Susie here. I am finally posting a blog. It’s been a while and Emma has been on a roll. Initially it seemed appropriate to discuss Scout Louise, our four month old labrador puppy, because she has indeed captured our hearts and time. We like to break out in a cheer, “the perfect puppy” when she performs her tricks for us. We did have an issue when this morning’s toy became a roll of toilet paper which graced the living room and back porch. The look on her face was priceless. But, as I sat down to bring a little levity to my heart on the challenges of puppy training it brought me to a place of reminiscing about our Gracie and Elton. They just didn’t stay around long enough for my heart.
Life really changes when you lose a family pet. We have lost two beautiful labrador retrievers in the past 6 months. It was rough. Our children did not know life without their presence. Coming home to a quiet house instead of the rush of your joyous, ever faithful friends was strange. Now I know you all believe that you have or have owned the best dog. And I trust that you will all understand when I say, no you didn’t.
She was beloved from the beginning. A little girl’s first puppy. A little girl who prayed every night for a sister and a puppy. And my heart ached as I prayed too that He would hear her prayers. Her name was Gracie, fondly known as Goodness Gracious. She had caramel velvet ears and a creamy vanilla coat. She liked chewing on sourgrass in the backyard sun. She loved the ocean and braved even the toughest wave to find that stick. And, it was always the right stick. As the years passed, she was a faithful trick or treater, snow sledder and bedtime companion for her sweet little girl. I believe she too memorized Goodnight Moon.
After 3 years as a cozy family, the news came that one of my coworker’s guide dogs had flunked out of school. She was particularly fond of this black handsome boy and knew that he could barely sit still when I arrived for a team meeting. “You have to take him Susie, you love Elton and he will be great company for Gracie, now that Emma is in school full time. I can’t think of a better family for him to go to.” My husband heartily agreed with that notion. I tried to kindly remind him that labs were big dogs and we owned a small house. But, we looked knowingly at each other. Why not add to our family? Let’s do it.
Now, it is still a mystery to me how things in this life work out. And I am continually amazed at how the best of plans are not my own. The week before Mr. Elton Montgomery arrived we were blessed beyond compare when a beautiful baby girl dropped in to our hearts and lives. “I told you, He would give me a sister” she remarked with her gapped tooth smile.
And so the story goes. That beautiful black lab was the best dog. He had no idea what to do with a bone or a ball when he initially arrived. But within one week, we had ruined him. He loved the couch when no one was watching, and butter on the counter tops. He ruined three screened doors as he would jump up on the ledge to open it, allow Gracie to walk in first and then greet us with his devotion, a lovey in his mouth and a never ending wag. He never went to bed until my husband (yes his favorite) was home from a late night at work.
He waited patiently for him in the hallway. And I will never forget how he gently pressed his nose into my armpit the morning of my anticipated mastectomy and licked those lymph nodes clean. He was the best dog.
Memories have flooded the kitchen table with countless pictures of our sweet labs. Our beloved Elton left us in November sooner than we thought, and Gracie decided to hold on for us. But her stiff legs, sore body and eyes told us that she was tired. I would whisper into those velvet ears of hers that it was alright, that though it hurt tremendously, she could go if she needed to. And I would ask her to please not make me decide her time.
We had a celebration of Gracie’s life on her last night with us. We remembered Elton too. She was treated to a grass fed hamburger and banana pecan cake. We knew that it was her time to go, and we each whispered of how much we loved her and what a great companion she had been. Words of heart felt love poured into those floppy ears even though they could no longer hear very well. She was the best dog. We took her to the ocean for one last dance just before the sun set. We told her that the water glistened more brightly and that the waves and driftwood were even better in that place beyond. And we knew that Elton was waiting to open the door for her when she got there.
Though we can never replace Gracie and Elton, Scout Louise has brought great joy and wonder to the Huebner household. Here is one of Gracie and Elton’s favorite Dog Cake recipes. I hope Scout Louise likes it and I hope your pups enjoy it too.
Banana Pecan Doggie Cake
1/3 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground oats or oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, beat together bananas and softened butter until creamy.
4. Beat in water, egg, and flaxseed.
5. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
6. Stir in pecans.
7. Pour into a small loaf pan (greased).
8. Bake for 20 minutes.
9. I know it is tempting, but do not eat the loaf. The dog will enjoy it much more.