About six years ago, my mother and sister went out to run some errands and, by chance, decided to stop by a pet store. They weren’t looking for anything in particular; my sister is an animal-lover, and she has always enjoyed seeing the animals for sale. As it happened, that day was also adoption day at the pet store, and as my mother and sister watched all of the commotion, they noticed a man standing off to the side. In his arms was an adorable little puppy with a pink collar, obviously a little girl, and she had the sweetest look on her face. My mother and sister ogled over her from a distance, then moved on. A few minutes later, they were approached by the very same man, who had seen them staring at the puppy, and to their surprise, asked if they wanted her for free! As it turns out, he’d bought the little mutt that morning as a surprise present for his daughter, but when he got it home, his wife wouldn’t allow him to keep her. Thus, he’d come to the pet store that morning in hopes that someone already looking for a pet to adopt might choose his puppy instead. My mother and sister had not been looking for a new pet that day, but when the little puppy looked at them with her big, sweet, surprisingly intelligent eyes, they impulsively brought her home.
That was the beginning of our time with Georgie. She was the best, smartest, and sweetest dog any of us had ever met or could hope to meet again. She meshed instantly with our family, trained almost overnight, followed every command and understood complete sentences when we spoke to her. And for five years, we loved her like a member of the family, because she was.
Last January, just after my sister and I had returned to college, my father called me one Monday night. He told me that he’d been playing with Georgie that day, and in what could only be described as a freak accident, she’d injured her back pretty severely. They had her lying down and on pain medication, he said, and they would take her to the vet the next afternoon if she didn’t get any better. Although he made it seem as though the incident wasn’t a terribly big deal, I suddenly felt a sinking pit in my stomach. Something was very wrong. I knew it. My father said not to worry, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind.
Georgie never made it to the next afternoon. That morning when they took her outside to relieve herself, she was in so much pain that she could move her neck or hind quarters. My mother held her up while my father massaged her bladder since Georgie couldn’t work the muscles herself. She suddenly began spasming, writhing on the ground in agony, a wild, terrified look in her eyes. My parents watched, helplessly, horrified. When Georgie could take no more of the pain, she collapsed in a daze on the frozen January ground. Afraid to move her lest he hurt her again, my father went inside the house, grabbed a blanket, came back to Georgie, and lay down on the frozen ground beside her, keeping her warm. They stayed there together for over half an hour, my father talking to Georgie and Georgie gazing back at him with confused eyes that did not understand. Finally, my father realized there was nothing he could do for her, and they would have to get her out of the cold. He wrapped her in the blanket in his arms very gently, and sat with her in the back seat of the car while my mother drove them to the veterinarian.
The vet gave them the diagnosis they’d feared: Georgie’s back was severely injured. Without surgery, she would never recover. She’d permanently lose the use of her back legs, and maybe her front, and she’d be in constant pain and suffering. He gave her a shot of pain killer to relax her, and she collapsed on the table. My parents did not have the money for surgery, and even if they had, there was a high possibility that Georgie would injure her back again someday, since the cause was a debilitating disease constantly eating away at her spine. There was nothing my parents could do.
I got the call that Georgie was gone about thirty minutes after it happened. My sister called me on the phone in tears, and I sat in my truck on the campus of my school and cried. We did not speak, but for over an hour we cried together on the phone. I later talked to my parents, cried with them, learned that my father held her while they administered the shot, that he told her how sorry he was that he couldn’t help her, how, as her last act, she reached out and licked his nose, a sweet sign that all was forgiven. The next few days were terrible for all of us. We had lost a dear little member of our family. I coped the only way I knew how: I began to write a song.
Months passed, and thoughts of Georgie were moved to the back of my mind as I worked and enjoyed my last semester of graduate school. But one summer day in May, I pulled my truck into the familiar carport of my home after a two week journey from Texas back to Georgia. My parents were not home. I got out of the truck stiff-legged and tired and glad to be home, but there was a knot rising in my throat as I shut the car door and walked slowly across the yard, to the very back of the property. There, beneath the shade of a thicket where robins chirped and hopped from branch to branch, was a tiny grave marked by a ring of smooth, gray stones.
She was buried there with her blanket and her favorite toy. Delicate buds of purple heather raised their heads through the rich soil. I knelt down beside the grave, brushed my fingers over the smooth stones and the fragile flowers, and wept. It was all as fresh on my heart in that moment as it had been on the day she died, and as I wept, her song came swimming back into my mind. I sang it to her in the shade of the thicket that day, a lullaby for my sleeping little girl.
Over the next few weeks, I was all-consumed with a singular purpose: putting Georgie’s song onto paper. (Actually, onto music composition software on my computer, to be specific.) I have worked on it off and on ever since, and on the anniversary of her death, I uploaded it to the Internet for others to hear for the first time. It’s not finished, and it is a .midi file, which obviously isn’t going to sound as great as if it were being played on live instruments. All the same, this is her lullaby, fleshed out from a single ukulele piece into a full orchestral arrangement with flute leading the melody, since that is my instrument, and Georgie always howled when I played it (thanks, Georgie). It’s my dream to someday finish this piece and hear it played live, but until then, it simply is what it is. Here’s Georgie’s Song.