Out of all our dogs, Bessie had the most regal of names. She was named after the former Queen of England, Elizabeth 1. Our first litter of Yorkies produced three dogs. Unfortunately, the first came unannounced and caught us by surprise. He was born not breathing and, by the time I found out Winnie was birthing her first litter, the newborn male pup could not be revived. The second out was Camilla, she too was not breathing but I was able to resuscitate her. Then time passed...and passed...and passed.

We began to be worried as the night went on that the last pup might have a problem. We knew there were three pups as our vet had palpated Winnie at the last checkup. I took Winnie to the emergency vet clinic to see if anything was wrong (as these things ALWAYS happen after the regular vet has closed up shop for the evening).

The emergency vet took an x-ray and said the pup looked fine but they would give Winnie a shot to help hurry things along. Oooops. On the way home from the emergency clinic the sounds from the whelping box next to me began to get louder. I pulled off the road and, low and behold, Bessie had been born and Winnie was taking care of her. Bessie was the first pup born breathing on her own, in a box on the passenger seat of our mid-90s forest green Ford Aerostar van.

We had two pups from Winnies first litter. As I had breathed life back into one, Millie, I could not sell her. My wife immediately fell in love with Bessie. Oh well, so much for selling any of this litter. Our Yorkie pack had become four.

Bessie had many nicknames; one was Magoo due to her more bulbous eyes. She had a good eye for hunting. She and her mom were our "providers" when it came to backyard produce. Bessimer came to our back door one day with something in her mouth. As she approached from the distance I couldn't tell what it was. When she made it to the back door I could tell it was fur. Seems a baby rabbit had made it under our fence and, unfortunately for it, met a Yorkshire terrier named Bess. You see, Yorkies were bred as ratters for the coal-mines of Scotland. When they see a small rodent-like animal they get it and break its neck in one quick snap of the head (like Jack Russells and barn vermin). She was so very proud of herself and wanted to share the catch of the day. My daughter was not so pleased.

For most of her years Bess was absolutely no problem. She ate, slept and loved us all. Like her dad she had developed a dry eye condition and required some cyclosporine eye-drops two times a day. At about 14 we noticed her getting thinner and that her teeth were getting rather gunky. We took her to the animal clinic to get the pre-op blood work prior to teeth cleaning. The numbers were not good. The vet diagnosed that she had failing kidneys. She was not well enough to tolerate the oral surgery. She was placed on a special kidney diet and for several weeks was on IV fluids (lactated ringers with vitamin B added) and some antibiotics. For the last year of her life Bess and I worked at keeping the quality of her life as good as possible. We'd add a bit of meat or some low sodium broth to her food and heat it up to encourage consumption. There were ebbs and flows. At one point her kidney numbers were stable and close to normal. Every two months she would go on a two-week regimen of Clindamycin to help with the mouth infection. She'd get some IV fluids when her eating would subside. Bess and I gave it a good go for over a year.

Bessie finally started to show the signs that our ride was almost over. A dog that in her prime was nearly 9 pounds of fighting weight was now down to just over 5 pounds. Her normally stiff back legs were now falling out from under her, almost like semaphore flags signaling the end. I thought she might have had a small stroke. After talking with one of our vets, we pretty much knew there was no coming back this time.

Bessie went peacefully the morning of June 1, 2011. The sedative she was given normally takes about 10 mins to relax a dog; with Bessie, it took about 30 seconds. Our huntress didn't have any fight left in her. We loved her and said goodbye. Tears will come to our eyes for quite a while when thinking about our loss but smiles will replace them when we realize what a true blessing it was to have had Miss. Bessie May in our lives for such a long time. We love you Bess!

[click here for more photos of Bessie]