Since we're soon to move to our new place in Borderland, the wife has been making noise about getting a dog. We've had this discussion many times in the past, but have never lived in an apartment or house that would allow such creatures. So it's been a dream we hoped to realize "some day" when we had a "place of our own" and could "do whatever we want." And while I've campaigned for something smallish, like a beagle, a puggle or, perhaps, a Spuds Mackenzie dog, the wife has had a larger vision. Much larger. She wants a St. Bernard.
Back when the wife lived in Alaska and was just starting out living on her own, she wanted a St. Bernard in a bad way. The unfortunate part, though, is that she didn't have much money to live on herself, let alone being able to afford to buy dog food for an enormous dog or, for that matter, afford to purchase said enormous dog in the first place. But she dearly wanted one all the same. As the story goes, her mother (hi, Ma!) spotted an ad for a St. Bernard that was a year and a half old and going fairly cheap, all things considered. The owners had hoped to use her as a show dog, but she had something of an under bite that would have prevented her from qualifying as best of breed, so they'd decided to let her go. Ma called the wife and told her about the ad. The wife, of course, began freaking out. This was her big chance to finally have a St. Bernard at a very reasonable price--only she didn't know if she was about to make a colossally bad move by buying it. Would she be able to afford it? Would she be able to care for it the way it would need? Would buying it cause the both of them to starve?
On her journey out to the farm where the dog resided, my wife prayed to God that he would give her a sign that this was the right move. It couldn't be a namby-pamby, open to interpretation sign, either, but had to be a clear cut spotlight shining brightly on the answer of whether or not to buy this dog.
When the wife arrived at the farm and got out of the car, a St. Bernard came bounding up to her, jumped through the open driver's side door, crawled across and sat down in the passenger seat.
"Looks like you have a dog," the owner said.
Looks like she did.
The dog, whose given name was Bellis Fair, because she was purchased in the Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham, WA, was soon nicknamed Honey Bee and the name stuck. Honey Bee was instantly a beloved part of my wife's life. And, yes, there were times when the wife had to decide between buying people food or dog food, because she couldn't afford both, but in those cases she simply made extra people food and shared with the dog.
Honey Bee stayed in Alaska when my wife came to Mississippi to study at Blue Mountain College. After she'd finished her class work, though, and had moved into the Festering Hellhole apartment near Tupelo to continue her medical technologist training at the North Mississippi Medical Center, her dad flew down from Alaska with Honey Bee and the dog stayed to keep her company. (That poor dog had probably never seen temperatures above 85 degrees in her life, only to be thrust into the land of 110 degree heat indexes, with the humidity turned up to 11.) Eventually, I met the two of them when I too moved into the Festering Hellhole. In fact, it was my rescue of Honey Bee after she'd gotten free of her collar and run chain that helped cement me in my future wife's affections. Without that incident, I might not be married to her today.
The future wife and Honey Bee eventually moved to North Carolina, we eventually began dating long-distance and had been doing so for just over a year when Ashley called to tell me that Honey Bee had died. It seems that big dogs grow so fast that often their internal organs don't have time to grow the kind of support structures to hold them in place. After Ashley went out to feed her one evening, her stomach had simply turned on itself and the vet said that there was nothing that could have been done to save her, even if they'd known what was happening at the time. It was a devastating loss for Ashley. They'd been through so much together.
Since then, as I mentioned, the wife has wanted another saint and I knew she would eventually get one. And by "eventually" I meant, y'know, a few weeks/months after we'd moved into our new place in Borderland and got everything unpacked and settled out. Fate had other plans.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)