One day, before our wedding, Hud and I decided to take a walk in Overton Park. As we approached, we saw a trio of runners trying to corral a fluffy yellow dog, without success. As one of them reached for the dog, it looked up, spotted me and came running swiftly through the traffic. Cars were squealing tires to avoid her. She ran straight to me. The runners yelled, "Put your dog on a leash!" I, stunned, said, "But I don't have a dog!" I looked down at the smiling face just as the little liar reared up on its hind legs. Both front paws offered to me. 'Yeah, right!" They scoffed.
She followed us on our trek around the old forest. Back across the busy streets. Up the long staircase of our duplex. Right into the kitchen. I had a friendly free-range dwarf lop bunny who roamed the rooms of the apartment. "Arnie!" I screamed. He bopped right over to her. I held my breath. She bent her head and kissed him. "Oh, no!" I turned to Hud, "What about Tee Tee?" at the very moment she rounded the corner of the bedroom door. Her ears flattened. She sauntered over to the new beast. I sucked in my breath.
And that's when it happened. Terrible Tootsie LeRoux, the Shining Path, reached up her face and head butted the dog. Rubbed herself along the length of its body and slinked away into the dining room.
"Oh, dear God, we HAVE to keep her. The dog is Jesus!" exclaimed Hud.
And so we did.
Carmen got along famously with all sorts. When we finally found Aida, it was as if we had gotten her as a gift.
One time, while roofing the house, a nest of baby mice was unearthed in the attic. One got into the house. Hud and I found Aida and Carmen in the living room after they trapped it. Carmen had her dainty paws cradled around the teeny mouse, licking it like a lolly pop. She never even tried to hurt it.
But whomever had Carmen before she came to us had abused her. And it must have been a man, because try as he might, Carmen wanted nothing to do with Hud. So I devised a plan. He had to tend to her every need. And I ignored her. Didn't even look at her for two weeks. Which was really hard. When Carmen wanted your attention, she would wedge her nose under your hand and pop it up on her head to be petted.
It worked.Two weeks was all it took for her to fall madly in love with Hud. And he lost his heart to her as well.
They were inseperable. She rode shotgun in his old Chevy pick up. The went for runs in the park. She was ever at his side. So much so, that for Valentine's Day of the next year, I painted her portrait. I gave it to him with a card that said, "I thought you should have a portrait of your one true love."
She had come to us at one of the most turblent times of our lives. The world was constantly crushing us in 1997. We lost my grandmother, his father, my grandfather, we sold our photography studio, my cat Myshkin died. She died a mere ten days before my father took his life.
The first real turn in the year was Carmen joing our family. Then, we got married, found Aida and bought the Hudarosa.
It's been a great ride. Carmen had the sweetest, kindest soul of any dog I ever met. She was gentle, smart, loving and beautiful. Her smile could make your whole day turn around. But every living being must age. And Carmen has been leaking away for a year now.
Eight months ago or so, Carmen stopped being able to navigate the stairs. We moved her bed down to the den. And carried her out several times a day to wander the backyard. She was happy and eating well. I was honored to help her through her day. As long as she wanted to stay, we wanted her to be here.
Last Monday, I went to take her out. Her back legs refused to hold her weight. I tried and tried to get her to stand. Hud called me to come in. I left her in some tall monkey grass and went in to tell him I thought it was time. But he had other news. His retina in his good eye had detatched. I retreived Carmen and attended to Hud. While he was in surgery, I came home and helped her as best I could. I couldn't tell him about her condition. It's quite possibly the only secret I've ever kept from him. I kept it the rest of the week so he could heal. Saturday, he was well enough to come outside with me as I tried to get her to stand.
The look on his face drew me to tears.
She was a year old when she came to me, pleading to be my dog. And fifteen years later, on my father's birthday, Hud and I bundled her up and took her to the vet one last time.
We will miss you every single day, Carmen. Every. Single. Day.