Why "Watermark"?

As my old Maggie was slowly winding down, Darby came into my life.

Baby darby4 months oldWhen Maggie was nearly thirteen, I found myself teaching her to walk again after an auto accident. Realizing that my best friend wasn't going to be around forever, I put my name on my dear friend Betsy Atkinson's waiting list, praying for the little red girl I'd wanted for so long.

For two months I waited, in the last week calling her daily - just to check. When the puppies finally arrived, I had my choice of two. Kirsten and I first saw them at one week old. I picked up one puppy, she picked up the other, and we never noticed another puppy in the litter. Because of her clear, soft color, I named her "Watermark."

Darby's store cat, Moustache PeteDarby was my constant companion from day one. She matured into a first-class store dog, a fixture in the feed store I managed. She entertained customers with the few tricks she'd learned, or dragged her cat around by the scruff to show off. In the quiet moments we would work on obedience, or play tag up, around, and over the feed bags (quite the site!). She made friends of all, and with her gentleness turned around more than one poor soul afraid of dogs.

She was a true ambassador of the breed, confident and independent until invited to cuddle, and occassionally showing that her judgement of character was better than mine. She adored the show ring, and seemed frustrated by the time required to reach maturity. She was just being introduced to agility, and showed the promise of natural talent and comprehension.

"The girls" spent every day apart, but in the evening came together with that bond that only sisters share. We were convinced that no one could care for our girls the way that we would, so we never left them. They went with us on every vacation, every business trip. Leaving them behind just wasn't an option.

Only once did I leave her at home, and perhaps there were forces behind the decision that I will never know. On that one fateful night, group play turned deadly. In the rough and tumble crowd that she was so familiar with, Darby was thrown to the frozen ground, breaking a rib and puncturing a lung. She was gone before she could be put in the car.

I am constantly grateful to the inspiration that caused me to have a camera on hand at all times, for the binder of pictures she left behind could easily have spanned the 17 years - not months - that I had planned to have with her.

The last photo ever taken of Darby and sister Teagan

In a state of grief and despair, I picked up the last roll of film, only to find photos of Darby and Teagan sound asleep and nestled like spoons just the week before.

And so we are Watermark, keeping this beloved soul a part of our daily lives. The hole she left behind is one that will never be filled, but to every puppy we nurture and love and send out into the world, we add a little bit of Darby.

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