Mere hours before daybreak and an appointment that would have decided things for her, Stella shut off her own light. She did it with grace and dignity, on her terms, at the Bossy family house with her people lying on the floor around her.
Ironically it was a woman named Kitty who was responsible for Bossy’s Great Dane. It was 2005 and the Bossy family had just lost their aging dog to cancer. This prompted Bossy to launch what she calls the research process, even though Bossy’s mom refers to it as good as done.
Bossy had always wanted a giant dog, which are hard to come by in mutt form, although the Bossy family tried. One such try was from a shelter approximately three miles past Jupiter. Her name was Heidi, and her dubious heritage was described as Great Pyrenees, a guess that was supported by the promising size of her 8-week-old paws.
The wrinkle in this story revealed at Heidi’s first veterinary appointment. “Actually she’s not eight weeks old, she’s four months old,” the vet said. This meant Heidi wasn’t large for her age, but small for her breed. And her breed wasn’t Great Pyrenees, but rather Setter.
But back to 2005. Bossy had long admired Great Danes, who are known for their calm quality. A mellow dog matches Bossy’s lifestyle, where lifestyle equals napping.
And so Bossy busied herself with researching how she could acquire a Great Dane sometime in the distant future when the Bossy family felt ready to get another puppy. And the distant future took five days. The reason it took five days is because the family was on a camping trip, and thought it more stable to acquire a puppy when not living in a pitch of nylon.
Once home from camping, Bossy scoured the globe for a reputable Great Dane breeder. Bossy was already well versed in dog breeds and their historical functions, generalized dispositions, activity levels, varying temperaments, skeletal structures, and the potential problems within each of these categories. When Bossy was a child she would carry around a dog-eared edition of a Dog Breed Encyclopedia, spouting the traits of her favored dog du jour. Bossy would deposit crocodile tears on the notes she scattered for her parents which issued threats such as, “I am huving a nirvis brake down, can I pleze huve a dog?”
In short, Bossy speaks breeds — which is why she was quickly referred around the breeders’ tightly woven network until finally locating a litter of puppies in a neighboring state. And those puppies were brought about by Kitty, a nurturing grandmother of both humans and Great Danes, generously sharing her house with both across several generations.
And that’s how it came to be that Bossy and her mother and her daughter climbed in Bossy’s Honda and drove for seven hours to select their puppy.
Actually, Bossy and her mother and her daughter weren’t so much tasked with selecting a puppy, as selecting a collar. Bossy had been given the pick of the females, which were identical except for the color of the collars that flopped loosely around their sweet baby necks.
The thing about selecting a puppy is a puppy often selects you. While Bossy flung herself at Green Collar Girl and Red Collar Girl, administering temperament tests and logging the critical results as a nurse would an Apgar score, one particular puppy’s affinity for Bossy and her mother and her daughter became plain. “Who’s this who keeps returning to our chairs?” Bossy’s mom finally asked.
It was Yellow Collar Girl.
Sixteen hours later, Yellow Collar Girl became Stella, and she was loaded into the back of Bossy’s Honda for the drive home. As her tribe of Danes disappeared in the rear view mirror, Stella surrendered her past in one elongated sigh much like a 1940’s film star, before collapsing in a heap for the remainder of the ride.
Once home Stella was introduced to her new extended family and the house she would occupy for the next nine years. When the neighborhood tour did not include the pond she left behind, she lifted her long snout and voiced her disappointment with a deep lilt resonating upward from her toes. “Oh man,” Stella said.
This is how the Bossy family found out Stella could talk, which she did in perpetuity. And for those sentences too complicated, the Bossy family would happily articulate on Stella’s behalf, imitating her compelling intonation. Stella enjoyed the constant soundtrack of her own voice as provided by her family, and she would whip her head around to learn exactly what it was she herself was thinking.
Never showy regarding those ignoble dog tricks that earn a smart distinction, Stella quickly learned everything that was expected of her and executed those things without fail. She was trained to walk off leash although wore one on neighborhood walks for the benefit of those passersby who would gawk, mistaking her for a deer.
Left alone in the front yard, she would lounge and sniff and run circles around the tree without benefit of a dog fence, despite the sidewalk pedestrians who would beckon to her, and despite the proximity of street and all manner of enticing wildlife that always lingered on the other side.
Stella was an agreeable housemate, shrinking her size to fit any situation. For the entirety of her life she cherished two toys, both carried constantly, and neither, nine years later, the victim of a careless puncture.
She never complained about the endless march of boring pellet food she would scrape around a steel bowl kept the height of a second story apartment, and she would lap her tepid water in a deafening, comically prolonged way as though draining the Bering Sea.
When the Bossy family sat for their own meals, Stella would dutifully stand between her two kids, resting her head on a trestle under the farm table, like a horse in its stall. Stella enjoyed being a part of all aspects of the Bossy family industriousness, where industriousness meant lounging around sofas.
The only thing short about a Great Dane is their lifespan. In the same accelerated way a Dane matures physically and mentally in their first year – increasing their weight 100-fold – so does old age arrive too soon.
In her final months Stella was as healthy and sound as her early days, albeit slower and requiring intervals of epic sleep. But in her final weeks the body that served her so well became difficult for her to lift and negotiate, and she began the retreat of the elderly, turning her attention inward.
The Bossy family was determined to spare Stella a tortured exit. The texts and phone calls flew back and forth among the Bossy family, detailing the subtle vagaries of her good days and tired days in an effort to help decide her fate.
In the end, the Bossy family made Stella an appointment for a Saturday morning.
On Friday afternoon she was eating heartily and enjoying a stroll around the back yard, which confused the family decision. Bossy drove to the family house in order to analyze things and spend the night spooning Stella. In the brief hours between late afternoon and early evening when Bossy arrived, Stella began a swift decline. No longer able to stand on her own accord and clearly uncomfortable, talk turned to lifting her into a car and not waiting until morning. The only consideration was Bossy’s daughter, who was not home and had not said goodbye. Suddenly Stella, who was lying in a heap in the center of this impossible conversation, cleared her eyes, stood up, and walked over to her foam mattress renamed in her puppyhood baby duck bed.
Stella, in her final hours, navigated her death in a way that spared the Bossy family of anxiety-producing decisions, anxiety-producing logistics, and anxiety.
Stella waited until Bossy’s daughter came home, slipping in and out of sleep, occasionally shifting her crumbled limbs while her family quietly surrounded her. Stella didn’t so much take her last breath as expel the air she no longer needed.
Bossy calculated that Stella was a few months shy of her first birthday when Bossy began this blog. For over six years there wasn’t a post generated by Bossy that wasn’t overseen by Stella, who would stand for hours next to Bossy’s typing elbow.
Stella had a sense of her role here, providing an endless source of fodder and being an eager participant whenever the camera emerged.
So thank you, dear Bossy’s council, for being avid and loving supporters of Stella these past years. Truly. Bossy’s Dane wasn’t just Great, she enjoyed significant internet reach and Google presence.
Farewell, Stella. You were a force, a big silly, a dear girl, our comic relief. Your voice will always be in Bossy’s head. And we will miss you.
vuboq saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:23 pm
Little Miss Sunshine State saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:26 pm
Ok I held it together until I saw her toys and then I lost it. I grew up in a house with no pets so I never understood the love until a 3 year old Pomeranian mutt rescue came into my life via my daughter. We all get nervous when we can’t find his favorite toys!
Thank you again for sharing her with us. She certainly WAS great.
Holly saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:27 pm
Oh my dear Bossy. You are so right. Stella was here from the beginning. She was your support. Your muse.
Hugs to you all. Thank you for giving here such a wonderful life.
Claire in AZ saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:28 pm
This is the first Bossy post I was not looking forward to reading. I loved knowing Stella from afar. Tears and hugs.
Pat saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:28 pm
What a loving tribute to a beautiful spirit. Rest in peace, dear Stella.
The Great Getzby saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm
Bobbie saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:34 pm
So happy to see a post from you. So sad to read about Stella.
Lydia saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:34 pm
Tears are flowing. That was a beautiful tribute for the lovely Stella.
jeff saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm
so sad, sad, sad, sad, sad! Such a sweet doggy and a sweet post about her as well. xoxo
bossysMom saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:37 pm
The toys had me too.
Amy saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:38 pm
Oh, dear Stella. I certainly have enjoyed her presence here over the years! Much love to the Bossy family as this gaping hole in your hearts begins to heal.
Cupcake Murphy saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm
Oh my beautiful girl. You rest in peace and raise a ruckus if you’ve a mind to. xoxo
Jeni saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm
Beautiful words for a beautiful soul. I’m so glad you found each other. She was well-loved and returned that sentiment in a way only a big, floppy dog can. I’m sorry for you and your family’s loss.
Alison saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm
What a beautiful tribute to your dear sweet girl. What a wonderful life you and your family gave to her. Rest in peace, Stella.
Kate saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:42 pm
So sorry for your loss, Bossy: Stella was a beautiful girl and such a character! I know you will all miss her, but I’m so glad your family enjoyed and loved her for the time you did. xo
rachel saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 9:43 pm
Oh sweet girl. I loved seeing her pictures over the years and reading about how great she was. The toys made me cry too. Beautiful post. She knows how much she was loved.
Nancy (MarieMillard) saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm
Golden slumbers Yellow Collar Girl … until you see your family again at the Rainbow Bridge.
*hugs* to you Georgia
Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm
Aw hon – hugs to you and the fam. I got quite teary-eyed reading this lovely tribute to your Grande Dame.
Leaf Probably saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm
Oh my god I’m crying in the workplace. Stella was my favorite dog on the net. So sorry for your loss Bossy’s Family!
Nicole saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm
So very sorry but so glad you had each other.
souphead saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm
Sending love and condolences to the whole Bossy clan. Stella was one of my first ever interweb doggie loves.
See you over the Rainbow Bridge, Stella. The Greatest Dane. <3
Deb saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:37 pm
Weepy but grateful for this post…. Lots of love and light heading your way…
kristin saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:42 pm
I love that she waited until all her humans arrived… truly a great girl. xx
Pam saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:45 pm
So sad, so sorry. You were lucky to have had each other.
cristy saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm
Thinking of you and your family. I just lost my beloved Sammy last week after 16 years and wish I could have written about him as eloquently as you did your sweet Stella. Her posts always made me smile.
Reticula saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:59 pm
What a sweet, loving tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss.
MemeGRL saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:03 pm
Love that dog. I am so glad I saw her on one of her final neighborhood inspections. And bravo Stella for hanging on for everyone to be home. Beyond Great indeed.
La Suzette saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:04 pm
So sorry for your loss Bossy and Bossy’s family. Lovely tribute to a truly GREAT dane. She was blessed with wonderful humans.
jeri saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm
Such a beautiful tribute to a loyal and faithful family member
Pat saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:27 pm
Well done, Bossy.
Alexandra saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:37 pm
Oh Bossy, I am so sorry for your loss.
Melanie @MelanieMedia saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:39 pm
So beautifully said. We will miss you too, Stella.
ann p saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm
Aw Stella! What a wonderful tribute, Bossy. I’m so sorry for you all. Take care.
Jerry Getz saysSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm
Arli saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 12:19 am
That was so beautiful and heartfelt. Sorry for the loss of your ever loyal friend. My condolences to the whole Bossy family.
Kat saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 12:24 am
I could look at photos of Stella all day long. What a beauty. She was incredibly lucky to have a wonderful human family to love on her every day. So sorry for your loss Bossy and family!
Marnie saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 12:29 am
Stella was beautiful and graciously funny. You were made for one another. Deepest sympathies to you all.
Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 12:31 am
Stella and Bossy go together like peanut butter and Nutella. She will be sorely missed by all of her fans.
Lynda M Otvos saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 1:33 am
Oh Bossy, I am so sorry for the loss of the amazing Stella. Her Greatness will live long in Internet infamy. She was one of a kind. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Cactus Petunia saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 2:50 am
I almost couldn’t bring myself to read this wonderful tribute, as my own two Knuckleheads, now 10, are beginning to show their age. Sweet Stella! You will be missed by so many more humans than you even knew existed.
corrie saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 9:02 am
Such a gorgeous tribute- lovingly done Bossy.
So sorry for your loss. Bossy has been managing many life crises these past years. I hope sunnier days are ahead.
The Other Ree saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 9:18 am
Ah, damn, Bossy. Having loved and lost two Great Danes myself (Bibi and Beau), I know there’s a special place in our hearts for these wonderful dogs. RIP Stella.
Ilana saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 9:24 am
I’m so sorry for your loss. RIP Stella.
Jessie saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 10:30 am
So sorry about Stella…
Kizz saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 11:22 am
It’s always too soon. Always. So sorry for your loss. She was a great girl.
Liz saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 11:32 am
Thank you for bringing Stella to life for all of us. She was a GREAT dane.
Jean saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 11:45 am
So, so sorry bossy. Never easy. You wrote a beautiful post. Here’s to lovely memories and beautiful images of Stella.
Tanya saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm
Watching Stella on your blog was the main reason my family decided to rescue a 1 1/2 yr old great dane last year. She is the love of our lives. I’ve never had a dog as good as her and I’m already freaking out about how we’re going to handle losing her in 7 or 8 years. I want to thank you for including Stella in your blog. It’s made our lives so much richer. I’m so glad you were all with her in the end.
WebSavvyMom.com saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm
–>Stella had a great life in the Bossy family. I have always enjoyed every picture you have posted of her over the years.
Lisa R saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm
Typing through tears. I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved pet. It is obvious through your pictures that she had a wonderful life and was well loved.
Teri Tighe saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm
Stella was the best dog, ever. I loved seeing pictures of her different poses with the family. I love all the stories you told about her and I hope she had a great life and will have a good spiritual life until she meets Bossy’s family, once again.
Divina saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm
It was an honor to have had her in your life. Thank you for sharing her with us.
KJK saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm
When I read the headline I said, “Oh, no!” I felt like someone I personally knew had died. I’m so sorry for all of Bossy’s family for your loss. Thank you for sharing dear Stella with your council, Bossy. I am truly sad that she has passed on but how beautiful the love amongst you all…
Marathon mom saysSeptember 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm
Heidi saysSeptember 4, 2014 at 11:53 am
So sad for your family. Thank you for your generosity in sharing Stella with us, in life and now.
Franca Bollo saysSeptember 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm
A lovely tribute befitting of a lovely friend. So sorry for your loss and, it appears, ours, too.
holly saysSeptember 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm
I just discovered your blog (yes, I am behind the curve) and am now needing to reapply my mascara. What a loving tribute to your Stella. I have an aging Gordon Setter that is entering her elder years and I just want to stay home and kiss and hug her. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Deb Silver saysSeptember 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm
BOSSY!.. Boo-hoo! (sniffle) what loveliness! Touching, truthful & shooting straight from the typing elbow.. a gorgeous tribute that reminded me wholly of Beautiful Benji, our champagne standard poodle (Benjamin Pinetum Shaunting Tatters of Sasheley’s Golden Dolly – pardon the pedigree! Aka “The Hound”). Thank you for a little visit into the family.. xx
Doug Bateman saysSeptember 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm
G, you have some beautiful pictures of a wonderful animal…….i was very sad when i heard this.
It’s a fine tribute…….
Olivia saysSeptember 5, 2014 at 7:25 pm
The most beautiful post I have ever read . . .
Galiene saysSeptember 5, 2014 at 11:25 pm
So sorry about Stella and your family’s loss.
NellyFrittata saysSeptember 6, 2014 at 9:17 am
Stella was the greatest. Goodbye, sweet girl.
Jenn @ Juggling Life saysSeptember 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm
I am so sorry for your loss and grateful for they joy she both brought and received–she was a great Great Dane.
Martha saysSeptember 8, 2014 at 12:20 am
Oh sweet Stella, and oh poor Bossy I know this is so hard on all of you!
IrishJenn saysSeptember 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm
Bossy, we had to say goodbye to our sweet, old girl in May. It was hard, and we miss her so. My thoughts are with you and your family.
Kirsten saysSeptember 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm
Oh sweet Stella…. you will be so missed. Many hugs from AK to all of the Bossy family. We lost our 13 year old giant orange furball in February (gosh has it been almost a year already?) and my heart still hasn’t recovered. I can’t imagine what it will be like when my pup passes…..
Annie saysSeptember 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm
Tears here … She was well loved by so many and will be missed …
Angie McCullagh saysSeptember 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm
I’m sorry about Stella, Sister!
zidia saysSeptember 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm
Your tribute to Stella was as beautiful a memorial as any I have ever read—-for man,woman or dog.
You cannot imagine how proud I am of your talent to communicate. Please, please continue your blogging and writing and elevating us, your loyal subjects!
Sophie saysSeptember 9, 2014 at 3:49 am
its a beautiful post and loving tribute for dear Stella. terribly sorry for your loss.
Hil saysSeptember 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm
I don’t know what I can add that 70 people didn’t say before me, but you made me cry. There is meditation music with flutes playing on pandora, and that mixed with the pics of your special, loving, beautiful dog is just too much. Swift journey to your sweet soul, Stella.
Susan saysSeptember 11, 2014 at 6:14 pm
Even though we have never met, I feel like you’re my friend because I have eavesdropped on your life through your blog. I am so sorry my friend has lost her dog/companion.
pinoy saysSeptember 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm
I am sorry for your loss. Be strong. Tears and hugs.
Vicki saysSeptember 13, 2014 at 10:34 am
So sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is very difficult. This was a nice memorial to her.
Z. Mulls saysSeptember 15, 2014 at 12:30 am
Stella was not only great, she had a great family and a wonderful life.
Thank you for posting this. We’ll miss her.
rockytop saysSeptember 16, 2014 at 7:12 pm
I am so sad to hear this!! My German Shepherd, Cody is 9 and just starting to grey around the muzzle. This is not enough time to be with the one you love!!!! What a moving tribute to your beautiful Stella (yes, I cried, too).
kdiddy saysSeptember 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm
So long, Stella! You always seemed like the coolest dog. We’ll miss you around these here internets!
Momo saysSeptember 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm
I don’t know how I missed this, but I am crying real, HEAPS of tears. Oh, how I loved that dog. Hugs to the Bossy family.
Judy saysOctober 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm
The luckiest families with the luckiest dogs end up with the biggest holes in their hearts – and wouldn’t change it for the world. Beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog.
Lynn saysOctober 7, 2014 at 2:25 am
What a beautiful tribute, Bossy. The toys about did me in. So many sweet memories all of you will hold in your hearts always. Thank you for sharing it all with us.
candygirlflies saysOctober 21, 2014 at 6:58 am
I’m so very sorry for your loss… sending you a big hug, and many thanks for sharing Stella with us.
cindy saver saysNovember 13, 2014 at 11:36 pm
Oh, this is a sad, sad post. I always thought Stella truly and completely great and know you must miss her so much. Thank you for sharing her life with all of us.
Deb saysDecember 20, 2014 at 7:49 am
A sweet, loving tribute. So hard to lose such a good friend. RIP Stella.
Melanie saysDecember 27, 2014 at 4:32 am
It’s 12:30am here on the west coast and some force in the universe put visions of Stella in my head. Which lead me to seek her out. It was her presence in your blog posts that convinced me that our next dog should be a Great Dane. She also prompted arguments with Mr. Farklepants who is against any animal in the house who takes up more space on the couch than he does. ….I dunno, I’m just thinking of her, thinking of you, and your family. Love you Bossy. xoxo
Anjali Mitter Duva saysJanuary 2, 2015 at 12:31 am
I don’t know you and I didn’t know Stella, but I’ve followed your blog off and on for years now, and boy did that make me sad. But also happy. Because–what a wonderful dog! And how lucky for her and for your family that you had each other. Thanks for sharing her with us.