The snow had just started falling. It was the first time I had ever driven in snow.The party was at a house rented by several young men. One of them owned a female dog that was half Golden Lab and half German Shepherd. Another had a male dog that was half Doberman and half Greyhound. The two dogs got together and ended up with a family of 7 puppies. The boys managed to find a home for 6 of them, but there was one left over.
When I sat on the floor, it came running up to me and laid down on my lap. The owner of the female dog said that he was going to have the pup “put down” tomorrow. She was the only one that he hadn’t placed in a home. I immediately decided to take her.
I named her Mañana, Spanish for tomorrow. I was committed to make sure that she would always have a tomorrow.
After the party, I was dismayed to find that the snow had continued and now was falling steadily. Road conditions were miserable and we had a 25 mile drive ahead of us. Mañana sat quietly in my lap all the way home as we drove over the snow covered road, sometimes no faster than 20MPH.
She was a wonderful dog. The greyhound genes in her must have been dominant because she loved to run and could sprint a full city block, literally in the blink of an eye. But she never tried to run unless she had my permission and the minute I whistled, she would return to my side. She was always ready to go whenever and wherever I wanted to take her.
The only thing Mañana wasn’t equipped to do was swim. She had the long, thin legs of her greyhound ancestors and when we took her to the lake, the water around her looked and sounded like a washing machine out of balance. Her paws would thump, thump, thump at the water and the moment she could no longer touch bottom, she would turn around and head for shore. She loved the lake though. One of her favorite things was to retrieve -- yes, retrieve rocks we would toss into the shallows, immersing her head completely in the water.
When I was first married, my husband had a dog that was half Springer Spaniel and half Black Lab. Blackie loved the water and at first he couldn’t understand why Mañana wouldn’t swim alongside him. Somehow he figured out that she just didn’t understand the dog paddle and he set out to teach her. It took all afternoon, but finally she “got” it and after that day she loved swimming just as much as he did.
Mañana was a dog that loved life and one summer she had to fight valiantly to keep it. She had the first case of Parvo Virus in our county. Luckily we had a very good vet who had read about the illness and knew how to treat it. She was very sick for a couple of weeks, but with proper treatment combined with her will to live, she survived.
When she was six, Mañana bit a bee and found out that was a bad idea. Both of her cheeks puffed up like balloons. Even as the vet poked and prodded her mouth to find out what had happened and then to remove the stinger, she never let out a single whimper.
When she was eight we moved out to the country. At last she had room to run and run, she did! Country life introduced her to some other animals. It seems that when you live in the country there is always a stray dog or cat on your doorstep. Over the course of the next six years she learned to tolerate cats and was a friend and companion to one rescued kitten, Blooper. Blooper was a shy guy that she took under her wing the moment we brought him into the house. We would often find him and Mañana curled up together on the couch.
There were only two animals that she didn’t cotton to. We had goats and she quickly learned to stay out of range of their heads. And although she never met one, she didn’t like horses. When we would drive into town, we could pass huge herds of cattle and she would ignore them, but just the sight of a horse or two grazing in a pasture incited her to bark as if we had been invaded by aliens.
When Mañana was 14 she started to slow down. She started eating less and less and she no longer ran. Every now and then she would “woof” as she got up to go out or get a bite to eat. One morning I realized that she hadn’t been outside for over a day, maybe two. I tried to coax her off the couch, but for the first time in her life, she didn’t obey. So I left her alone. Later, I noticed that she was frequently licking herself. Determined to get her outside I grabbed hold of her collar. As her front legs tried to hold her weight, they buckled under her. She whimpered. I abandoned my plan to take her outdoors. Instead, I went to the phone and called the vet. I could bring her in immediately.
I asked her, “Do you want to go for a ride?” That was something she loved doing as much as running. Somehow she found the strength to climb off the couch and get into the back seat of the car. I could see through the rear view mirror that she was lying down and looking through the window. The neighbor’s horses were in the pasture, but for the first time I could remember, she didn’t bark.
The vet agreed that it was the best thing to let her go. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. I had rescued this beautiful soul in order to give her a tomorrow. Instead, Mañana had given me fourteen years of beautiful tomorrows.