Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Last Walk

Ten years ago our third son Joel went away to college, leaving a distraught and lonely Megan stuck with two of the most boring humans on earth (Mom and Dad). As the days went by, and Megan was not coming out of the depression, Kevin and I then made a decision to find a friend for her. Around that same time, Megan and I became volunteers at the Humane Society, where we would go every week and help clean out the cat room. As we did this, we would check out the dogs. We looked at several different dogs, but none of them seemed like a good fit, until we saw the little tri-colored beagle. Undersized but enthusiastic, she won our hearts in an instant. Her name was Sara, and in a couple of days she had adopted us. An immediate change came over Megan. Every day when she came home from school I'd send the dog out to great her, and who can resist a happy, tail wagging dog? The first year of having Sara in our house Megan claimed that she still liked cats better then dogs, but after a time her allegiance shifted, and now I'd say she's a hard core dog lover. I'm writing as if this was all about Megan and Sara, but this is really about all of us and Sara.

I was the kid that dragged home every stray animal that I came across. All I ever wanted was a dog. With a sister having sever asthma this was not a good idea. That didn't stop me, I persisted until Dad and Mom broke down and gave me a dog for Christmas, and I have to say that I would rank that gift as the best Christmas gift I've ever received. He was a little brown mutt that I named Barney. I loved that dog and he followed me everywhere, sometimes that wasn't so good. If I wanted to go to my best friend, Karen's house, I would have to sneak out of my house and run fast to her house, to get away from Barney. About an hour after I had successfully dodged the dog, he would track me down and be crying at the Swenson's door. I loved the dog anyway, and was devastated when he disappeared. For weeks after he was gone I would search the neighborhood and countryside calling and whistling for him. He never came back.

Along came Megan's dog, Sara. She and I became fast friends and I loved how she was so happy to see me every single time I walked in the door. We spent many hours walking, reading and napping together. If I lay on the sofa she would lay on my feet to keep them warm. Soon after she arrived in our house we discovered that she had a marvelous singing voice, and I loved to hear her bay, (most of the time) at the bunnies, squirrels, and anybody who rang the doorbell. She was smart and easily learned a boat-load of cute tricks that she would perform for anybody that came to the house. She loved the next door neighbor Pauli, and spent time laying next to her on the bed when she was dying of cancer. Every night when Megan went to bed Sara slept next to her like a little sister. When we walked past the bus stop every morning all the girls would want to pet Sara. In other words she was a well loved dog.

You may be wondering why I'm writing this post. Well, today was Sara's last day with us. A couple of months ago we noticed a change in Sara. She was having some problems of which I will not detail here. We kept hoping that it was just a faze and would go away. After some time we realized that it wasn't a faze and we would have some difficult decisions to make. Yesterday I called the vet and made arrangements to have her euthanized. This was a heart wrenching choice to make, and even now I can't stop weeping. This morning we took her on her last walk, fed her, and that was it. When I look back on the ten years she spent with us and the pain at the end, I'd still do it all over again. When I walked in the door from work today, there was no Little Buddy to greet me, and it seems a bit lonely. Here are some of the things that I learned from Sara.

1. Always show friends how happy you are to see them again.

2. Every day is the best day of your life.

3. If you have a tail, wag it a lot.

4. Forgive people for angry, harsh words.

5. If you feel like singing, let loose with all your might.

6. Don't be afraid to show bullies that your not afraid of them.

7. Don't be afraid to back down from a fight if you think you might get hurt.

8. When you itch, scratch.

9. Getting dirty isn't a bad thing.

10. Snuggling is good.

11. If a friend is hurt, give them a kiss.

12. Take long walks as often as you can.

13. If you eat your dinner you'll get a treat.

14. Don't ever turn down a really great meal.

15. Most car rides are great.

16. If you love someone, let them know.

17. If someone pulls your tail, bite back.

18. Cats are a lot scarier then they look.

19. Take every opportunity to chase a bunny.

20. Love without expecting anything in return.

Farewell Little Buddy. I have no doubt that if we meet in heaven, you will greet me with tail wagging, happy face, and dragging Barney behind you.


Megan Of Parker said...

Sara was the best and truest friend anyone could have ever asked for. And although she was only a dog she fulfilled every jot and tittle of her creation. I will miss you Sara but I will always cherish your unwavering love and joy.

The Queen Vee said...

What an eloquent tribute to a beloved member of your family and one who gave you all unconditional love.

Sylvia I'm wagging my tail for Sara and for you too. I think I'll just go out now and bay at the moon although I won't do it nearly as well as Sara would have.

I grieve with you dear sister.

Spymommy said...

I am so sorry to hear about Sara. We have long loved seeing her in Christmas cards and hearing about her great dog antics. We wish we weren't allergic to dogs so we could have one. You have clearly demonstrated a loyalty and love for a canine companion that is both tender and true. Please accept our condolences and love for your family and that sweet pup.

Tobi said...

I'm so sorry that Sara has passed. I know that we will all miss her dearly. She is a great dog.

Kernal Ken said...

My condolences on the passing of Sara. She was a great dog and one who greeted strange uncles as well as family members.

I always thought she was named after Sara Nelson, but your explanation laid that to rest.

I had a cocker spaniel named Prince Shadow whom we had to have euthanized because he couldn't go to Vietnam with my family and could not adapt to another family. It was a sad day, so my thoughts are with all of you that Sara has left behind.

Remember, she counted on you to make decisions for her which would be the humane and right thing to do. You did not disappoint her.

The Zenger Family said...

Sara really liked me it was the strangest relationship. You know what I really liked sara too, so sad. Life wont be the same at your house.

Tanya writing in proxy of Linda Zenger

Apis Melliflora said...

Sylvia I love the way you honored Sara by sharing what she taught you and your family. Animals and children are often times the world's best teachers...they tend to have their priorities straight.

Your post made me well up. Thank you!

I am your Father! said...

My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm Happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?
Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I feel very peculiar. I feel like I've just got to bite a cat! I feel like if I don't bite a cat before sundown, I'll go crazy! But then I just take a deep breath and forget about it. That's what is known as real maturity.
Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves and then we have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.
Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement.

I almost always had at least one dog, sometimes a many as three, in the house. As I recite Snoopyisms, I have Lucky warming on foot and Gir warming the other. Dogs are amazing. Laura tells me when Lucky goes.... that's it.... nor more dogs. I don't believe it. It's been two and an half years since Comet the wonderdog died... but I still expect her to jump up on the bed in the morning, snuggle down between Laura and I, flip over on her back..... and sneeze in my ear!

So to quote Snoopy one more time...

If you put your supper dish to your ear you can hear the sounds of a restaurant.

Arrivederci, piccolo cane. Siamo tristi.

Uncle Bill....

Millertime said...

Sara was a wonderful dog and i'm sorry to hear of her passing! I'm so glad that I got to meet her and i'll miss her in your family Christmas cards! Our thoughts and hearts are with you!
Vanessa and Chris

Quintuplet Dad said...

Well, I have read it now and that is sad. I guess it had to happen some time. She sure was a good little friend to you guys.

julie said...

Thank you for your tribute. Sometimes we need a reason to cry because we have to be tough for the rest of life. I will cry a little for you.

Rachelle said...

I am so sorry about Sara. I know the babies (especially Rustin) will miss getting to know her!

Lori Z. said...

That made me sad...we'll miss that sweet little beagle Sara. Guess Matthew will have to lick the Thanksgiving plates clean!