In Memory of Chapin

She left as she lived – with dignity, grace and perfect timing.

Chapin was wonderful. She wasn’t demanding, wasn’t bad and wasn’t noisy. She was a lady right from the start, observing the goings-on around her with interest but rarely partaking in anything that would be frowned upon. She was the essence of biddable – whatever I asked of her, she excelled at, even if it wasn’t her cup of tea.

She was born breech, with her head stuck in her mother’s cervix. It was a difficult delivery and when I finally got her out, she was purple. A little bit of work pinked her up and she never slowed down after that. From slow-maturing lines, it took her until the day after her 4th birthday to finish her Championship, but to be honest, she would have finished much sooner if she had liked the show ring. She only played that game because she knew I wanted to play it. There were many, many times she went reserve and the judge remarked on her lack of enthusiasm. That was true – she went through the motions very well, but didn’t see the point in running around a little ring, standing still and looking pretty.

What she did see the point in was agility. Wow, did she ever light up when we started playing that game. She earned her Novice, Open and Excellent titles in just a few months and was on her way towards MACH when I was injured and couldn’t run agility courses anymore. She was content to take our teamwork and use it in the obedience ring, easily earning a title there, too.

She loved our hiking excursions. She was the first dog I put a hiking title on, and so had to cope with my lack of ability where putting on a dog backpack was concerned. On one hike, she managed to leap through the backpack not once but twice. Imagine walking a dog on a leash and suddenly the pack she had been wearing was on the leash behind her. Yep, twice she did that on our first hike. It was a little bit because I had the straps too loose and a lot because she was athletic, lithe and quick. Our 40 miles were so enjoyable as we worked on her packing title, and she often went on hikes after earning it just because she was such fun to hike with.

She loved being a therapy dog and going to visit her “old friends.” For a long time we went to a nursing home weekly and many of the residents waited for her arrival each Tuesday morning. She had the sense to know who could take her silliness and who really just needed a cuddle. Chapin liked everyone, but adored and flirted with men, so she was especially a hit with the guys at Sunrise.

She excelled at raising new members of our household. Besides missing her physical presence, that’s what I’ll miss the most about Chapin. She was the best of what an alpha bitch can be, always leading by example and gently molding puppies into great members of the family. Rarely did she ever even have to raise a lip at anyone. She’d just stiffen and whoever was misbehaving would straighten up and fly right, right away.

On her last day, she was silly, asking to go out a little more often than normal, and then frolicking around the yard. Before dinner, after leaning her head on my leg and enjoying a long neck-scritching session, she ran to the living room, poked her favorite toy with her nose and gave us a playful and loud “ahhh-oooo!” She cleaned her bowl, lounged around while we watched tv, and went to bed when I did. Bob saw her about an hour later and all was well. Fifteen minutes later, when he walked back through the bedroom, she was gone.

And that was so “Chapin.” About a month ago, when she was having a not-great day, I told her that she could leave whenever she chose to leave and it would be wonderful if she could just go to sleep and not wake up. I guess she thought that sounded like a good idea. We were planning a birthday celebration for her, as she was about to turn 14. She missed it by a little over an hour. We thought about picking up the birthday cake we ordered so that Billy and Duffy could celebrate for her, but neither of us could bear to do it, so the birthday cake will have to wait until Duffy’s celebration later this month.

CH Kachme At Long Last of Yeti, CD, AX, MXJ, CGC, WPD, Therapy Dog Excellent, called Chapin after singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter and adored by those who knew her. She was born on July 29, 1997 and slipped away on July 28, 2011. She touched a lot of lives in her short life, and stole our hearts from the moment she was born. Godspeed, Chapin…no one could have had a better friend than you’ve been, baby girl.