I can attest to the truth of some of your conclusions. You were “weird” when you got back from Korea and your job in California, and you did need to be re-introduced to the ways of normalcy, or some version thereof. I wondered, at first, if you would keep up your end of the relationship with a pet–you were obsessive when you did something but not too inclined to stick with it when it became a bother. Not so with Ally.
Your delight in the dog was obvious. That she would be with you while you went through your “people” day was reassuring because I knew you would not neglect her, but I wasn’t sure you wouldn’t treat yourself with the same consideration. She brought you laughter and many touching stories about the times spent together. The great thing is that you knew her worth while you had her–you did not wait until she passed to consider what she meant. Even when she was a puppy, you delighted in her antics and unconditional devotion to you. That’s a gift.
My memory would be of the time Chuck and I visited you, Amy and Haley, and we went to Williamsburg for an afternoon. The day was beautiful, and Haley was in a stroller with Ally circling the people in her group. In the old section of town, workers in authentic dress staffed the various buildings where the work of the earlier era was duplicated for visitors.
You let me push the stroller for a while when you and Ally frolicked between buildings with either a ball or Frisbee, I don’t remember which. Whichever, the activity was done in defiance of the signs all over proclaiming that the grass was not to be walked upon and dogs were to be kept on leashes. Only when enough time had elapsed that you figured the police would be stopping by shortly did you return to the group. At which point you told me to let you push the stroller because the police would be less likely to do anything if you looked domesticated. Meanwhile, Ally settled down immediately and walked close to you in a very civilized fashion as if the frolicking had never occurred at all. She was the better actor, by the way.
She’s had a good life, but the time always comes when moving on has to be done. You loved her for her whole life, and she returned the sentiment. That’s the best that can be said. Eras of your life are entwined with hers, and you will always remember the two together. So she isn’t really leaving–I believe that. I think of Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abby” when he refers to recalling in later years the memories experienced in natural settings and experiencing once again the joy of the original event. Nature continues to teach, to soothe, and to make joyous. Ally could be the incarnation of that nature in your life. You will think of her simple grace in the future when days may seem dreary and uneventful.