I was talking to her, I was walking right up next to her side. She was starring off across the street to the second orchard farm. Her golden ears were up while she was intensely focused. I kept walking normally up to her when I suddenly wondered what she saw. "What is it girl? What do you see? You wanna go over there?" She never looked back at me as she stood there the whole time. "Come on girl, ya don't need to go over there.." then I bent down to touch her. My poor old dog jumped 20 feet in the air startled completely by my touch, "Oh no Savannah!" I exclaimed tossing my half eaten apple to the dirt ground. "I am so sorry Girl! Did ya not hear me?" I asked her as she wagged herself into me as a reply. While I scratched her belly I thought about how old she was looking. I began to realize my Sweet Savannah was going deaf, even her once very dark brown eyes were now cloudy. I knew she was fading from me, I could feel the changing time upon us. Yet I tried to make that moment last as I sat down next to her looking off in her same direction and petting her golden fur. She nudged me with her nose if I ever stopped petting her then I would laugh. Later in the evening I couldn't help but wonder when I saw her walking way out across the valley below, Really where does she go?
"It's a crazy storm tonight!' My 16 year old sister Dana said as she flew into our little cottage. The wind outside came crashing through the open door. "Is it raining?!" I asked as I threw my book down and shot up from the couch. "Yeah, pretty hard." Dana replied as she went to start her shower from the bathroom that was located between our bedrooms. Since Dana's bedroom was actually the living room of the cottage she also had an old couch I liked to lay on while reading. "Did you see Savannah?" I asked as I opened the kitchen door to the outside again to call for Savannah, Then I felt stupid realizing she is a deaf dog so I began flashing on and off the patio light. "No, I didn't see her or else I would have brought her inside with me, What are you doing?" Dana asked me and I laughed "I am calling her home." It was just barely dark still the stormy night was coming. While all the cats came running inside, My Sister started her shower with her big screen TV on. I ran outside into the wind looking for my old dog. I caught sight of her across the street on the second farm. Though she was clearly heading home in the storm I laughed at how she moved, just like a chubby old woman with determination to get there but not with any speed. She was wagging her big bushy tail when she reach me as we headed into the cottage. Ever since my Sister and I moved across the yard of our parents house into our own place, into our very own bedrooms. We never rejected our pets from living inside with us, so there was always a kitten somewhere sleeping on my bed or in my shoes. Savannah had her own bed setup in the cottage kitchen floor, usually the cats walked around her with no bother. But on this scary storming night the cottage was feeling more like "Noah's Ark". I was laying on my small twin bed when the lightening was followed by the sound of thunder, then the sound of my old dog running through the small cottage, I sat up as Savannah jumped for the first time ever up on my bed. The whole bed frame seemed to be pulled off the ground by her weight. Dana stood in the doorway watching "Now what is her problem?" she asked as I was laughing so hard at just how tiny my bed really was after all. "Ooooh Look at her! She is terrified of this storm....Well now my girl!" I tried to share my bed for the rest of the evening as I read but Savannah kept nudging me to pet her and soon I got her back to her own cushion bed. A few nights later I heard a strange noise in the middle of the night like she was dreaming or choking. I ended up sleeping on the kitchen floor right next to her because I had been so frighten by the sounds she was making. As I had learn that she was deaf I still chatted away with her as if she could still hear, but I used my hands all the time to direct her and I loved flashing the outside lights to watch her come running from any where on the farm. That long long night I stay up with her petting her or holding on to her big fat paw. "You are getting old Gal, You scared me with this odd breathing...What is going on inside ya huh?" I asked her as if she could answer. When Dana woke me at 6 in the morning, I was laying half bent over onto Savannah and her bed with a shared blanket. "What are you crazy?" She asked me as she was about to leave for work. "That looks bad for your neck." I shot awake alarmed that Savannah had died in the night after all but instead the big old golden mutt got up with Dana and went outside. I would have a very sore neck for the rest of the day of course but I told Dana all about being woken up by Savannah's strange breathing. Dana paused standing by her pick-up watching Savannah move around just fine. "Well She looks normal to me." I was laughing out of relief until I tried to move my neck.
Sunday evenings for my family when I was seventeen were very routine after getting home from evening service at church. Mom would pop popcorn or make big huge milkshakes. I would put the pjs on my toddler brother Daren, and my baby brother Dougie. Then my brother Derek would be laying on his stomach in the living room while Daren sat on his back. Dad always had his big lazy boy recliner chair, Mom would spread out on the couch as we all enjoyed whatever seasonal dessert it was. The TV shows were always "Nature" and "Masterpiece Theater". I would sit up against the door frame of the entrance way to the kitchen. While watching our weekly shows. On this evening Dana had gone across the yard to our bedrooms to shower. While I still kept my tennis shoes on in my summer cut off shorts. I remember thinking I should take my shoes off like I usually do but for some reason I just didn't. In fact at that moment I realized I was the only family member completely dress while eating a milkshake. As our TV show "Masterpiece Theater" played on, the summer evening breeze came through our open windows at the same time a sound of a speeding car from the nearby commonly used Ustick road. Dad mumbled "Where's a Cop when ya need one." Mom chuckled as she looked around at her family glad we were all safely in the living room, Upon hearing the roaring car getting closer just as it reached the front of our home there was a loud huge whack sound followed by skidding tires. Dad shot up from his chair running to his bedroom for a pair of jeans, Mom was nursing baby Dougie and worriedly said "Oh no! not again!" It was very common to see accidents happen on this road, drivers fly down this dark paved country road hitting all kinds of wild life and when they reach the bridge over the canal they usually lost control, this happened all within a mile of our home. We usually were the first on scene calling for help. Now I had heard the whack sound so perfectly because I had stopped watching the TV show and was listening to what Dad had pointed out was just another crazy driver coming down the road. "Dear God I beg you!" I exclaimed as I shot up to my feet at the same time Dad did. "I beg you, I beg you please God let her be there, let her be safe." I prayed continuously as I left the rest of the family to the back door where my 15 year old dog would be laying, or I mean SHOULD be laying under the porch light up against the steps so that she can feel when the door opened and she knew I was there to take her to bed in the cottage.
The empty spot where Savannah should have been, where she always was after her nightly rounds on the farm, made my heart stop completely "I BEG YOU GOD!" my mind now screamed. My heart was wild and my lungs were burning as I ran in full speed in the opposite direction of the road, "SAVANNAH GIRL" I called though I clearly knew she couldn't hear me. I ran through a small section of the peach orchard, the moon light was the only flash light I had. I hear the calm voice in my head saying "You know where she is Debby." but my heart's voice screamed "RUN" So I ran to the ditch bank and to the gravel road up half way to my Grandparents house calling her name as clearly as my lungs allowed. "Savannah Baby Girl, Come on show yourself... Dogy Wogy Girl!" I had seen Dad and Derek jump into the pick-up heading to the road. I could see their lights from my spot as I ran over to the Cherry trees, I ran and ran circles every where that was as far away from the road as possible. The head lights of cars, the commotions of voices and I knew I had to surrender. "Run Debby Run, RUN AWAY!" was what I was saying to myself, but another calm voice that wasn't really me said "Go to the road, you can do this for YOU are strong and SHE needs YOU."
I opened my cottage bedroom door out of breath shouting "Savannah!" Dana was just getting out of the shower calling back "WHAT HAS HAPPENED!" But to my already understanding self I looked sadly at Savannah's empty bed, I had hoped Dana took Savannah in with her. My voice wasn't my own when I replied "Savannah has been hit tonight." Dana cried out then I calmly closed the door and ran to the street.I felt like my body was floating across the dark night, my eyes were focused on her golden body laying in the gravel side on the street. There were many shadows of people walking around my dead dog. But the scream that left me stunned them all, To this day I still can not see these faces of those people. I didn't even know which one was my Father, yet they all froze, they all were looking at me. I only saw the glowing lights on my dog, I could not move any closer, I let out a sob and a cry saying "MY DOG! MY SAVANNAH!" I ran again this time back the way I came, At the age of seventeen and in those tennis shoes running never felt so good! For I never wanted the day to come when I would have to say Goodbye to my golden brave farm dog, Savannah. That night I ran until I couldn't breath, until I couldn't cry, until I was buried in moon light and stars. I stopped to look out over the valley wishing I could see her again, just like she was on one of her wandering long walks in the cool late summer night. Actually, that is what she was doing when crossing the road earlier....I had to say it out loud to myself if not to the earth, to the God I called on earlier "She's Gone."
I wondered...really where did she go?