How is it that dogs have less words, fewer expressions, but can tell us so completely that they love us? How is it that they are so pure in their happiness, so absolute in their misery?
How is it that my blue friend Lily held us so completely with that first look from her baffled puppy eyes?
I took our girl and her friend giggling in the back seat to "visit somebody". I didn't give them much explanation. Kids are used to that, being bundled up for purposes unknown, too involved in their own worlds to question the journey. We arrived. There were puppies. The girls spilled out. It was a mess of girls, giggles, puppies and squeals.
"Can we have one? Oh please! Can we have one?" Yes. That was why we were there. Lily came home with us, where she was introduced to our mightily outraged terrier. Things had already been sorted, as far as Timmy was concerned.
It took time for them to find their way with each other, and in that time, the puppy grew. She grew into a dog who learnt by watching the terrier that you jump on people and on cars. You are thrilled when people get home, you interrogate visitors. She loved the river, her short blue mane shedding a thousand droplets after a swim. Then Timmy the terrier lost a battle with a brown snake, letting out one last unforgettable scream.
Like the rest of us, Lily was devastated. She cried constantly. She uncovered Tim's favourite toy - a beaten up rubber pig - and carried it for weeks, dropping it every now and then to look at it and cry.
Lily took it badly when she had an operation to make sure she remained just friends with the dog next door. There was pain in her eyes. She again refused to be parted from Timmy's pig, tucking it into the cone around her head so she could carry it with her. Then she was hit by a car after following the ute down the farm driveway and onto the road. She broke her front leg and it would not heal. After six months of treatment and bills, the vet told us amputation was probably the best outcome. Lil had been in a pen for close to six months to restrict movement.
The last time I saw her was to feed her breakfast before my girl and I went away for a couple of days, with my husband at home to take care of the farm. As I went out of the pen, I looked back and she was sitting apart from her food, looking at me with her head to one side. I went back and hugged her.
We think it was a snake that ended Lily's adventure. We came home to a farmer who had talked a big talk but was brought undone by finding her in the final moments of her life. Lily's was a simple life, and it brought us pure and simple joy.
Marie Low is a freelance journalist