Hershey, the party animal
Alas, poor Hershey is no more. Her seventeen year old feline companion scampers in the yard, but Hershey now sleeps in it. It was quite clear that John needed to put Hershey down after Hershey experienced a stroke or seizure of some sort yesterday morning which left her blind and unable to walk. She had already lost most of her hearing. Since the poor thing couldn’t even take water, the only option was to say goodbye.
We got Hershey as a pup in 1995 for Shelley’s twelfth birthday. Almost 15 years later, we calculate Hershey to have been 105 in dog years. It’s hard to believe that the dog we got when we moved out here to Maywood has now died of old age.
Hershey was a good dog. Ok, she was smelly and dirty and had this thing about not wanting strangers to touch her face, so it was really best to leave her alone–especially if you were male. But she was just being protective of the girls in the house. She really did like being with people and was sad to be excluded from parties–but we never knew when people would think she was cuddly and, well, she wasn’t. Personally, I always understood how she felt. There are people who have permission to touch me and if you aren’t one of them, then don’t pick lint off my sweater or try to tidy a wayward lock of hair. But dogs are expected to be tolerant of all that stuff or be labeled “unpredictable.” She wasn’t the unpredictable one. Humans were the unpredictable ones.
Hershey had a good dog life. It would have been a perfect dog life but she broke out of the screen porch one night in her adolescence to have a liaison with a hound up the road and that resulted in a teen pregnancy and five pups. The pups coincided with our nightmare years living in the Maywood House while the log cabin was being built. The constant stream of construction helpers at a time when she was protecting her young resulted in her territorial protective stance towards any vehicle that came down the lane.
Hershey in the wilds of Maywood
But no dog could wish for a better place to live than here at Maywood. With acres and acres to call her own, Hershey ran like a bullet after many a deer. Once–to my great distress–she and her son Zack caught one. She explored all of Maywood and when the girls were in high school it was not uncommon for Hershey to bring home some random part of a deer and leave it in the driveway–usually right where some unsuspecting boy would come park his car. In spite of her natural hunting instinct, she did not like hunting season. The sound of gunshot sent her scurrying inside.
In the summer she could cool off by trotting down to the stream, all the more fun if family came with her. She loved following John around on the tractor. As her hearing failed, she perked up when the tractor was running. It was one sound she still recognized. One day last summer she got so excited she ran around the yard like a puppy. Half an hour later her old muscles were trembling from the exertion. Unfortunately, I knew exactly how that felt.
In the fall, she would burrow into a pile of leaves to keep warm on chilly days. And she absolutely loved snow. She loved to plow her nose into it and to roll around in it. No matter how arthritic she was feeling, a romp in the snow rejuvenated her.
As Hershey turned into an old dog, she maintained her guard over the property. Instead of roaming the entire property, she established a routine. In the morning she would trot up to the mailboxes to ensure that all was well up there. Then she would trot down to the Maywood House, now renovated and occupied by Nana and Great-grandad–the GGPs. Since that had been Hershey’s first home up here, she continued to feel a need to protect it. The fact that Nana put out a special water bowl for her and kept doggie treats on hand only encouraged her. Around 4 p.m. Hershey would trot back home to greet us and come in for the night. She was pretty good about staying in the kitchen, but as she got older she would sneak into the family room. When scolded, she would give us a look that said, “Hey, I’m old and there’s a fire in here. And I’m not moving.”
It’s going to be strange not to see her trotting through the yard. Or hear her barking to alert me to a delivery truck. But I suspect that the void will not last long. There’s a little boy here now and there’s already talk of a puppy.