It was there she met my love and her father, Justin. From that moment until last night Justin took amazing care of her. He walked miles with her, though parks, beaches, and trails. I will never forget the smile on her face when she smelled salt water. One day, we took her to the Outerbanks of North Carolina, missed the ferry and had to smuggle her into a hotel for the night. She loved to run on the beach and play in the ocean. On holidays we took Vern to Justin's mother house and his grandfather would give half of his dinner to her under the table. Everyday, no matter what the weather (and trust me Iowa brought on some weather) Justin and I cared for Vern and she cared for us. In North Carolina Vern learned to walk off the leash, run on the beach, and fell in love with an amazing Golden Retriever King. When I traveled for debate Laverne and King would play ball, chase goose in the lake, and cheer on their Dads at poker.

In 2002 Vern and I moved to Iowa. It was just the two of us at first and she took great care of me. She laid with me through every required reading, stayed up late while I wrote papers, and ran miles in Hikery Hill park with Sarah Allen and I. We walked every day in the pint-a-crest (aka Vern-a-crest) where she took sandwiches from innocent students with no apologies. In the fall Vern and I loaded up in a rent a car and drove to Louisville KY to reunite with her Daddy and meet her new brother Scout. Scout is King's biological nephew and he and Vern hit it off. They played, wrestled, and he licked her like a lollypop. The next day we all got in Justin's  red pickup (Vern's favorite) and road home to Winston. It was cold in the back with no heat but Vern and Scout snuggled close and became best friends. For the next year and a half Vern traveled back and forth from Iowa to North Carolina with Justin and I. The four of us where a family and we took camping trips, beach visits, and began what is now our loving DuPre family.

In June 2004 Justin and Scout rolled into Iowa City trailer in tow. The four us moved into a small apartment with big windows and lots of love. Each day the dogs went for two 1 hour walks to the park. In the winter Justin and I wore crampons through the ice and brought sleds through the snow to play with Vern and Scout. Vern loved sledding. She would runing up and down the slope after us. In the summer we took walks to dairy queen and Vern got her own scoop of vanilla.  When the heat was too much we went to the water plant or the lake so they could cool off and chase the goose. In the spring Vern and Scout raised money for charity at the annual dog wash. And in August of 2005 we all jumped in the truck and when to the lake where Justin asked me to marry him. Vern and Scout cheered (or jumped around and swam) and our family moved forward.

In the spring of 2006 Vern and Scout huddled together as the great Iowa City tornado rolled through our building. Safe and sound, we all moved into the nicest hotel in town (and the only one that would accept dogs). We lived with our camping gear for a few months. Vern liked the idea our bed on the floor because it gave her easy access to the down pillows she grew to love (and took from me every night). And in July of 2006 we all piled into the subaru (we sold the pickup before leaving town) and drove cross country.

We survived a storm in the badlands, Vern tried to make friends with the buffalo in Yellowstone, we braved 100 degrees in Montana and spent our last night on the road in Eastern Washington. Scout played in the water as Vern floated the rapids, again and again. Tuckered out they both passed out in the tent. The weather in Bellingham was great for Vern and Scout. No ticks, no heat, and no ice. After renting for a while we moved into our for-ever-home (we think) in Sudden Valley Washington. The yard is big and had lots for Vern and Scout to do. The porch is big and made a great place for squirrel watching. With nearby swimming spots and lots of off leash logging roads near by, it was all a dog could ask for.

When I was 7 months pregnant Vern laid in bed with me respecting my bed rest orders. We snuggled and I read her Go-Dog-Go a book that lead to Morgan's first sentence "Go-Dog-Go." When Morgan and Addy came home from the hospital Vern snuggled with them too. She tried to share their pack-in-play. The girls loved her. They shared their food , gave her rubs and read her books. In the last two summers we went to the lake together, swam, and played as a family of 6.

While still running and playing Justin and I knew Vern was getting older. Her body was not as strong as it use to be. We had a 6lbs cyst removed from her side this summer giving her another four months of playing. Just monday she rolled in the grass. Yesterday after Justin played with Scout and Vern in yard she came inside for dinner. She ate the whole meal and then her cyst began to slowly open up. With heavy hearts Justin and I drove Laverne to the doctor. She laid in the back with me resting. When we arrived it was clear that her time had come. It was not fair to force another surgery that would cause pain for her and just a little more time for us. She was tired and we had to say goodbye. We laid together on the floor, I softly whispered her amzing grace, and we thanked her for all the love she gave us.

Today we had to explain to the girls that Vern went to dog heaven. She is reunited with friends and we miss her deeply. But she was and will always be my first baby girl and life long companion. Scout is sad but we will all heal, not forget, but move foward with time. Where every she is, I know she loves us and will be at peace. Thank you Laverne you will always have a big part of my heart.   -your mama and friend.