Another Goodbye

I feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to too many of my favourite peeps and hounds these last couple of years and this one’s a toughie. Whether he was friend or family depends on how you view us four-legged additions to the household, but to me, he was my grandpa. Somewhere I have, or had, an actual grandfather, or grandsire as he’d be called in the dog world, but I likely never met him, don’t even recall meeting my father. Such is the way of life for dogs. We leave our birth families at a very young age and adopt a human family. They say they adopt us but we know it’s the other way around.

Nollind and his dad.

So my grandpa and friend, David, left us last weekend, quietly, peacefully. The struggle with disease started eight years ago but, in the end, his decline was mercifully rapid, allowing him to live right up until he died. Just a month ago, he hosted a Thanksgiving meal at his condo for the whole clan. And what a feast it was with all of the dishes of his childhood present and accounted for. As it turned out, it was somewhat of a farewell dinner. He was in hospital a week later. I didn’t get to visit him in the hospital but, from what I heard, he was still going for walks and maintaining his card-shark status during his stay.

Thanksgiving cuddles.

In the years I knew him, David was never anything but kind to me. He was at our place a lot one summer and fall, helping Nollind with a bunch of building projects and, when it was tea time, he always had one hand for his cup and one for me. I’d park myself beside his favourite stool in the kitchen and he’d stroke my head for as long as I stayed or until they went back to work.

Siding the hay shed.

And that one year was not the only time David was at the farm lending a hand. If you took a gander around our yard you’d be hard pressed to spot a thing that he hasn’t touched in some way. From helping T and Nollind paint the inside of the house way back when they bought the place, to rewiring the old barn, to straightening the old barn, to building the carport and the hay shed and the new outhouse, to replacing the awning on Sid, to planting the first garden. The list goes on and on. If we wanted to memorialize him with a sign on something he helped build, we’d pretty much just hang it on the gate at the entrance (come to think of it he helped with that too).

Working in the garden.

Even though David wasn’t technically a dog person, as in he never had a dog of his own beyond his childhood on the farm, whenever family events were hosted at his condo, we dogs were included. On Thanksgiving this year he even bought me a nice big, beef bone. When I pulled it out of the dish to go chew in a more private location, T and Nollind jumped up in a panic, but David just smiled without concern.

Hanging out bedside last Friday.

Last Friday, the whole family was called to spend the day with David at his condo. He was in bed and I could feel that he was leaving us. I curled up beside him and he reached out his hand to stroke me as he always did. He went to hospice that afternoon and died the next evening so the feel of my fur was one of his final experiences in this life. I hope it was a comfort.

I’ll sure miss him.

I don’t know where we go when we die but they say that pets cross the Rainbow Bridge. I think David would appreciate a bridge built from rainbows, and likely pitch in on any needed repairs. I hope he and Logan are over there enjoying it together.

Just a Dog

It’s September and, one year ago today, I was hanging out in Logie-land with its namesake, my good buddy Logan. Little did I know that in just a few weeks we’d be saying goodbye … forever. Although the day he died was terrible, the permanence of his leaving took time to settle in, and that’s where I’m at now, I think all of us are, that stage where the pain is eased but the permanence is felt with each passing month. I’m not sure what we’ll do on the anniversary of his death on the 28th of September, but I know we’ll do it together, me, T and Nollind, Logan’s family.

September 3, 2018 – a little couch time with T

T told me a sad story from many years ago when she lost a young dog to a huge piece of ice that slid off the roof of the house and landed on him. Terrible, right? It’s been thirty-five years and she still tears up when she talks about Bo. But what makes this story even more tragic, and something T has never forgotten, is the response of one of her “friends” who asked that same evening over drinks, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a dog.”

September 7, 2018 – nap time with a favourite toy

And therein lies the insult to injury that dog people often experience when they lose one of us canine family members. Even if it’s not stated outright, the message is there in the silence … It’s just a dog.

September 17, 2018 – autumn sun

When Logan died, the sympathy cards, condolence messages, and fuzzy blankets covered in paw prints were a great comfort to T (she still hasn’t put the cards away). They brought the message, “He wasn’t just a dog, he was a much-loved member of your family for fourteen years.”

September 25, 2018 – still up for a short walk.

A poem by Richard A. Biby…

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me, and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

September 28, 2018 – early morning

Thanks, Mr. Biby and thanks everyone else who understands that there’s no such thing as “just a dog”. I know I’d sure hate to be such a thing.

September 28, 2018
September 28, 2018

Flashback Fur-iday – A Dog and His Boy

It’s a special day in our house today, so I thought I’d do something a little special for the blog. It’s Nollind’s birthday. Can you believe he’s almost 400 years old in dog years? I know. Me neither. He looks pretty good though, don’t you think? For an old guy, I mean.

Me and the birthday boy.

Anyway, in celebration of Nollind’s 371st dog-year birthday, and because it’s a First Fur-iday when it’s time to bring Logan back to the blog, I decided to share some stories, about Nollind and Logan. These are third paw but I will do my best.

Sure looks like a dog person …

For starters, Nollind wasn’t really a dog person when he met T. His family had a cat when he was growing up but never a dog. T told me he used to run for the soap and water every time he’d pet one of us back in the old days. A little hurtful, but kinda funny.

Never one to take on a new thing half way.

When T and Nollind moved to the acreage and T wanted a dog, Aspen came into their lives. She was like the trail blazer for those of us to follow, breaking Nollind in to the idea of living with dogs. Hard to believe but, at first, he wasn’t crazy about the idea of dogs in the house. T sorted that pretty quickly but then it was, okay, dogs in the porch, but no farther. Then it was dogs on the lino but not on the hardwood, which is about one third of our house. Dog-kind was making inroads.

Funny thing was, Aspen preferred to be outdoors!

It wasn’t long before Aspen was sleeping at the foot of T and Nollind’s bed at night (which was on the hardwood) but that was where he drew the line. Definitely no dogs on the furniture!

Then … Logan came along.

In the early days … right beside Nollind’s desk.

Ironically, when Logan first arrived, he’d probably not been in a house before and was afraid to come past the porch. But that was just for the first few days. Once he was in and comfortable, he started scouting around for the best place to sleep. Turned out it was the couch.

Couch time.

Nollind weakly attempted one last stand … “Okay, the couch but definitely not the bed!” I’ll let the photo tell you how that turned out.

I’m not supposed to what?

It isn’t that Nollind is a push-over, far from it. He just discovered that he is a dog person after all, and more particularly a Logan person. That black and white dog had him wrapped around his little toe (example in video that follows). And, in turn, Nollind was Logan’s person. Logan had a long list of people he liked, but Nollind was at the top of the page.

Logan’s appetite wasn’t the best in his old age. This was Nollind’s solution.

We’ve all missed him these past seven months but I think Nollind feels Logan’s absence in a different way than the rest of us. Logan was like his Yoda of the dog world, his teacher of dog ways, and his first puppy love.

So, Nollind, since I have already given you the greatest gifts a dog can give, my unconditional love and an entertaining personality, I’ll just say … Happy 371st Birthday!!

And, from Logan, for your birthday this year, the only thing he has left to give … sweet memories.

Corn maze in central Alberta.
On the Trail in Kananaskis Country.
Sharing snacks along the Colorado River.
Break on the trail near Lake Mojave, Nevada.
White Sand Dunes, New Mexico.
Campfire time at Quartzsite, Arizona.
Imperial Dunes, California.
Huntington Beach, California.
Autumn walk in Boise, Idaho.